Historic Markers Across Georgia

The Augusta Arsenal

Marker ID:  
Location: Near Arsenal Ave. and Belleview Ave., Augusta, GA
County: Richmond
Coordinates: N 33° 28.59    W 082° 1.497
  33.4765    -82.02495
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


The Augusta Arsenal
A "great arsenal of construction¨."

On January 24, 1861 five days after Georgia's secession from the Union, Governor Joseph E. Brown accepted the surrender of the United States Arsenal at Augusta from Captain Arnold Elzey. {Picture included} Brown rejected Elzey's request that his troops be allowed to take their arms, they having " brought none with them." Thus Georgia acquired 27,000 muskets and rifles, two cannon, and two twelve-pound howitzers. The Augusta Chronicle reported the departing Federals "fired a national salute of 33 guns, lowered the stars and stripes from the flag-staff, and formally gave up the position. The independent flag of the Republic of Georgia was hoisted in its stead, and the affair was over." As 82 Federal troops marched out, a detachment of the six hundred man Augusta Independent Battalion volunteer militia took command. The Augusta Arsenal would play a major role in supplying the Confederates, becoming the lower South's arsenal most responsible for the production and repair of field artillery during the war.

By mid-1861, Confederate Chief of Ordnance Josiah Gorgas began making the Augusta site a "great arsenal of construction where ammunition, field and siege artillery projectiles and ordnance stores in general [would] be made in large quantities."The first Confederate commandant, Captain W.G. Gill, oversaw construction of a massive brick building on the eastern boundary of the arsenal. It housed a [words covered by framework] (right side text) department of field artillery. By the end of the war a portion of it also served as a hospital. The construction of many other new buildings occurred after Lieutenant Colonel George Washington Rains took command in April 1862.

Rains's employees included a chemist, a master armorer, and many artisans. The significance of the work in the arsenal made the male workers draft-exempt. However, they did form as a home defense unit to protect the facility in case of attack. Other workers included blacks, woman and even children, who made cartridges and the bags to carry them.

{Picture included: Review of the Clinch Rifles
on the parade ground of the Augusta Arsenal,
February 1861}

From 1863 through 1865 the arsenal manufactured large quantities of war material from 73,521 horseshoes to 4,622,000 lead balls; from 10,575 powder boxes to 10,760,000 cartridges for small arms; from 2,445 saddles to 1,000,000 percussion caps. Field artillery and equipment for both infantry and cavalry poured from the Augusta Arsenal to Confederate soldiers on battlefields throughout the South, particularly for those defending Georgia.

Union Major General William T. Sherman's army threatened Augusta during its "March to the Sea" in late November 1864. Preparations were made to move much equipment to safety, until the Federal army turned toward Savannah. The war ended for Augusta on May 3, 1865, when Federal troops entered the city. Captain W.H. Warren, acting for Col. Rains, surrendered the arsenal to Union Major General Emory Upton. Once again the stars and stripes (words covered by framework) [for the United States Arsenal] (Pictures included)

Flag of the "Republic of Georgia" William H. T. Walker, participant in the January 24, 1861, seizure, later became a Confederate Major General killed during the July 22, 1864 Battle of Atlanta, and buried in his family's cemetery at the Augusta Arsenal.

Map of Augusta Arsenal
(Pictures courtesy of Augusta Museum of History)

Erected by Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails.

[to view photos of this marker, see HMDB.org]