Augusta Arsenal surrender re-enacted

Corey Perrine/Staff
Bobby Snider of North Augusta jokes while in formation Saturday at the Augusta Museum of History where Civil War re-enactors came out to replicate the 1861 surrender of the Augusta Arsenal.
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Col. William H.T. Walker mustered his ragtag militia and put them through their paces before issuing his final instruction.

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Civil War re-enactors replicated the 1861 surrender of the Augusta Arsenal at the Augusta Museum of History on Saturday. Afterward, they talked with patrons about the Civil War era. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the war.   Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Civil War re-enactors replicated the 1861 surrender of the Augusta Arsenal at the Augusta Museum of History on Saturday. Afterward, they talked with patrons about the Civil War era. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the war.

"We are Southern gentlemen," he said, his breath steaming in the cold January morning. "No running amok or hooting and hollering."

Walker's call for civility was returned by federal troops on Saturday during a re-enactment of the surrender of the Augusta Arsenal to the state of Georgia on Jan. 24, 1861.

The entire drama staged at the Augusta Museum of History was typical of the bloodless surrenders that occurred all over the South at the start of the Civil War, explained Kenneth Robison, who was playing the role of U.S. Army Capt. Arnold Elzey.

"It was the calm before the storm," he said.

Civil War re-enactments have been held for decades in the United States, but 2011 marks an important year as the 150th anniversary of the start of the war between the states.

In these early stages of the war, there was no Confederacy or Union and major figures such as General Robert E. Lee still had a commission with the U.S. Army.

On Saturday, Walker, played by Kenneth Truesdale, boldly walked up to the federal guards, identified himself and requested to speak with the garrison commander.

He was escorted to a corner of the museum lobby, where some old wooden chairs were pushed up to a table covered with a ragged gray blanket. Robison stood and greeted Truesdale warmly; their characters both graduated from West Point in 1837.

Robison politely but firmly declared he was there to reclaim the arsenal for the state of Georgia.

Truesdale smiled and declined, saying he had orders to the contrary from the War Department in Washington.

Despite his orders, it was only a token resistance.

Ordering his 85 men to fight off 1,000 members of the local militia "seems insane," Truesdale conceded. The captain had already drawn up the terms of agreement, which included a 33-gun salute to the American flag, safe passage to Savannah (where they would depart for New York) and to keep all federal property, including rifles and cannons.

Truesdale allowed him the first two terms of surrender, but he firmly denied the third condition. It was a useless request anyway, Robison later said, because there's no way 85 men could cart away 24,000 rifles.

"Even Rambo would be hard pressed with that one," Robison said.

With the terms settled, the two officers shook hands, doffed their hats and bid each other good day.

After the surrender in 1861, the soldiers were given a day to pack up and leave town, at which time 600 members of the Augusta Independent Battalion volunteer militia took their place and raised the flag of the Republic of Georgia.

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ChiefWanigas 01/22/11 - 07:34 pm
all under the tutelage Arnold

all under the tutelage Arnold Palmer.... must have been "Arnies Army"

fmm1249 01/23/11 - 01:19 pm
I didn't realize that

I didn't realize that sunglasses were available in 1861.

Navarro 01/23/11 - 01:54 pm
My Great-Great-Grandfather,

My Great-Great-Grandfather, Samuel Simpson Clem, and his brothers fought for South Carolina. These men were willing to give their lives to defend their homes as soldiers in every war do.

walrus4ever 01/23/11 - 05:20 pm
When Union soldiers were told

When Union soldiers were told not to fire "till they see the whites of the rebels eyes" a brilliant innovator, Gen Beauregard Oakley devised the designer sunglasses. this allowed the Confederates to advance in battle right up to the Union line and punch the Yankees in the nose. Unfortunately, the glasses cost so much it bankrupted the Confederacy and you know the rest. ( everyone else rewrites history so why cant I?)

usafveteran 02/16/11 - 02:19 pm
It was requested that the

It was requested that the Arsenal surrender take place at the actual arsenal buildings on the campus of Augusta State University; however, officials at the institution prohibited it from being conducted there. I suppose it's more important to be "political correct" than to provide public education through the re-enactment of an actual historical event. What a shame!

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