Discussion The Last Confederate Payroll

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First Sergeant
Dec 8, 2008
I came across this story while researching the Broun family of Charleston, WV. Apparently a Broun was the last paymaster on Jefferson Davis' retreat from Richmond. It's worth reading, the story of the hold-up of the train returning the gold to Richmond is amazing. Has any of this ever been done in a movie?

The Last Confederate Payroll, Southern Historical Society Papers

Our own boys had become demoralized
about this gold. They said if they didn't take it, the quarter-
master or the Yankees would. That was one time it was not
pleasant or safe to be a quartermaster. Discipline was gone.
But Gen. Breckenridge, in his mature manhood, was equal to
the occasion. In an old Kentucky hunting jacket, he appeared
before the men, now almost a mob. He told them they were
Southern gentlemen and Confederate soldiers. They must not
become highway robbers. They knew how to die bravely; they
must live honorably.

He promised then! an orderly distribution of enough of the
gold to help each one on his way, whether to his home or to
the trans-Mississippi department, where good fighting might yet
be done. The men were readily controlled and became quiet
and content.

Gen. Bragg, a few of his staff and I, then went to the "gold
train" (which we usually tried to conceal). Under Gen. Bragg's
directions each of us took about a quart of gold coin and tied it
up in his handkerchief, as if it were of no great value, so as
not to arouse the suspicion of the boys we would pass. With
this treasure uncounted we proceeded back to the town of
Washington (some miles), where I opened a pay office, Gen.
Bragg still present and superintending the payment. Each sol-
dier, as he presented himelf at the window, received a $20 gold
piece and receipted to me therefor. When the soldiers ceased
coming, there remained on the table two twenties and one ten.
Gen. Bragg, turning to me said : "Captain, you estimate closely.
Receipt to yourself for what is left and close the account." I
pocketed the $50 and signed the payroll therefor. Immediately
after this payment we all disbanded, each man going his way.
This was the last act of the Confederate Government so far as I
know. The following night President Davis was captured by
the Federal soldiers.

There's a lot more to the story at the link.
Jan 29, 2019
My 3rd Great Grandfather who served and fought with the 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, in Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, received 26 Silver Dollars from that last Payroll as part of President Jefferson Davis` Personal Escort and Body Guard from North Carolina to Washington, Ga. He was paid in Mexican Silver Reales as were many of the others, some were paid in U. S. Gold Eagles, U. S. Gold Double Eagles and others in Mexican Gold Escudos. It was all paid in Species, as Confederate Money was worthless at that time, worth only about 3 cents to the American dollar. What Confederate Money (paper notes) that they had was burned at Washington, Ga. in the middle of town by Brig. General Dukes Brigade.

Here is an OP that I posted on it a couple of months ago, to include sharing a couple of photos of one of the coins that he was paid on 4 May 1865, once they crossed the Savannah River and Breckinridge was more or less forced to pay the Cavalry Escort before moving onto Washington, Ga.


Maj. General John C. Breckinridge (Former U.S. Vice President under President Buchannan and the last C. S. Secretary of War) after making the payout and getting verbal authorization from President Jefferson Davis, accounted for the sum paid to the men by A. R. Lawton (Quartermaster General) "from the Confederate treasury" with the following orders:

Confederate States of America, Washington, Ga., May 4, 1865.

Hon. J. C. Breckinridge, Secretary of War:

There is required for payment of troops now on the march through Georgia, the sum of one hundred and eight thousand three hundred and twenty-two dollars and ninety cents ($108,322.90), to be placed to the credit of Major E. C. White, Quartermaster.

A. R. Lawton
Quartermaster General.

The Secretary of the Treasury will please issue as requested.

John C. Breckinridge

Secretery of War.

M. H. Clark, Acting Treasurer, will turn over to Major E. C. White the amount named within, preserving the necessary vouchers, warrant hereafter to be drawn when settlement can be regularly made.

John H. Reagan,
Acting Secy Treasury.

Washington, Ga., May 4, 1865:

Received of M. H. Clark, Acting Treasurer, C. S., the sum of one hundred and eight thousand three hundred and twenty-two dollars and ninety cents ($108,322.90) in specie, the amount called for by within paper. I obtained permission from General Breckinridge and Mr. Reagan to burn a mass of currency and bonds, and burnt millions in their presence.
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