Augusta Arsenal (1828-1955)
The Augusta Arsenal was originally constructed
near the end of the second decade of the nineteenth century on a site
adjacent to the Savannah River just above the city of Augusta. This
proved to be an unhealthy location and not long after the arsenal was
occupied in 1819, nearly all the members of the garrison died in a fever
Due to this event the government eventually decided to relocate the
facility in a healthier environment and in November 1826 a tract of
approximately 70 acres was purchased for this purpose by the Arsenal's
first commandant, Capt M. M. Payne, from Freeman Walker.
The Walker tract, or "Bellevue tract", today the site of
the campus of Augusta State University,
is located to the west of Augusta's early nineteenth century outskirts
on a low sandy hill. Since the early 19th century, this area has
been known as Summerville. During
1827 and 1828 the Arsenal buildings were dismantled and the materials
were transported to the new locale where it was reconstructed.
An Augusta volunteer unit, the Clinch Rifles,
are shown in this woodcut from Frank
Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
(March 1861) on parade in front of the Augusta Arsenal quadrangle.
The building on the left is the commandant's quarters, junior officers
quarters are on the right while the center building is the 'arsenal'
or storehouse building. On the west side of the Arsenal quadrangle
stood the enlisted men's barracks (on the opposite
side of the quad to the rear of these buildings - see 1875 map below).
All of these structures survive as administrative facilities for Augusta
State University, a unit of the University System of Georgia.
The Augusta Arsenal site has been officially designated as site number
9-Ri-1045 in the Georgia State Site files in Athens.
An early 20th century photograph
of the main Arsenal storage building
Until the Civil War the Arsenal functioned
as a part of the U.S. military establishment, however, during the War,
it was occupied by Confederate forces for the duration of the conflict.
The Arsenal, along with the Confederate Powder
Works, and other facilities in the city, made a major contribution
to the war effort of the southern states by providing weapons and munitions
to the Confederate forces.
During the Civil War, the Confederate government constructed a variety
of facilities in the Augusta area to advance their capacity to wage
the war. The Confederate Powder Works, which incorporated the
tract of land on which the Augusta Arsenal had been located before being
moved to the hill site in 1827-28, made a major contribution to the
war effort. At the Arsenal itself, a large (over 500 feet long)
production shop building was erected near the eastern boundary of the
post during 1861, the first year of the war.
The 1861 shop building served a variety of functions during that war
and was retained later when federal troops reoccupied the Arsenal at
the end of the Civil War. It was in use until the closure of the
Arsenal in the mid-1950s. The location of the original quadrangle
buildings (moved to the hill site in the 1820s) and the 1861 Confederate
shop building are shown on the map below which dates to ten years after
the end of the Civil War.
Map showing the facilities at
the Augusta Arsenal in 1875
Please submit corrections or questions about this site to Dr. Christopher
Murphy at email@example.com, (706) 737-1709, or Department of History &
Anthropology, Augusta State University, Augusta, GA 30904-2200. If
you know of persons who worked or lived at the Augusta Arsenal and would be
willing to share their recollections with us, please contact Dr. Murphy at
one of the addresses above.
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