This letter from James H. Burton, Superintendent of Armories, CSA, to Colonel Josiah Gorgas, Confederate Chief of Ordnance, on June 25, 1862 described Burton's selection of Macon, Georgia as the site for a permanent national armory. The full text of the letter follows:
"Since writing to you last I have again visited Macon at the request of several of the leading citizens of that city, and the result of my visit, together with certain circumstances which have occured here, have greatly tended to influence me to reconsider my recommendations in favor of this place as a location for the new Armory. When I left here on last Sunday for Macon, I thought that I had made complete arrangements for the purchase of the piece of land mentioned in my last letter to you, and had employed a lawyer to look into the title, prepare papers, &c. &c. On my return he informs me that a "warranty deed" is refused to be given to the party who controls the property and hence I have declined to consummate the purchase. The fact of the business is that the party who controls the property because of a mortgage on the same, is a large property owner in this city, and it is my opinion that he desires to become the owner of the property eventually himself, and hence throws this obstacle in the way to prevent the sale to the Govt. particularly as I had bargained for it at a fair rate. This illustrates the prevailing feeling manifested by the people generally of this place towards the Govt. through its Agents. This, of course, forces me to look about again for a means to set up the Stock Machines, and, as events have transpired, I think they will prove to be for thebest after all, as I will proceed to explain.
"In the first place, the citizens of Macon are most anxious for the location of the Armory at that place, as I before mentioned, whilst quite the contrary seems to be the prevailing sentiment here. Upon the occasion of my late visit to Macon, I was called upon by one of the leading citizens, who requested me to ride with him around the city, and examine the ground with reference to the requirements of the proposed Armory. As I observed in a former letter, Macon offers superior advantages with respect to eligible sites, and upon this occasion I found one offering everything that could be desired for the purpose. the land belongs to the City of Macon, is well within the city limits, is sufficiently high to be healthy, and is both well watered and joins a Railroad. In fact, it is a beautiful site for the purpose in view, and I doubt if another so favorable could be found. But there is another great advantage offered in connection with it. the citizens, Mayor & Council very properly anticipating the advantages to be derived from the location of so large a Govt. establishment in it, have determined to do a most liberal act in order to secure these advatages. I am therefore authorized to inform you that the City of Macon will make a free gift to the C.S. Govt. of about 30 acres of land, embracing the beforementioned eligible site for the Armory, upon the condition that it shall be located thereon. When it is considered that this land is now worth $1000 per acre, the liberality of the offer will be most manifest, and I at once took the occasion to thank the city authorities in the name of the C.S. Govt., through the gentleman acting for the foreman, for the very liberal proposition they offered, and which I stated I would seriously consider.
"Now, here is a good opportunity of accomplishing, without cost, what it seems I cannot accomplish at this place at any cost. The objections to Atlanta in this connection are increasing daily. There are now several thousand sick soldiers in hospitals here, and the prices of provisions have increased greatly within a few weeks I ahve been here. Flour is selling at from $20 to 23 per bbl. Salt $50 per sack &c. &c. and I fear that mechanics cannot live here on such wages as ought to be paid to them. There is difficulty also in obtaining houses owing to the unusual influx of strangers from the coast, and elsewhere. Then there are little or no facilities here for building, or doing work of any kind, and no materials, as I before mentioned. In all these particulars Macon has the advantage, and in view of facts as they now exist, I, without hesitation, am induced to recommend that the liberal offer of the City of Macon be accepted, and that steps be at once taken to commence operations there. I have done nothing here to commit me in the least to this place, and the work can go on in Macon as well as it could here. The bill of timber I have ordered willonly have to be transported there from here when it is delivered. Fortunately, I have kept all the Stock Machines in the cars here, so that they can be at once sent on to Macon without trouble, and I shall be able to erect them quite as soon in Macon as in this place. I therefore respectfully recommend that the offer of the cIty of Macon be accepted by the Govt. and that you instruct me to locate both the Armory and the Stock Machines at that place. I might state other advantages to be derived from the choice of the latter place, but I deem it unnecessary, as those I have stated will be sufficient. I do not doubt, to induce the Govt. to decide in its favor.
"I confess that I am disappointed in Atlanta as a location for the Armory, and my last letter will have prepared you for some recommendation similar to that I now make. Speculation in real estate seems to be the sole object in view by the citizens of this place, and hence the indifference manifested towards the establishment of manufacturing, and other enterprizes of industry. This state of things must change before Atlanta can become a thriving city. In order to save time, please telegraph me with reference to the proposed change in location on the terms stated."
from National Archives, Record Group 109, Chapter IV, Volume 20.
This letter from Colonel James H. Burton, Superintendent of Armories, CSA, to General Josiah Gorgas, Confederate Chief of Ordnance, on December 7, 1864 described the state of affairs at the Macon Armory. The full text of the letter follows:
"I have the honor to report that in consequence of the advance of General Sherman and his army through Ga. need in compliance with your instructions of 30th Sept ulto with reference to the removal of the Machinery & Stores at this Armory in the event of Macon being threatened by the enemy, and also acting under the advice of Maj. Gen. Howell Cobb Comdg Mil Dist of Georgia, with whom I conferred personally, the entire machinery at this Armory was taken down about the middle of last month and packed in cases for transportation and the greater portion of it sent away as follows : All the machines in charge of the M.S. K. were sent to Savannnah Ga. Also the greater portion of the machines in Machine Shop. The machinery for the manufacture of pistols I regarded as pertaining to the New Armory, and I therefore decided to send it to Columbia S.C. along with the foreign machinery and such as has had been constricted at this Armory for the Manufacture of Arms. Only about half of the pistol machinery was shipped before the Centrall R.R. was occupied by the enemy and also about two-thirds of the foreign machinery, and about one half of the arms machinery constructed here.
"No stores have been sent away and consequently all are still on hand here. So far as the machinery of the Machine Shop is concerned, its absence will not materially affect active operations here, as workmen have not been available to employ it for some time past. I have re-erected two or three lathes, drill plainer &c &c. in the machine shop, and fortunately had on hand a small portable steam engine of about 2 H.Power which I have had placed in position in the shop and which furnishes power sufficient to drive about 60 feet of shafting and above mentioned tools. This enables me to make necessary repairs to machinery &c.
"With reference to future operations at this Armory, I respectfully recommend as follows, viz: 1st The completion for occupancy at once the wing of the New Armory building now being roofed in, and which will be completed with temporary roof of shingles in from 3 to 4 weeks from this time. 2nd The re-erection on the 2nd floor of this wing of the pistol machinery. 3rd The reerection on the 1st floor of same wing of the machinery of Machine Shop for which purpose this portion of the building was originally designed. 4th The erection of the Steam Engine & Boiler lately employed at temporary works under a temporary shed in the yard adjoining the above specified wing, for the purpose of driving machine shop & pistol factory. 5th The abandonment of the tempoary works for manufacturing purposes and the soncentration of all at the New Armory.
"The advantages of this arrangement will be obvious. The appropriation of the buildings at the temporary works will be referred to in a future letter. I have already in anticipation of your approval of what I now recommed commenced the reerection of the steam engine & boiler at the New Works, and am pushing on the building to completion. In the mean time the Armorers are employed in repairing arms and in performing such work on parts of pistols as may be done without machinery.
"Genl Cobb is engaged at present in making arrangements for the establishment of a wagon train between Milledgeville & Mayfield the present terminus of the Warrenton Brance of the Ga RR (35 miles) which he expects to have inoperation in two weeks time. He kindly offers to transport the pistol machinery on wagons, which will be available for this purpose. The machinery is light and can be readily transported.
"I respectfully request your approval of my suggestions as herein contained at the earliest moment possible in order that I may make all necessary arrangements with as little delay as possible.
"P.S. This will be sent by the line of couriers established by Genl Cobb via Milledgeville & Mayfield by which route a reply will soonest reach me. A telegram through Col. Rains will be the shortest method of communication.
from National Archives, Record Group 109, Chapter IV, Volume 29.
The following letter was written by Colonel James H. Burton, Superintendent of Armories, CSA to Major W. McBurney, a US ordnance officer, on July 5, 1865. The letter is one of the most descriptive single letters describing the armory in Macon, Georgia. The entire text of the letter follows:
"In compliance with your verbal request of this date I have the honor to submit for your information, the following statement, of the public property in, or pertaining to, the Armory in this City lately in my charge at the time of its occupation by the U.S. troops on the evening of 20th April last. In submitting this statement at this time I beg to remark that it is prepared from my recollection solely, the books & papers of the establishment being out of my possession: and further, that it would have been prepared and forwarded at an earlier day had you requested it. Macon Armory embraced two separate works, viz: - the "Temporary Works" located on Cotton Avenue, and the "Permanent Works" located near the western limits of the City on the line of the Macon & Western Railroad.
"The ground upon which the Temporary Works are located was rented of the City at the annual rental of $1000 payable semi-annually, and included one brick office building on left of entrance, one brick depot building one story high, one old frame building originally used as a car shed, on the right as you enter, one frame stable near the back end of the car shed, and one small frame house of two stories, also on the right as you enter. These buildings belong to the City of Macon. The improvements made by the Govt. are as follows, viz; one large two story frame building on brick foundations. 200 x 35 feet. One frame building of one story, about 100 x 35 feet, used as Smith's Shop. One frame building of one story, about 30 x 18 feet, used as brass foundry, one frame building of one story, about 80 x 30 feet, used as store house. One brick building of one story, about 40 x 25 feet used as boiler & engine house. One brick chimney near do. 60 feet high. One small steam chamber on brick piers in rear of boiler & engine house - one washshed in rear of large building first described for use of workmen, two frame privies. One frame Sentry box inside on left of entrance, one frame Guard house about 12 x 12 feet outside of the enclosure near entrance; two small sentry boxes outside of enclosure; one large cistern about 20 x 20 feet x 10 feet deep in centre of quadrangle formed by buildings; and the fence enclosing the premises.
"The small stores of the Armory were, for the most part, kept at these works, in the store room above referred to, and in some of the other buildings. The requirements being limited to the purposes of this Armory only the supply on hand was not large and consisted chiefly of the following articles and estimated quantities, viz: assortment of rolled iron bars - about 20 tons, located in end of Smith's Shop. Assortment of bar steel in cases, about 12 cases, engot and scrap copper & brass, about 1500 lbs; assortment of nails about 30 kegs. Assortment of window glass about 50 boxes; assortment of files about 75 dozen. Machine oil in large tin cans, about 150 gallons. Servants coarse cloth and cotton osenabays, one bale of each. Small assortment of building hardware and sundry small articles such as are usually required in similar establishments. About 50 tons of old iron castings in the yard back of boiler & engine house, and about 50 bushels of charcoal under shed near Smith's Shop. The Store Keeper had charge also of machinery not in current service of which there was about 35 cases in the store room, consisting of foreign and domestic machinery adapted to the fabrication of small arms. Also several machines of similar character not boxed. No portion of the Armory stores, other than machinery, had been sent away prior to the occupation by U.S. Troops.
"The workshops contracted some complete and incomplete machinery, but no great quantity as the most of the machinery which was in current service had either been sent away to Savannah, Ga. and Columbia, S.C. or removed to the permanent works. the following I recollect as remaining, viz: one small portable steam engine on wheels about 2 H.P. One large railroad Lathe complete. One large iron Planer, incomplete, one large iron planer, also incomplete, a number of large iron pulleys & wheels for tilt hammers. All of the above in large building described as No. 1. One fire engine, hose reel and about 300 feet leather hose in car shed described above. In the Smith's Shop - Five large cast iron smiths forges. In the yard near smith's shop and privy - a lot of iron castings, pulleys, and parts of machinery about 10 tons in all. Also several Smith's Anvils. One cast iron box forge, complete, and several smaller cast iron forges, complete. the offices contained the usual office furniture, one medium size fire proof safe in good order in lower office, and one old fire proof safe in upper office.
"The old depot building contained the cast iron beds of several lathes &c. the other parts of which had been sent to Savannah or Columbia. In this building was also stored a large quantity of corn in sacks, the property of the Commissary or Q. Master's Dept. I do not know which - stored therein by the Commandant of the Post. I never heard the quantity stated, but the building was nearly, if not quite full. This corn was not in my charge, nor was I responsible for it in any was whatever. These premises were rented of the city conditioned that the Govt. had the right to remove all improvements erected thereon by the Govt. The rent had been paid up to Jan 1st 1865.
"The Permanent Works embrace the following real estate and buildings, viz: 42½ acres of land enclosed by a board fence 9 feet high on which tract the Armory buildings proper were being erected. This tract of land was granted by the City of Macon to the Govt. on two simple conditions that it was to remain the property of the Govt. so long as it was used for Armory purposes and that the Govt. should construct and keep in repair a road in front of the Armory adjoining the Railroad. The deed is on record in the Clerk's office of the County of Bibb, and can be readily be referred to if necessary. The original deeds for the several lots of land acquired for the Armory were with the official papers of the Armory when sent away to Greensboro, Ga. about 17th April last. The buildings on this tract are as follows, viz:
"1st One main building of brick on stone foundations, about 625 x 40 feet, two stories high, with two flank towers 3 stories high, double central tower 4 stories high: and one wing in rear 160 x 40 feet 2 stories high. This building is not yet under roof, with the exception of the wing and two flank towers, which have been temporarily covered with shingles. 2d One brick building, about 70 x 50 feet, one story high, covered with slate and used temporarily as a carpenters shop. 3d One brick building, about 110 x 80 feet, one story high, partially under temporary roof of shingles, and located east of wing of main building. 4th Two small frame buildings about 30 x 18 feet each, one story high, used as lime house and foreman's office respectively, and located in rear of center of main building. 5th One small frame building about 30 x 15 feet, one story high, used as foreman's office and small store room, and located in rear of east end of main building near the rivulet. 6th One temporary frame building about 80 x 40 feet, one story high, used as carpenters shop, and located near the last described office. 7th One frame stable and sheds adjoining, affording shelter for about 30 head of horses and mules. 8th One frame building about 35 x 20 feet, one story high, used as a smoke house for meat, and located N.E. of main building, near the rivulet. 9th One frame building about 25 x 15 feet, one story high, used as an Engine room, and located immediately in rear of main building. 10th One frame building, about 25 x 18 feet, one story high, used as Architects' Office and located on hill in rear of main building. 11th One frame cottage dwelling, about 40 x 30 feet, one story high, with necessary out buildings and enclosing fence; occupied by Mr. J. Fuss, Acting Master Armorer, and located at east end of Armory grounds. 12th One frame cottage dwelling same dimensions c. as last one enumerated, occupied by Mr. B.H. Perry, Foreman of Carpenters, and located at west end of Armory grounds near the rivulet. 13th One frame Cottage dwelling, similar to the above two, but having rooms in the attic, occupied by Mr. H. Herrington, Master Machinist, and located adjoining the last dwelling described. 14th Brick foundations for cottage dwelling, adjoining the last described, commenced by the Lt. Col. J.W. Mallet, Supt. of Laboratories, by my permission, and to be used as quarters for himself and assistants. 15th All other minor buildings or sheds that may not be above enumerated.
"1st. The machinery at these works comprised about one half of a set of machines for the manufacture of pistols, consisting of milling machines, drills, lathes, c. about 25 in all, and erected on 2d floor of wing of main building, together with 160 feet of main line shafting, with hangers &c. complete & erected. 2d. A few machines shop tools, consisting of about three lathes, one planer, one shaper, one or two upright drills, one large grindstone, one fan blower, about 20 bench vices, and 140 feet of main line shafting with hangers complete, all erected on 1st floor of wing of main building. 3d. One horizontal steam engine with boiler, about 35 H. Power, erected in temporary engine room described as No. 9 and furnishing motive power for driving the above described machinery. 4th. Belting and small tools & fixtures belonging to the above machinery and parts of pistols in various stages of progress were in wing of main building. 5th. One horizontal steam engine and boiler about 15 H. Power, located adjoining building described as No. 2 and furnishing motive power for driving machinery therein. 6th. Set of wood working machinery, consisting of 2 wood planing machines, 2 circular saws, 1 moulding machine, 1 turning machine, 1 jig saw, 1 mortising machine, 1 lathe, and 1 grindstone frame of iron with stone. About 60 feet of main line shafting & hangers complete. All erected in building described as No. 2. 7th. One traveling crane & windlass, for hoisting stone coping &c. 8th. Two flue boilers, with iron fronts, fire bars &c. not in use, lying near west end of main building. 9th. Lot of cast iron flanch pipe about 12 inches diameter lying at foot of hill in rear of main building. 10th. Two cast iron forges, (1 large & 1 small) in, or near to the building described as No. 3. 11th. Lot of dump carts, about 10 in all, and lot of wheelbarrows about 12. 12th. Lot of shovels, spades, picks & crowbars. 13th. A few carpenters & millwrights tools.
"Among the building materials the following are the chief items, viz: a large lot of lumber, probably 300,000 feet B.M., a large lot of dressed stone for window & door sills, door jambs & arches, and a number of pieces of dressed stone coping for main building, and lying in front of it. A lot of roofing slate, probably about 100 squares. A lot of lime in lime house about 40 casks. A lot of bricks, probably 100,000 of all sorts. A lot of finished window frames for wings of main building, and lot of unfinished inside fittings for central tower of Do. Lot of cast iron ventilators for main building and wings. Lot of cast iron bases for columns for 1st floor of main building & wings, lying near lime house. Lot of pine shingles, probably about 70,000, got out by Armory employees on the land of Barrel Dykes near Dyke's Mill on the Macon & Brunswick R.R. and for the tender of which Mr. Dykes has not been paid. These shingles have not been removed to my knowledge from the place where made.
"In addition to the 42½ acre tract before mentioned there is a detached lot containing about 4 acres lying west of it on the hill, a street intervening between. This lot was purchased of the City and paid for and deed given for same, which has been duly entered upon the Bibb Co. records. On the lot is a frame cottage dwelling about 40 x 32 feet, one story high, with necessary out buildings, and occupied by Mr. Oliver Porter, Overseer of Laborers. Also, eight frame buildings about 36 x 18 feet each, one story high, and occupied as negro quarters. A board fence 9 feet high encloses the entire lot of 4 acres. Outside of this lot six (6) similar negro houses have been erected on land intended to be purchased of the City, but not acquired. The transaction did not extend beyond the agreement upon a price for the desired land, and the buildings can be removed at pleasure.
"There is also a third parcel of land, about 12 acres, I think, purchased of Wm. A. Cherry and paid for. It lies in the swamp below the city reserve and was used as a brick yard. On it there were four brick making machines and sheds, and one frame building about 30 x 15 feet, used as a tool house. Also a lot of lumber used as shelter for kilns, and probably a few shovels, spades & wheelbarrows.
"The above comprises all the real estate acquired for the purpose of the Armory. I am not aware that there is any property away from the Armory, purchased but not delivered, unless it be a few heavy pieces of dressed stone at Stone Mountain, Ga. for which stone Messrs. Wood, Meador & Co. were contractors. I am not certain that they were paid for them however.
"The mules, wagons and harnesses pertaining to the Armory were sent away to Greensboro, Ga. with the official books & papers of the several Ordnance establishments in Macon, of Columbus Arsenal, and of the Ordnance Office of the Army of Tenn. in charge of Lt. Chas. Selden, M.S.K. I have understood that one or more teams & wagons were returned to the Armory by Lt. Selden, but I have not received definite information on the subject. I believe there were two or more public mules in the stables at the Armory at the time it was taken possession of by the U.S. Troops. One public horse was stolen from my private stable by the first troops who entered the City on the night of 20th April last. There were two or three 2 mule teams & wagons down the country in Pulaski Co. hauling shingles and collecting prudence, but I have not been able to obtain information of what became of them since the above date.
from James H. Burton Papers, Manucsripts and Archives, Yale University Library.
Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to e-mail me.
Letters 2 [Next]