The Arsenal Surrenders (1861)
In 1860, during "Nullification Troubles", the U.S. government re-enforced the arsenal with 22,000 muskets and rifles along with an artillery unit commanded by Captain Arnold Elzey. When Georgia seceded from the Union on January 19, 1861, Governor Joseph E. Brown called for the arsenal's surrender, a demand backed by a thousand local militiamen.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis charged Col. George Washington with establishing a powder works which would supply all of the Confederate ground forces. He chose Augusta and built the Confederate Powder Works, alongside the Augusta Canal and the Savannah River. It became the second largest powder manufactory in the world, turning out about 30,000 pounds of powder in a single day. Col. Rains commanded the powder works, the arsenal, and other city works, which contributed to the war effort. The arsenal also produced cavalry equipment, field gear, bayonet scabbards, and cartridge boxes.
About 30 companies of soldiers from our area trained at the arsenal, and more than 2,000 men were sent into active duty. A hospital was constructed on the site, and wounded Confederate solders were treated here. (The Academy of Richmond County was closed during the war, and their building was also used as a hospital.)
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