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This Day in Georgia History

January 24, 1861

Augusta Arsenal Surrendered

Having been ordered by Georgia to surrender the U.S. Arsenal at Augusta, Capt. Arnold Elzey received a telegram at 1 a.m. from the U.S. Secretary of War directing: “It is not expected that your defense should be desperate. If forced to surrender by violence or starvation, you will stipulate for honorable terms, and a free passage by water with your company to New York.” Later that morning, Capt. Elzey sent a message to Georgia Gov. Joseph E. Brown requesting an honorable surrender. Augusta militia units took possession of the arsenal, along with four cannons, 22,00 muskets and rifles, and supplies of powder and shot. At 4:00 that afternoon, a white flag with a large red star in the center signifying Georgia’s sovereignty was raised over the facility. Capt. Elzey and his garrison subsequently left Georgia. He went to Washington, D.C., where soon after the firing on Fort Sumter, he resigned his commission with the U.S. Army and traveled to Richmond, Virginia. After offering his services to the Confederate Army, he was named colonel of a Maryland unit. After the Battle of First Manassas, he was given a promotion to brigadier general. In 1862, he was promoted to the rank of major general.