Treasure and Empire in the Civil War:
The Panamá Route, the West and the Campaigns
to Control America's Mineral Wealth

McFarland, 2024

Listed by Civil War Books and Authors as one of their "Ten Most Highly Anticipated Titles!"

Across North America's periphery, unknown and overlooked Civil War campaigns were waged over whether the United States of Confederacy would dominate lands, mines, and seaborne transportation networks of North America's mineral wealth. The United States needed this wealth to stabilize their wartime economy while the Confederacy sought to expand their own treasury. Confederate armies advanced to directly seize the West and its gold and silver reserves while warships steamed to intercept Panamá route ships transporting bullion from California to Panamá to New York. United States forces responded by expelling Confederate incursions and solidified territorial control by combating Indigenous populations and enacting laws encouraging frontier settlement. At sea, the US Navy patrolled key ports, convoyed treasure ships, and integrated continent-wide intelligence networks in the ultimate game of cat and mouse.

Explore the hemispheric land and sea adventures involving tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, admiral and explorer Charles Wilkes, renowned sea captain Raphael Semmes, General Henry Sibley, cowboy and mountain man Kit Carson, Indigenous leaders Mangas Coloradas and Geronimo, writer and miner Mark Twain, and Mormon leader Brigham Young. Dive into the forgotten campaigns to control North America's mineral wealth, linking the Civil War's military, naval, political, diplomatic, and economic elements like never before.

"Chatelain's research represents a significant new contribution" and "offers a deep and fresh examination of one of the more neglected aspects of the naval war fought between the United States and the Confederacy while also extending its considerable reach into related issues of concurrent wartime continental expansion, economic resource competition, and transnational politics."

Civil War Books and Authors.

"Neil P. Chatelain offers the reader who seeks almost all that's known on the routes to our nation's mineral wealth. ... Another splendid book McFarland & Company can be proud of!"
Don DeNevi, ARGunners Magazine

Treasure and Empire in the Civil War is a must-read for Civil War naval history enthusiasts! In the broader scope of desires of the U.S. and Confederate governments to control the West and Southwest, Chatelain details the underappreciated naval actions taken by both governments to support their economic and financial interests related to the gold and silver of those regions and their transport by ‘treasure’ ships to the East Coast.”
Gary McQuarrie, Managing Editor
Civil War Navy—The Magazine 

“Chatelain offers a broad narrative, weaving his careful research into an account encompassing the Pacific Coast, western states and territories, Latin America, and the West Indies. While keeping the focus on motives stemming from the American Civil War, he explores how the struggle for financial resources and territorial gains played out on the geographical edges—far from Gettysburg, Chickamauga, or Atlanta. Treasure and Empire in the Civil War is a needed and readable adventure into the international politics and financially-inspired intrigues that evolved as Confederates and Federals maneuvered for pieces of victory.”
Sarah Kay Bierle, Managing Editor,
Emerging Civil War 

Podcast with Preble Hall, the museum of the US Naval Academy, about Panama route convoys during the US Civil War.

Podcast with Emerging Civil War about the book Treasure and Empire in the Civil War.

Discussion on The American History Gazette in May 2024 about my book Treasure and Empire in the Civil War.

Presentation (beginning at 23:45 timestamp) given at the 2021 McMullen Naval History Symposium at the US Naval Academy, exploring the US Navy's convoys defending the Panamá route in the US Civil War.

N P Chatelain - Treasure and Empire in the Civil War - Supplemtal Convoy Documentation

 Supplemental Convoy Documentation to accompany
Treasure and Empire in the Civil War