Thursday, May 19, 2011

Civil War-Era Treasures in Tennessee (Part 2)

 (Colonel C.L. Dunham, Union brigade commander at the Battle of Parker's Crossroads, Tennessee.)

 “Seek and Destroy”

General Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of the most feared Confederate cavalry commanders in the “western” theater of the U.S. Civil War. He was shrewd, intelligent, fearless, and a master of strategy.

With this in mind, Union brigade commander C.L. Dunham was somewhat apprehensive when he marched his 1,500-man force into camp just outside Clarksburg, Tennessee in late December 1862. You see, Dunham’s orders were to “seek out and destroy” Bedford Forrest’s Confederate cavalry brigade

Itching for a Fight

News of Forrest’s presence reached Dunham that night outside Clarksburg while his brigade was pitching camp at a spot known as Dollar Hill. It seems that Forrest’s rebel units were encamped near Parker’s Crossroads and itching for a fight.

Unsure of the outcome of the upcoming battle to be fought, Colonel Dunham ordered a lieutenant and two enlisted men from the 39th Iowa Regiment to bury the brigade’s payroll chest which was filled with gold specie. This they did, burying the payroll chest a short distance from a nearby spring.

A Bitterly Fought Pitched Battle

Early the next morning Dunham’s brigade collided with Bedford Forrest’s men at Parker’s Crossroads in a bitterly fought pitched battle. Forrest’s forces eventually prevailed, forcing Dunham’s brigade into defensive positions along with the rest of the Union forces.

Treasure Hunting

Right after the battle, heavy downpours of cold rain mixed the blood of the dead into the soil at Parker’s Crossroads. Among those who lost their lives in the battle were the lieutenant and two enlisted men from the 39th Iowa who had buried the brigade’s payroll chest.

 (Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.)

A King’s Ransom in Gold

When the remnants of Colonel Dunham’s brigade returned to Dollar Hill they found the entire area a sea of mud and standing water. Despite repeated attempts by Dunham’s men to relocate the burial site of the brigade’s payroll, they were unsuccessful.

Wolverine Boots
Dickies Work Clothes

Based on this account, a fortune in U.S. gold type coins remains buried somewhere on Dollar Hill outside Clarksburg, Tennessee. For the treasure hunter who locates the spot where the three soldiers of the 39th Iowa buried the brigade’s payroll, a king’s ransom in gold awaits.

Something to Think About

Researching this treasure tale should prove easy, since a great deal of historical information exists about both Colonel Dunham’s brigade, the 39th Iowa, and the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads. However, I have a couple of questions I’d like to throw out here about the validity of this treasure legend:

1) “Why wouldn’t a senior commander like Colonel Dunham post a small guard detail at the payroll cache site before marching his men to Parker’s Crossroads?”

2) "Did heavy rains really swamp Dollar Hill immediately after the Battle of Parker's Crossroads?"

Something to think about as you research this one, right? Good hunting to you.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Civil War-Era Treasures in Tennessee (Part 1)"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2011

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