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[545]

Returning to my train to get some necessary articles, President Davis rode up with his party, when what I supposed were farewell words passed between us, and my train, under charge of its Quartermaster, moved out. The Treasury train arrived shortly after President Davis's party left, and being reported at General Basil W. Duke's camp, about a mile from town, I went there with the proper authority and he turned the whole of it over to me. Selecting the shade of a large elm tree as the “Treasury Department,” I commenced my duties as “Acting Treasurer C. S.”

Now for the specie assets of the Treasury.

It must be remembered that a month or more before the evacuation of Richmond, Va., for the relief of the people, to furnish them a currency to buy supplies outside of our lines, and also to call in currency to pay off the troops, and for other purposes, the Treasury Department had opened its depositories and had been selling silver coin, the rate being fixed at $60 for $1 in coin. While at Danville, Va., the Treasury Department resumed these sales, the rate there being $70 for $1.

About $40,000 in silver, generally reported (and no doubt correctly) at $39,000, was left at Greensboro, N. C., as a military chest for the forces there, under charge of the Treasurer, Mr. John C. Hendren; all of the balance was turned into my hands, which amounted, in gold and silver coin, gold and silver bullion, to $288,022.90. Adding the $39,000 left at Greensboro, N. C., the Treasury contained in coin and bullion when it left Danville, Va., $327,022.90.

If the Treasury at Richmond had contained $2,500,000 in coin certainly the brave men of our armies would never have suffered so severely from want of sufficient food and clothing as they did during the winter of 1864-‘65, for it had been demonstrated that gold could draw food and raiment from without the lines. With the train at Washington, Ga., however, was the specie belonging to the Virginia banks, which some time before had been ordered to be turned over to their officers, who had accompanied it out from Richmond, and, devoted to their duties, had never left it; but the proper officer had not been present to make the transfer. It had never been mixed with the Treasury funds, but kept apart and distinct, and when Acting Secretary Reagan ordered the transfer to be made, no handling of specie or counting was necessary, but merely permission for the cashiers and tellers to take control of their own matters. I knew them all personally, having been a Richmond boy myself. The papers of this transaction are not before me, and my recollection is not positively


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