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Lt George Dixon's Gold Coin - Shiloh to the Hunley

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Wasnt sure if you guys had seen this? I just love stories like this! Especially when they are true! Not sure how to post this so I copied and pasted the content and the link. For your enjoyment:


LT. DIXON'S GOLD COIN: THE LEGEND OF THE GOLD COIN

 

http://hunley.org/main_index.asp?CONTENT=GOLDCOIN

 

THE LEGEND: For over a century, an oral tradition-a legend-was passed down involving Lt. George Dixon, who commanded the 

Hunley on its final assignment, which turned out to be one of the most important missions in naval history. According to the legend, Dixon was in love with a beautiful young woman from Mobile, Alabama, named Queenie Bennett.

 

To keep her sweetheart safe from harm, Queenie gave George Dixon a gold coin, as a good luck charm. Again, according to the legend, George kept the coin with him always, in his pocket, rubbing it with his thumb while he dreamed of the day when he and Queenie would be reunited.

 

During the Battle of Shiloh, George was shot point blank. A bullet ripped into the pocket of his trousers and struck the center of the gold coin. The impact was said to have left the gold piece bent, with the bullet embedded in it. Queenie's good luck gift had saved his life.

 

Jacobsencoin.jpg
- Archaeologist Maria Jacobsen holding Dixon's gold coin. This photograph was taken only minutes after the coin's discovery. 

Many such legends were created during the war. Was this one true? For 137 years, no one knew whether the story was true or merely a romantic tale from long ago.

 

During the excavation of the H.L. Hunley, the gold coin was discovered next to the remains of Lt. George Dixon. It was deeply indented from the impact of a bullet and traces of lead were discovered on the coin. The coin, a $20 dollar gold piece, was minted in 1860. One side bears an image of Lady Liberty. The other side, which has a federal shield-and-eagle symbol, had been sanded and inscribed by hand. It clearly bears four lines of cursive script with the following words:

Shiloh 
April 6, 1862 
My life Preserver 
G. E. D.

DixonReverse.jpg
The reverse side of
Dixon's gold coin.

 

Maria Jacobsen, Senior Archaeologist on the Hunley project and the one who actually first found the coin, said shortly after her amazing discovery, "Some people may think this is a stroke of luck, but perhaps it's something else. They tell me that Lt. Dixon was a lady's man, perhaps he winked at us yesterday to remind us that he still is."

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Hi Laura.....

 

Welcome to the Board and thanks for sharing such was a wonderful story.   I look forward to more interesting contributions from you!

 

Eileen

 

THE MANASSAS BELLE

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Laura

 

I'd heard that the skipper of the Hunley carried a lucky gold coin, but did not know it had already been 'put to use.' Thanks for sharing the story-behind-the-story.

 

Ozzy

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Thanks for all the warm welcomes. Im happy to be here and look forward to learning more about the Battle of Shiloh from the knowledgeable folks here.

 

Does anyone know where (on the battlefield - not on the body :D ) Lt. Dixon was shot? 

 

(Hope I don't get "Warning Points" for that reference to Lt Dixons wound in the pants pocket.)  ;)

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Let's see, warning button, warning button........ah, there it is! :lol:

 

It looks like the good Mr. Dixon was a member of the 21st Alabama - and no I didn't know that ahead of time - so that puts him in Gladden's Brigade. Probably the roughest part of the battle for them took place at the very start, when they hit Madison Miller's Brigade in Spain Field. After that, they spent the rest of the battle on the eastern side of the battlefield, both days, mostly between Spain Field and the Peach Orchard. So it was very likely in that general area, although pinning it down more closely would probably require a personal account that gives some clues. If he was shot on the first or second day, in the morning or afternoon, in the pants pocket, etc. ;)

 

Here's a link to the various position markers for his regiment at Shiloh. There isn't a lot of context, but you can read their descriptions, and see a little bit of the area around the marker. The field just behind the picture that includes the park entrance sign is Spain Field. Click on "View Picture Here," on the second page, to see a close-up of the marker itself.

 

http://shilohbattlefield.org/results.asp?varCWUNIT=CAL0021RI&Submit=Submit

 

Perry

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Thanks Perry. I found a carded record (one of many in his file) that says he was wounded on April 6 at 8 1/2 am 1st (or possibly last) camp?

 

Evidently he carried the coin in his left pants pocket. :unsure:  Nature of wound: "Left thigh severely." Wonder if he was left handed? 

 

Although its not a personal account, does the date/time from the carded record provide enough clues to help pinpoint the (geographic) location of his wounding?

post-562-0-27288600-1423885524_thumb.jpg

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Nice find, Laura. And goodness, what a hideous and painful wound that must have been.

 

The time being 8:30 on April 6th, that puts him in or very near Spain Field when he was shot. The '1st camp' notation would almost certainly refer to the campsites for Miller's regiments, which were located just north of Spain Field. Based on the brigade's alignment, he may have been toward the eastern side of the field when he was hit. That was a pretty severe fight, and the Union troops had virtually no chance.

 

When his brigade received criticism after the battle for not holding on, Miller said something to the effect that all anyone had to do was go view the bodies in that old field. That was testimony enough.

 

Perry

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Thanks Perry. Unfortunately Im not as well versed on the ground at Shiloh as I should be. Next time Im there I will make a point to view the area you describe. I guess you could say Im a geographical/visual learner B) so I really like to see where things happened - you know -  walk the actual ground. Sometimes its like a movie. I can actually imagine the scene in my head when I am in the place. 

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Laura, this isn't exactly the same as being on the ground - and I understand your point about that, believe me - but here's Spain Field from outer space. Or at least Google's version of outer space. :)

 

https://www.google.com/maps/place/35%C2%B007%2718.6%22N+88%C2%B020%2731.0%22W/@35.1219013,-88.3415457,317m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0

 

The red locator dot is the marker for Gladden's Brigade that we talked about before, and Spain Field is immediately to the right of it. Gladden's men were attacking toward the top of the map. The initial Union defensive line was located where you see the trees bisecting the field (it's actually a fence line, but hard to see on the map). The Union camps ("1st camps" on that card you have) were at the upper edge of the field, and stretching off into the woods to the right. Jim's granddaddy was trying to put bullets in enemy pockets from the woods a little to the left of the road. They did a pretty good job of it, all things considered.

 

I've always liked Spain Field. It's right off the main tour route, but easily missed due to intervening trees. It's a little like the park itself in that you pretty much have to decide to go see it, rather than just happening across it.

 

Perry

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Here is the earliest reference I have uncovered to the story of George Dixon and his lucky $20 gold piece, in the Memphis Daily Appeal of April 18th 1862, front page, column five (bottom), article titled, "A Battle Incident."  http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045160/1862-04-18/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1862&sort=date&date2=1862&words=Shiloh&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=8&state=Mississippi&rows=20&proxtext=Shiloh&y=18&x=17&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1  [from LOC Chronicling America.]

Ozzy

 

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