Confederate Paper Money Series Part XV: Paper Money of the Southern States (Pt. 6)

The secession of the southern states in the early 1860s led to the formation of the Confederacy. After South Carolina seceded on December 20, 1860, seven states followed although it was thought that there would be double that initially. Secession was a delegate decision state by state and after the election and fall of Fort Sumter in April of 1861, some states decided against it. However, once the Confederate States were established, currency circulated heavily throughout the South during the American Civil War. But as we have come to learn throughout this blog series, that currency still was not enough in the South. This led to the enactment of individual states issuing their own currency.


Almost immediately after learning of President Lincoln’s election, the governor of Louisiana assembled legislation that would call on a convention to be had to discuss the idea of secession in December of 1860. The convention would meet in late January of 1861 and out of 130 delegates in attendance, 113 votes would move an Ordinance of Secession to be adopted. Not unlike many other states during this time and consideration of secession, the motion to submit a popular vote was shot down.

Even while seceded, Louisiana was always exposed to possibilities of Union forces taking over. The city of New Orleans was occupied and would eventually fall to Captain David G. Farragut’s naval forces in late April 1861. Later in May, General Benjamin F. Butler and his forces would move in which would leave the Mississippi River (with the exception of blockade runners) to be controlled in large part by the North. The South would keep hold of Western Louisiana and would even name a capital at Shreveport under Governor Thomas O. Moore. One of the biggest victories for the South in Louisiana was on April 8, 1864, at Sabine Crossing.

When General Butler took over, he made many orders to the people of Louisiana. One of the first ones reads as follows: “The circulation of Confederate bonds, evidences of debt, except notes in the similitude of bank notes issued by the Confederate States, or scrip, or any trade in the same, is strictly forbidden. It having been represented to the Commanding General by the city authorities that these Confederate notes, in the form of bank notes, are, in a great measure, the only substitute for money which the people have been allowed to have, and that great distress would ensure among the poorer classes if the circulation of such notes were suppressed, such circulation will be permitted as long as any one may be inconsiderate enough to receive them, till further orders.”

This exact decree was revoked a year later in May of 1862 and ordered banks to therefore make payments in bank notes designated to the banks, U.S. Treasury notes, gold, and silver. Confederate notes were no longer to be used (official Order No. 30). This is why when someone comes across a Bank of Louisiana note that features the stamp “Forced Issue,” it is for this unpopular first proclamation made by General Butler. His military rule was unwelcome and worrisome to the people of Louisiana. The state would, like many others eventually, face dreadful reconstruction of government and would fall victim to needless spending and costly ventures.

The first Louisiana State note that was issued during the war was done so by the Confederacy. The capital of Baton Rouge was the source printed by Douglas in the city of New Orleans. The Act of January 23, 1862, was the authorized legislation before being printed and dated February 24, 1862. This was before the large occupation by the North. These notes indicated that they were to be paid “Twelve months after a definitive Treaty of Peace between the Confederate States and the United States.” This was seen on the back of notes from New Orleans and even Texas.

Notes issued from the state of Louisiana were vast as denominations represented were $1, $2, $3, $5, $20, $50, and $100. Even fractional notes were printed and issued from Shreveport by South-Western Print in 1864. These small denominations were also a part of a typeset featuring 25 cents, 50 cents, and $1. Even after the Civil War was over, $5, $10, and $20 notes were issued during the “reconstruction period” by the Act of February 9th, 1866, and printed by the American Bank Note Co. in New York.

Source: Confederate States Paper Money: Civil War Currency From the South (12th Edition) by George S. Cuhaj & William Brandimore