Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 10.djvu/150

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

Abbeville about two or three days before the arrival of the President and Cabinet.

Captain Parker feeling the great responsibility of his position, and satisfied that his command was wholly inadequate to the protection of the treasure, earnestly requested to be relieved, which request was granted, and the treasure was taken in charge by General Basil Duke, whose command consisted of about three brigades of cavalry, and moved that night about 12 o'clock towards Washington, Georgia. I had for several days been urging Judge Crump to allow me to draw a few thousand dollars in gold to pay off the "escort," they having faithfully discharged that duty for over a month. He was unwilling to assume what he termed "so much responsibility," but it was agreed that when the cabinet arrived Captain Parker should see Secretary Mallory, and with him call on Secretary Trenholm and get his approval to the payment alluded to. The sickness of Mr. Trenholm prevented the consummation of this arrangement.

We proceeded upon the proper idea that the Secretary of the Treasury was in full control of that department, and we would have as soon thought of applying to the President for quartermaster or ordnance stores as for money. Of course the chief executive had authority to supervise every department, but so far as we knew he had exercised no more control over the one than the other. In fact, most of the time we were out of reach of orders, and Captain Parker had to act on his own judgment, and I have every reason to believe that President Davis had no knowledge of our return to Abbeville until he arrived there. The morning following the departure of the treasure from Abbeville, I proposed to Captain Parker that I should try to overtake it at Washington, Ga., and endeavor to get sufficient to give the command enough to enable them to get to their homes. He consented to this, and I reached Washington about 6 o'clock that evening, called at the house where the President, his staff and part of the Cabinet were quartered, learned that Judge Reagan was the acting Secretary of the Treasury, with the full power of the head of that department. I was personally acquainted with Colonel William Preston Johnston, Judge Crump, and Paymaster Semple, all of whom I met in the parlor. Colonel J. Taylor Wood, to whom Captain Parker had given me a letter, was also there. I requested the influence of these gentlemen with Judge Reagan, but made no suggestion that they should present the matter to President Davis, and though he was in the parlor that night and the next morning I did not trouble him with any reference to it. Knowing that he had entrusted the Treasury Department to Judge Reagan and was occupied