Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Augusta is home to one of the most important relics of the Civil War – the Confederate Powder Works.
Tony Carr Jr., a local historian, said the Powder Works was an integral piece of the Confederacy.
“It established a supply of gunpowder that could supply the Confederacy with all their needs,” he said. “Importation of gunpowder had driven the price up, from 30 cents a pound to $3 a pound. By building the Powder Works, the Confederate government saved $1.5 million.”
Although Col. G.W. Rains didn’t know how to make gunpowder or have machinery to make it, he built the Powder Works using only a pamphlet from an English manufacturer.
“The gunpowder it produced was the best ever seen,” Carr said. “It was the most up-to-date gunpowder plant in the world. The South didn’t lose the war because of a lack of gunpowder after the Powder Works was built.”
When the Powder Works was built, starting in 1861, Raines selected Augusta for a location over many port cities in the South.
“He located in Augusta for so many reasons: it was central, it was so far inland he didn’t have to worry about a sea invasion, he didn’t think he had to worry about a land invasion, also, the canal made a tremendous difference because he could move material up and down the canal,” Carr said.
Brenda Baratto, director of the Heritage Council, called the Powder Works “crucial” for the area.
“It was so important to the whole area; had (Gen.) Sherman come through and destroyed the Powder Works our whole history would have been rewritten,” she said. “It’s just the ‘what if?’ and the amazing part is that the Powder Works was the only building that was designed, paid for and built by the Confederate States of America.”
Carr’s talk on the Powder Works drew around 50 people to the Heritage Council meeting, which was very exciting for Baratto.
“We had a crossover audience, because of Tony’s father – Tony Carr Sr. was so instrumental in preserving so much of the history of the area,” she said. “We had people who are members of local chapters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Horse Creek Antique Bottle and Pottery club, the Heritage Council and more groups.”
The next scheduled meeting of the Heritage Council is Sept. 2 at 7 p.m., although the Council will have other events before the meeting.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.