Lost Confederate gold topic of Sumter County Genealogical Society's next meeting

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 11/16/17

Author, historian and University of South Carolina Professor Emerita Patricia G. McNeely will present a program on "the lost Confederate gold" at Monday's meeting of the Sumter County Genealogical …

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Lost Confederate gold topic of Sumter County Genealogical Society's next meeting

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Author, historian and University of South Carolina Professor Emerita Patricia G. McNeely will present a program on "the lost Confederate gold" at Monday's meeting of the Sumter County Genealogical Society. The 7:30 p.m. program will be held at Swan Lake Presbyterian Church, 912 Haynsworth St.

In her presentation, McNeely will discuss papers signed by Gen. William T. Sherman that have been held privately by several Sumter families for more than 150 years, as well as the mystery surrounding the gold. McNeely has recently included the documents and eyewitness accounts in her book "Eyewitnesses to General Sherman's Campaign in the Civil War."

Noting that there has long been controversy about the question of who burned Columbia during the war, McNeely said in a news release that "The letters and eyewitness accounts of Sherman's campaign in South Carolina provide significant insight into Sherman's personal life and finally and convincingly end the controversy about who burned Columbia. The documents are strong evidence of Sherman's strategy to destroy towns in his path rather than leaving occupying forces."

One of the documents describing the burning of Columbia quotes Sherman as regretting the burning of the city but that he "could leave no part" of his army to keep it.

Controversy and intrigue about the Confederate Gold started following Sherman's campaign, McNeely's book shows, when President Andrew Johnson accused the general of taking up to $13 million in gold as a bribe to allow Jefferson Davis to escape.

"The search for Lost Confederate Gold leads into the assassination of President Lincoln and England's involvement in the Civil War and is still going on now," McNeely said. She will also discuss her book on "Lincoln, Sherman, Davis and the Lost Confederate Gold."

McNeely's presentation on the "search that will never end" and the burning of Columbia is co-sponsored by the S.C. Humanities Council.

McNeely taught writing and reporting for 33 years in the School of Journalism in Columbia. Before joining the USC faculty, she was a reporter and editor for The Greenville News, The State and The Columbia Record. Among her books, in addition to "Eyewitnesses to General Sherman's Campaign in the Civil War" and "Lincoln, Sherman, Davis and the Lost Confederate Gold" are "Sherman's Flame and Blame Campaign through Georgia and the Carolinas and the burning of Columbia," "Fighting Words: A Media History of South Carolina" and "Knights of the Quill: Confederate Correspondents and their Civil War Reporting."

Books will be available for purchase at the meeting.

The Sumter County Genealogical Society meets monthly from September through May. Admission is free, and the public is invited to attend. Interested persons may join the society following the meeting. Membership includes nine monthly newsletters during the year and free use of the Sumter County Genealogical Society Research Center. Annual dues are $30 for an individual membership and $35 for families.

Call the Society's Research Center for more information at (803) 774-3901.