Hamburg lost out in competition with Augusta

Augusta's former rival repopulated briefly after the Civil War

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 4:48 PM
Last updated Sunday, April 21, 2013 9:41 PM
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The lost city of Hamburg actually died twice – and today, even its bronze historical marker is listed as missing.

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Historian Peter Hughes, of Augusta, portrays Henry Shultz, founder of Hamburg, at a North Augusta Heritage Council meeting. Hamburg once stood across the Savannah River from Augusta, in the vicinity of The River Golf Club.   CRYSTAL GARCIA/FILE
Historian Peter Hughes, of Augusta, portrays Henry Shultz, founder of Hamburg, at a North Augusta Heritage Council meeting. Hamburg once stood across the Savannah River from Augusta, in the vicinity of The River Golf Club.

Founded by German immigrant Henry Schultz in 1821, the waterfront town was established directly across the Savannah River from Augusta with the intent of competing for the lucrative cotton shipping trade.

Elizabeth Murphy Rosson, editor of The History of North Augusta, said Schultz was an aggressive businessman whose losses left him angry and embittered toward Augusta.

He and partner John McKinne owned a toll bridge linking South Carolina with Augusta in 1814, and by 1816 they owned and operated the Bridge Bank. By 1819, the bank had failed and debtors seized the bridge.

“He devoted the rest of his life to building the town of Hamburg, just opposite Augusta, with the hope of ruining Augusta as a trading center,’” Rosson wrote.

Aided by a loan from the South Carolina Legislature, he created a town that also served as a terminus for a rail line to Charleston.

By 1823, according to a story in The Augusta Chronicle, Hamburg was more than just a facade to taunt Augusta, with almost 1,000 residents and a bustling business district. It attracted visitors, including the Marquis de Lafayette, who toured the town on March 24, 1825.

As Hamburg grew, Augustans made plans of their own.

A new canal was built to improve shipping and provide hydropower for industry – and the completion of a major railroad bridge allowed trains to continue past the Charleston rail line’s former endpoint at Hamburg and into Augusta.

As Schultz’s fortunes declined, the entrepreneur again fell into financial troubles, leading to a failed suicide attempt.

He died a few years later, in 1851, leaving behind a legend that says he was buried on his horse – with his back forever turned to

Though Hamburg was a virtual ghost town by the time the Civil War erupted, it enjoyed a brief – but violent – reincarnation after the war as a rough-and-tumble haven for freedmen who repopulated and governed the village.

In 1876, however, a confrontation between black milita and a white farmer erupted into an armed conflict that led to rioting and the slayings of five black menand a young white man. The event became known as the Hamburg Massacre.

It provoked outrage all the way to Washington, where President Ulysses S. Grant gave a speech to the U.S. Senate characterizing the event as a “disgraceful and brutal slaughter of unoffending men.”

After the violent episode, the town of Hamburg continued to decline.

Though Augusta built a levee after a devastating flood in 1911, historian and author Edward Cashin noted that Hamburg remained unprotected and was flooded again in 1929, when its last residents left and the once proud village was officially dead.


MONDAY: The demise of Pinetucky, a tranquil settlement southwest of Augusta, began with the creation of Fort Gordon.

TUESDAY: Dunbarton was dismantled and evacuated to make way for Savannah River Site.

TODAY: Hamburg was built across the Savannah River with the hope of ruining Augusta as a trading center.

THURSDAY: Slave artisans created hundreds of thousands of stoneware vessels in Edgefield County’s Pottersville.

FRIDAY: Residents of Ellenton were forced to surrender their land to make way for the government’s “bomb plant.”

SATURDAY: The decline of tobacco and commerce along the river led to the extinction of Vienna, whose remnants lie beneath Thurmond Lake.

SUNDAY: With the planning of Clarks Hill reservoir, Petersburg was within the area inundated when the dam flooded 70,000 acres.

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nocnoc 04/09/13 - 07:03 pm
For some real history

on how Augusta Powerful families wheeled and dealed to kill Hamburg

Terror After Appomattox
By Stephen Budiansky

It also discusses how once the foot bridge was finished the AUGUSTA Bank called in the Loan to take control and sell it to an Augusta Family.

It discusses how Augusta paid vigilantes to invade Hamburg with the intent to kill the Mayor and Sheriff. Some escaped to the swamps but the invaders managed to murder over 20 people.

Yes Augusta has its own version of ROSEWOOD to deal with.
But so far the certain Augusta Families and people have managed to keep it out of the major history books.

Riverman1 04/10/13 - 08:15 am
Nocnoc, that's interesting.

Nocnoc, that's interesting. When I was growing up in SC the history books talked about the railroad from Charleston to Hamburg.

JRC2024 04/10/13 - 08:53 am
Quoting from the book, who

Quoting from the book, who are the Augusta families you are talking about?

Rob Pavey 04/10/13 - 10:34 am
speaking of missing Augusta history.....

nocnoc (with you guys had real names) if you like Augusta history that somehow isnt in the local history books you might enjoy the upcoming segment on the S.C. town of Vienna you are correct that certain chapters of Augusta history are absent from local books - either by accident or for land one example you might particularly enjoy is in an upcoming lost city vignette - on the South Carolina town of Vienna.

nocnoc 04/10/13 - 05:51 pm
Which Families?

Good Question.
I purchased the book at Big Lots 3 years ago read it, remember some of the highlights, Pass the book on to a friend.

Guess I'll have to swing by 2nd Charles and get a another copy and read up again. It was a very interesting read using personal letters and business correspondence to document history.

It also covers Edgefield SC and other CSRA locations in a very negative light.

nocnoc 04/14/13 - 07:26 am
Well I went out re-purchased

Well I went out re-purchased THE BLOODY SHIRT.

Using the Index I past along some page numbers and names.

The book has about 20-30 pages that deal with Augusta, Edgefield and Hamburg.

It shows how Hamburg being a Republican operated town run by freed salves as elected officials, upset a lot of the bigoted White Democrats on the GA. side and surrounding SC areas. The Butler's and the Tillman's families being the most noted in the book playing major roles in the July 8 & 9 1876 massacre.

May I also suggest

These links cover a few interesting items.
Including a large North Augusta monument erected to the only White (a democrat) rioter that was killed in the Hamburg Massacre of Freed Salve Republicans.

As a side note.
Here is a classic example of a populous not being allowed to arm & protect itself. Its own law enforcement was disarmed by an invading large (200+ strong) mob and were also murdered along with many residents in a massacre.

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