The Ottawa Citizen
Canada may still hold millions in secret Confederate gold
Thursday, July 10, 2003
The symbols on the stone tablet are reported to be clues to a topographical puzzle that pinpoints Confederate treasure. Lincoln assassin (John Wilkes Booth), left, is part of Canada's connection to the Confederacy: he may have planned his crime in Montreal.
The symbols on the stone tablet are reported to be clues to a topographical puzzle that pinpoints Confederate treasure. Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, left, is part of Canada's connection to the Confederacy: he may have planned his crime in Montreal.
Southern spies preparing for a Confederate resurgence after the U.S. Civil War may have buried millions of dollars in gold at sites across Canada in the 1860s -- part of an enormous treasure that, say the authors of a new book, is only now being unearthed.
Warren Getler and Bob Brewer, who co-wrote Shadow of the Sentinel: One Man's Quest to Find the Hidden Treasure of the Confederacy, say Canada was an important haven for Confederate operatives during the Civil War who went on to form the nucleus of a secret society -- the Knights of the Golden Circle -- that kept the South's dream of independence alive for decades after the Union army's victory.
"By war's end, exiled Confederate and KGC cadres operating out of Canada under the seasoned leadership of Jacob Thompson, Clement Clay and Thomas Hines had amassed a treasury estimated at more than $2 million in gold and silver coinage," the book says.
The authors believe that most of the money from Canadian bank accounts and coin caches, which totalled as much as $5 million according to some of the book's sources, was eventually repatriated and hidden in the American south.
But because of the strict secrecy surrounding the Confederacy's cash reserves, and the generations that have passed since the money was buried, no one can for say for sure where the treasure is.
Mr. Brewer, who is descended from members of the KGC, claims to have discovered -- among other finds -- a fruit jar filled with gold and silver coins in the Arkansas backwoods after deciphering a series of coded maps, inscribed stone tablets and other landscape markers. The book offers only general clues about where other caches might be found, since Mr. Brewer is continuing his own hunt for the Confederate hoard.
"Bob and a few others have been finding real treasure that was buried in this coded, geometric grid system," said Mr. Getler, a journalist who has worked for the Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune, yesterday in an interview.
Canada's connections to the Confederacy are well-documented by historians, who have long been aware that John Wilkes Booth -- who assassinated U.S. president Abraham Lincoln in April 1865 -- may have planned the attack a few months earlier during meetings in Montreal with Confederate spies and Southern sympathizers.
"Agents -- some people call them Confederate secret service, we call them KGC -- were operating out of key areas such as Toronto, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Windsor," says Mr. Getler. "They were operating there as a financial reserve or haven and as an operational platform" conducting sabotage runs and robbery raids in the northern U.S.
Among the key figures involved in the KGC was Albert Pike, a Confederate exile in Canada whose experience as a leading Freemason appears to explain the elaborate coding system used to hide money and which Mr. Brewer is now unlocking to find treasure sites.
The treasure is believed to have been amassed from the Confederacy's government reserves, from wartime raids on northern banks and from tithes offered by northern supporters of the Southern cause.
Mr. Getler and Mr. Brewer say cash burials offered the only reliable method of safekeeping Confederate wealth at the time. The authors believe that a network of KGC "sentinels" were responsible for hiding various amounts gold and silver, protecting the caches during their lifetime, and then passing on to others the coded information that would one day yield the treasure locations and help finance a second Civil War.
"I would say there is a possibility that KGC treasure does exist in the north, because this organization was operating throughout the country and in Canada," says Mr. Getler. In particular, he adds, "there's a possibility that Confederate treasure is buried in that region around Windsor." But the clues also point to "treasures in the northwest of the country, places like Oregon and Montana" and the sparsely settled Canadian west that bordered those states.
In another bizarre twist in the story, the authors say that the infamous outlaw Jesse James was part of the KGC network. He is alleged to have led a convoy with $80,000 worth of Confederate gold to a hiding spot in New Mexico, while "other convoys headed south into Florida, one went into Mexico, another into Canada, after traveling west into Kansas and going north to avoid Union troops."
Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen