Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25, 1861 - An Account of the Seizure of the Augusta Arsenal in Georgia

January 25, 1861

Augusta Arsenal, Barracks in 1936.
The following report of the capture of the Augusta Arsenal by Georgia Militia forces began circulating in Southern newspapers 150 years ago today. The seizure had taken place on the 24th:

The seizure of the United States Arsenal at Augusta.,Ga., occupied by Capt. A. Elzey and 70 U. S. troops, has been noticed. The number of Georgia troops under arms was over 800, and large numbers of country people came in to see the expected difficulty. The arsenal was surrounded on the 23d, and the State troops were ordered out. The Governor however, would not order an assault until the next day. In the meantime, no answer was receive to the summons, and the next morning the troops were again assembled. The of 11 o'clock was first fixed for the assault but it was changed to 2 o'clock. Before that hour arrived, a note was received from Captain Elzey asking for an interview with Gov. Brown, of Georgia, and the Governor required to the arsenal, where terms of surrender were agreed on. - Widely reprinted newspaper account, January 25, 1861.
Augusta Arsenal, Armory in 1936

The arsenal would provide the South with the first part of what would become a massive military manufacturing center in Augusta. The city would emerge over the next four years as one of the Confederacy's key military supply points. Gunpowder from Augusta supplied Confederate armies throughout the war.

The surviving buildings of the complex are located on the campus of today's Augusta State University. They survived Sherman's March to the Sea, thanks to the decision of the Union general to pass just south of Augusta while on his way to Savannah, instead of aiming directly at Augusta.

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