Buried Treasures of the Appalachians, Chapmanville, civil war, Confederate Army, Fayette County, Guyandotte River, history, Logan County, Union Army, W.C. Jameson, West Virginia
From W.C. Jameson’s Buried Treasures of the Appalachians (1991, pp. 204-205) comes this story of buried treasure near Chapmanville, WV:
In Fayette County during the War Between the States, a contingent of Union soldiers was escorting a large payroll–a wagon full of gold coins–to a Yankee encampment in the area. As the party traveled along the winding trails through the dense woods, scouts told the commanding officer that a Confederate patrol was rapidly approaching from the east.
The Union officer ordered the escort into a full gallop in the hope of outdistancing the rebels, but after trying to elude the enemy for about five miles, it became clear that they would soon be overtaken. Anticipating a skirmish, the officer halted the wagon and ordered the canvas bags that held the Union payroll taken from the wagon and buried it a short distance from the trail. While troopers hastily dug a pit in which to hide the gold, the officer noted the surroundings in his journal. He wrote that the payroll was hidden on the west side of the Guyandotte River, near a small settlement named Chapmanville.
Once the hole was filled, the soldiers remounted and rode on. About an hour later, the Confederates overtook the Union soldiers and opened fire. The Yankees sought cover and returned fire, but they were disorganized and greatly outnumbered. The fighting lasted about two hours, and when it was over, all of the Yankee soldiers lay dead.
The rebel soldiers searched the wagon for the money and found it empty. Suspecting the gold had been buried shortly before the engagement, they retraced the Yankees’ trail for several miles, without finding the payroll.
Returning to the site of the skirmish, the Confederates stripped the Union soldiers of anything of value and left the corpses to rot in the sun. An unknown soldier took the commanding officer’s journal and he tossed it into the trunk and forgot it. In the early 1930s, someone discovered an old journal and searched unsuccessfully for the buried coins.
The directions in the journal claimed the gold was buried at a point where the old road and the Guyandotte River came within twenty yards of one another. Since the war, however, the road has been all but obliterated by the more modern thoroughfare, and the river has shifted its course.
If the Union payroll of gold coins was not uncovered by the shifting river and washed downstream, the Civil War cache is probably still lying just a few inches beneath the soil near Chapmanville.
For more information about buried treasure in Appalachia, read Mr. Jameson’s book, which can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Buried-Treasures-Appalachians-W-C-Jameson/dp/0874831261