Special Report: Augusta Arsenal paved the way for Augusta's hist - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Special Report: Augusta Arsenal paved the way for Augusta's history


We work, eat and play right on top of rich history every day in the CSRA. At Augusta University, a walk across campus is also a history lesson.

If it isn't evident by the cannons, spiked iron fences and gun holes in the brick walls, the very place students attend class at Augusta University was also a military stronghold throughout the Civil War. If you are telling the history of Augusta, it cannot be understated how the Augusta Arsenal started a butterfly effect to our city's history.

Payne Hall, part of the old Arsenal

Payne Hall, part of the old Arsenal (WFXG)

"Twenty years before the civil war, William Tecumseh Sherman was stationed here as a young officer at the Augusta Arsenal," says Stan Byrdy.

You may think Bobby Jones and James Brown as some of the most influential people in Augusta's history, but historian Stan Byrdy says William Tecumseh Sherman's decision to avoid Augusta and the arsenal during the Civil War paved the way for Augusta to be considered the model city in the post-Civil War era. "He knew what was in play here so he took the road to Savannah and up, then left Augusta standing."

Stan Byrdy and Jake Rakoci

Stan Byrdy and Jake Rakoci examine one of the Arsenal's antique cannons (WFXG)

That decision to leave Augusta intact made Augusta the winter resort capital of North America all thanks to this historical military stronghold on Augusta Universities' campus. Faculty like Leza Witherington says she'll take working on top of history over a cubicle any day. "There's such great stories about this campus, I don't know them all but there are so many great memories. It's new history, it's old history and it just kind of connects everybody."

Augusta stayed intact while much of the South was in ruins, and that led to the money coming to the Garden City. "Bobby Jones naturally came here because the money was here, but it all started with this Arsenal building way back when," says Byrdy.

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