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[201]

If we had the money. From the Columbia State, May, 1901.

Colonel Gibbes went to England to negotiate the cotton bonds.


Some people are wont to console themselves with the thought that the Confederacy might have won if—

That ‘if’ embraces many reasons. If Albert Sidney Johnston had lived to pursue his victory over Grant at Shiloh. If Pemberton had not surrendered too hastily at Vicksburg. If Stonewall Jackson had not yielded his life at Chancellorsville, if—

But there is one sordid consideration which is little thought of,—‘if’ the South had had the money! Colonel James G. Gibbes, of this city, the present Surveyor-General, recalls an interesting fact bearing on this ‘if.’

In 1862 he was sent out by the Treasury Department of the Confederacy to negotiate the famous ‘cotton bonds.’ Mr. C. G. Memminger, of this State, was Secretary of the Treasury, but Colonel Gibbes was sent at the advice of Mr. Judah P. Benjamin, Attorney-General, who had, while an attorney in New Orleans, been a legal adviser of Colonel Gibbes.

The latter ran the blockade out of Charleston the first week in November (parenthetically, Colonel Gibbes remarked that blockade running was far from an impossibility. John Frazier & Co. were famous blockade runners, and made 60 trips before a single vessel was attacked. However, pilots were paid fabulous prices, and a captain received $5,000 in gold for each trip).

Arrived at Nassau, Colonel Gibbes spent a month waiting to get over to Liverpool. When he arrived at the latter place, he conferred with James Spence, an Englishman, financial agent of the Confederacy. For several weeks they worked hard and without success in the endeavor to dispose of the bonds at a fair figure. Colonel Gibbes carried over with him $15,000,000 of these bonds. These bonds proposed that the amount on the face be paid to the holder, in specie or in cotton at 10 cents a pound within six months after peace should be declared.

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