Front view of the C.S. Armory at Macon, Georgia drawn by Augustus Schwaab, architect. The original drawing is over eight feet long and housed at Yale University Library.
A permanent National Armory had been conceived during the Spring of 1862, and Burton, as superintendent of armories, had been assigned the task of creating a physical entity out of the idea. Originally planned for Atlanta, the site was moved to Macon after real estate prices seemed criminal in Atlanta compared to an offer of free land in Macon. Eventually encompassing nearly forty-seven acres, the land donated by the city for establishing a permanent armory was in the southwestern portion of the city. Ground was broken in October 1862, and architectural plans were made by Augustus Schwaab, a Macon civil engineer. In January 1863, the first cornerstone was laid. The original plans called for a factory that could produce 250 rifles of the Enfield pattern per day. According to the plans, this would require extensive machinery, including two 100-horse-power stationary steam engines with six boiler just to drive the machinery in the main building.
Extensive shops and space were required as well. Accordingly, 9 million bricks were needed as well as hiring a massive labor force of carpenters, stone masons, brickmasons, and nearly 150 slave laborers. The main building was to be two stories tall, span over 625 feet by 40 feet wide, contain two flank towers of three stories each, have a central bell tower four stories high, and have four perpendicular wings two stories high with dimensions of 162 feet by 40 feet each. In addition to these structures, a large smith shop and barrel rolling department was to be located in a building in the rear of the main building, which was nearly 700 feet in length by 40 feet wide. The main chimney was to be ten feet in diameter and tower to a height of 150 feet. Also included was a proof house, two store houses, a coal shed, a basement with a rudimentary plumbing system, and a complement of living quarters for various workmen. An early estimate of its cost was placed at $780,000. The armory was to have more than 177,000 square feet of floor space for manufacturing. This armory was to be an impressive factory by international standards and by far the best and most extensive armory in the Confederate States. By April 1865, the Confederate government had expended a total of about $2.1 million at the armory in Macon over the course of three years, including $1.2 million on buildings, $530,000 on small-arms machinery, and $314,000 on manufacturing gun stocks and revolvers.
Photo of the Macon Armory taken June 1865.
Courtesy of Middle Georgia Archives, Washington Memorial Library, Macon, Georgia
A coping stone from the C.S. Armory, Macon. The numbers "1863" are visible. This is one of the few pieces of the 1280 cubic feet of fine, dressed granite delivered by Wood, Meador & Co. of Stone Mountain, Georgia for use in the Armory's buildings. Other building materials ordered from various southern suppliers included 5000 barrels of lime, nine million bricks, 3/4 million board feet of lumber, 40,000 pounds of cast iron columns and ventilators, and numerous doors, sashes, windows, and roofing slate.
Map of the southwestern part of the city of Macon, Georgia, showing the location of the C.S. Armory buildings. Drawn by Augustus Schwaab, C.E., 1863.
From James H. Burton Papers, Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University Library
Map of Macon from 1878 showing the location of the temporary works of the Macon Armory. The pentagular block, known as land lot 81, was leased by the Confederate government from the city of Macon. The Pistol Department of the C.S. Armory was located approximately where the "Bibb Co. Academy" is located on this map. The former Spiller & Burr machinery was moved to this location in January 1864 and remained there for close to a year. The city of Macon still owned land lot 81 in 1997.
© Copyright 1998 Matthew W. Norman. All rights reserved.