Aiken residents Edward and Tina Hallinan haven’t spent much time in Augusta, but they were intrigued when they read a newspaper article about a historical driving tour through downtown Augusta.
The couple were among nearly 50 people who gathered outside Fanning Hall at Georgia Regents University’s Summerville campus Saturday afternoon.
The tour was organized by GRU special collections librarian Carol Waggoner-Angleton and guided by GRU professor Debra Van Tuyll and University of South Carolina professor Thomas J. Brown.
“We’re just trying to learn some things that we didn’t know anything about before,” Tina Hallinan said. “First of all, we didn’t know where any of these places were. Now we can come back, look them over, spend a little time, do some more research.”
The tour began with a brief sketch of the Civil War role of the Augusta Arsenal, which largely served as a place to replenish military supplies.
“Nothing much happened in the arsenal during the Civil War,” Waggoner-Angleton said.
At Magnolia Cemetery, Confederate flags adorned the graves of more than 300 Confederate soldiers. The flags were placed there earlier in the day by the Sons of Confederate Veterans for their annual Confederate Memorial Day service.
It is rare for a Confederate cemetery to have that many marked graves, Brown said. He said many were likely patients of military hospitals and died of sickness rather than battle wounds.
“I’m guessing this hospital had someone who was very committed to keeping track of it,” he said.
Other stops on the tour included the old Richmond Academy, the Emily Tubman Memorial and the Four Poets Monument on Greene Street, the Confederate Memorial on Broad Street, and the Sibley Mill and Confederate Powderworks.
Each guest received a pamphlet with information on 13 places of interest. Though there were only seven stops, guests were encouraged to explore all of them on their own.
Don Maxwell, who moved from Atlanta two years ago to be near his daughter, enjoyed the opportunity to learn something about his new hometown.
“I love bus tours and I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I’m impressed.”
As Tina Hallinan strolled the median of Greene Street between the Emily Tubman Memorial and the Four Poets Monument, she said the tour has inspired her to explore more of Augusta.
“I was just telling my husband I’d like to go to the Woodrow Wilson House,” she said.