Columbus, Cotton and Conflict Driving Tour Notes
Phenix City, Alabama Battle Sites
- The Goetchius House (405 Broadway)
This fine antebellum house was owned by Richard R. Goetchius who was partners with S. R. Hodges in a blind-and-sash making business located on the corner of St. Clair (11th Street) and Oglethorpe (1st Avenue). They turned their business into a wagon-making factory shortly after the outbreak of the war.Directions
- "The Folly" (527 1st Ave.)
This double octagon shaped house was built in 1847 and was the home of a well-known Columbus lawyer, Alfred Iverson, Sr. Iverson served as a member of the Georgia state legislature and as a state court judge. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2nd District of Georgia from 1847 to 1849. He was also a U.S. Senator from Georgia from 1855 to 1861. Iverson was one of the secession delegates to the state convention and could probably have held a cabinet post in the new Confederate government had he so desired.Directions
- The Pemberton House (11 7th St.)
This home was owned by Dr. John S. Pemberton, who served in the Confederate Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in the cavalry. The 1859 City Directory lists his business as Pemberton & Carter Druggist at 88 Broad St. It is reported that Pemberton fought in the Battle of Columbus, where he was severely wounded, thus affecting his health for the rest of his life. He continued his career as a pharmacist, creating a concoction known as French Wine of Coca, which later developed into what is now Coca-Cola.Directions
- The Joseph House (828 Broadway)
Built circa 1840, this house was owned by J. Joseph, who was one of the 46 listed grocers in town. Mr. Joseph also had interests in shipping on the Chattahoochee as the owner of steamboats such as the "Fannie Fern."Directions
- Empire Mills (Current site of the Marriott Columbus, 800 Front Ave.)
There were three grist mills in Columbus during the war. Empire Mills, City Mills, and Palace Mills all produced corn meal and flour for the Confederate Army and for the people of Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley. Empire Mills was owned and operated by George Woodruff. Of the three grist mills, two still exist as part of the hotel.Directions
- Columbus Guards Plaque (9th St. between 1st Ave. and Broadway)
The Columbus Guards first organized in 1830 to defend Columbus from Indian attack. They served in the Mexican-American War, and were one of the first companies to depart Columbus during the War Between the States. There were more officers promoted out of its ranks than any other company in the Confederate Army.Directions
- J.P. Murray Rifle Factory (Current site of the Springer Opera House, 103 10th St.)
This factory was established by one of the gunsmiths who lived in Columbus before the war. John P. Murray received several contracts from the State of Alabama to produce the 1841 pattern U.S. Rifle. His factory was destroyed in April of 1865 by Union forces.Directions
- Goetchius & Hodged Mill (124 11th St.)
On this site stood the factory of Goetchius and Hodges which manufactured wagons and wagon parts during the war.Directions
- First Presbyterian Church (1100 1st Ave.)
This church had just started construction when the war began in 1861. It was dedicated in February of 1862.Directions
- Office of the Columbus Times (Current location of the Empire Building, 19 12th St.)
On this location stood the printing offices of the Columbus Times, one of the four newspapers that were published in Columbus before and during the war. The Times was published daily and weekly. Among the other papers were the Daily Sun, the Columbus Enquirer and the Corner Stone.Directions
- The Perry House (Current location of Wells Fargo Bank, 101 13th St.)
A large boarding house called the Perry House stood at this location during the war. Before the war, it was home to Paul Semmes, who became a Confederate Brigadier General, and during the war it served as home to Major Warner who ran the Confederate Navy Yard.Directions
- Greenwood & Gray Rifle Factory (Current location of the YMCA, 24 14th St.)
At this site stood the small factory of Greenwood and Gray, which also produced weapons for the Confederate Army. At the time of manufacture, these weapons were inspected by Confederate Ordinance officers in Columbus and deemed "exceptionally well-made" weapons.Directions
- Confederate Arsenal Factory (Current location of Uptown Family Medicine, 104 14th St.)
Here stood the Confederate Arsenal and Armory, which consumed some 10,000 pounds of lead per month to make small arms and artillery ammunition. This factory was outproducing the factories in Charleston, Macon and Selma. Columbus was the site of the largest arsenal in the western theater of war.Directions
- Haiman Brothers Sword and Pistol Factory (Current location of Downtown Elementary School, 1400 1st Ave.)
Louis and Elias Haiman immigrated from Prussia in the 1840s and established a tinsmith operation in downtown Columbus. With the outbreak of war, they turned their metal-working experience into making swords, cutlasses, and sabers. They employed some 400 people and were producing 250 swords, sabers, and cutlasses per day. Large scale production of Colt Navy Revolvers also began in April of 1863. With the capture of Columbus in April of 1865, General Wilson proposed to restore Haiman his property if he would take the oath of allegiance to the federal authorities, but Haiman’s unswerving loyalty to the cause of the South would not for a moment allow him to consider such a suggestion, and with the departure of federal troops, his factory was razed to the ground.Directions
- Schley⁄Peabody⁄Warner House (1445 2nd Ave.)
This house, built circa 1840, was moved from its original location a few blocks away, one brick at a time, to this site. Captain Phillip Schley helped to organize the "Muscogee Blues" and served in the Indian War of 1836. He was elected Captain of the Columbus Guards in 1845. Just prior to the Civil War, the Peabody family purchased the house. Some years later, after moving to New York, George F. Peabody would become one of the nation’s most prominent financiers and philanthropists.Directions
- Alexander⁄McGehee⁄Nilan⁄Woodall House (1443 2nd. Ave.)
This house, built circa 1845, has been moved from its previous location to this site in 1998. The home is of solid brick construction of Doric type. The entrance is similar to some of the Charleston houses, with brick cemented steps leading to a high portico, and has a wrought-iron balustrade. The home, built about 1845 by Robert B. Alexander, was constructed over a high basement.Directions
- Rankin House (1440 2nd Ave.)
This house belonged to James Rankin, a planter and owner of the Rankin Hotel, who moved to Columbus from Ayrshire, Scotland. Work on the house was begun before the war, but was not completed until after the end of the war. The ironwork that decorates the front yard of the house used to belong to General Henry Lewis Benning, for whom Fort Benning is named.Directions
- The Blackmar⁄Ellis House (1336 3rd Ave.)
Home of the Alfred Owen Blackmar family. Alfred Owen II, a banker, was very active in civil affairs from 1846 until his death. He also helped establish the Volunteer Fire Department, was a riverboat captain, and was one of the “Home Guard” of businessmen who helped keep the economy going in Columbus during the Civil War.Directions
- The Lion House (1316 3rd Ave.)
Built circa 1845. The house was originally constructed by Dr. Thomas Hoxey, who was a physician in Columbus as early as 1833. A templelike structure, it is an Egyptian variation of Greek revival design. The most interesting exterior features of the house are the two Nubian lions, one asleep, the other awake, which guard the entrance to the house. There is a door located under the stairway of the basement which opens into a sealed wall. It is said that this wall hides an underground passage that leads toward the river.Directions
- Crawford House
This house used to belong to Martin J. Crawford who was born in Jasper County, Georgia, March 17, 1820. He was a member of Georgia state legislature from 1845 to 1847, a state court judge, and served as a U.S. Representative from the Georgia 2nd District from 1855 to 1861. He was a delegate to the Provisional Confederate Congress in 1861 and 1862. He served as a Colonel in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and his home was visited by many prominent politicians and soldiers during the war, including Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. He survived the war and served as a justice on the Georgia State Supreme Court in 1880. He died in Columbus in 1883, and is buried at Linwood Cemetery.
- Swift⁄Kyle House (303 12th St.)
This house was built in 1857 by Doctor Samuel Billings just prior to his marriage. There had been a small wooden frame house already on this lot and it was moved to the rear of the property. In 1864, Colonel George Parker Swift purchased the home for $50,000 Confederate dollars and a very large quantity of osnaburg (a heavy cotton duck material) manufactured in his cotton mill. The Swifts continued to live in the home after the war when Colonel Swift was head of Muscogee Manufacturing Company and later of the Swift Mills Operations.Directions
- First Baptist Church (212 12th St.)
First built in 1829, this is the second church to stand at this location, as laid out in the original city plans. The current sanctuary was constructed in 1859 and is still in use today by the congregation of the church.Directions
- R.E. Lee Confederate Hospital (Current site of the Columbus Ledger Enquirer Building, 17W 12th St.)
The R.E. Lee Confederate Hospital was only one of several hospitals that were established in Columbus during the war. At one point in May of 1864, there were almost 1,400 patients quartered in Columbus. Many of these were soldiers who had been wounded in battle, and soldiers who were too sick to serve.Directions
- Eagle, Palace, and Howard Mills (Current site of the Eagle and Phenix Condominiums, 1201 Front Ave.)
The Eagle Mill was first organized in 1851 by William H. Young, a native of New York. In 1860, the mill absorbed the Howard Factory and expanded its production to include supplies for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. On April 17, 1865, the Eagle Mill was destroyed by Union forces under the command of General James Wilson. Rebuilt in 1866 as the Eagle and Phenix Manufacturing Company, the Eagle and Phenix purchased the land and water rights of the old Eagle Mill and those of the Palace Merchant Mills. By 1880, the company had quadrupled its production with the construction of Mill #2 (1869) and Mill #3 (1876), and it dominated the economy of Columbus.Directions
- Lowell, Fontaine, and Alabama Cotton Warehouses (Currently the site of W.C. Bradley and other companies, 1005-1017 Front Ave.)
Between these three warehouses, there were stored over 42,000 bales of cotton. By 1864, some of the production in Columbus had switched to everyday objects such as pots, pans, axes, chains, and shovels, and some of these items were also being stored in the warehouses. By the end of the war, there was so much cotton in Columbus, it was being stored along the side of Broad St., as well as in shops all along the street. It is estimated that over 100,000 bales of cotton were destroyed by Federal troops.Directions
- Rock Island Paper Mills (not visible during tour)
Colonel John Winter established the Rock Island Paper Mill on the Alabama bank of the river just north of the city. It consumed eleven million pounds of raw materials annually, mostly the cotton waste from Columbus’ other spinning factories. In 1860, the factory produced 800,000 pounds of printing, writing, and wrapping paper and later became one of the primary sources for paper for the Confederate Army.
- Columbus or Clapp’s Factory (not visible during tour)
The Columbus Factory north of the city included woolen mills, a tannery, a shoe factory, a gristmill, and a sawmill. In 1861, it employed 110 men and women. With the outbreak of war, production tripled and it is estimated that the factory annually produced 300,000 yards of cotton cloth, 75,000 yards of woolen goods, 40,000 pounds of yarn and thread, 5,000 sides of leather, and 12,000 pairs of shoes. By the end of 1862, raw wool and hides were hard to acquire and production had to be reduced. The factory remained operational throughout the war.
- East Summerville Road Fortifications
You can clearly see what remains of the inner ring of Confederate fortifications that were built to defend the city of Columbus. As early as 1862, work was begun on a series of outer fortifications. However, in 1863, General Gilmer reported that, "The country around Columbus is of such a character that it is difficult to locate a line of defense works without giving a development too great for any garrison we can hope to place there." By 1864, Sherman’s troops were ravaging Central Georgia, and an effort was made to build defenses on the eastern side of Columbus. The western forts on the Alabama side of the river were abandoned until after December of 1864 when the Sherman threat had passed the city. There were few tall trees at the time that these fortifications were constructed, and their location allowed the defenders to see very far up Summerville Road, but still be able to look down upon the city of Columbus just across the river.
- West Summerville Road Fortifications
There was a three-gun battery defending this position, along with about thirty rifleman. The federals captured and secured this section of works, and were able to use this position to concentrate fire on the remaining works held by the Southern troops. After this fort was captured, it became the focus of Confederate artillery fire. At one point, some twenty Southern cannons were pouring deadly fire into the outer walls of this fort.
- Union assualt site
This is the valley that Union troops attacked across in all three assaults on Confederate fortifications. Casualties of the battle differ depending on the source, but some of the most widely accepted casualty numbers list between 25 to 30 Federal soldiers killed and wounded in the battle. The Confederate number is not known, but several officers and prominent citizens were killed.
- Russel County Courthouse Hill
On this site stood a fort that was thirty yards square and defended by four guns, along with a six-gun battery in support. A total of fifty-one cannons defended Columbus and the fortifications surrounding the city. In the final assault on the city, Union troops overran Confederate positions here, and both sides advanced across the bridge in total darkness. There are a few accounts of some of the buildings in Girard, as Phenix City was then known, being set on fire in order to light up the surrounding countryside and give the Southern gunners an accurate target.
- Planter’s Warehouse (Current site of Country’s Barbecue, 1329 Broadway)
Here stood the Planter’s Warehouse of Dillard, Powell, & Company. It is said to have had some 20,000 bales of cotton in storage when General Wilson destroyed it.Directions
- Colonel Randolph L. Mott House (Along the Chattahoochee RiverWalk at 14th St.)
This house was purchased by the Mott family in 1856. Mott served as the chief proprietor of the Palace Mills which manufactured corn meal and flour. Mott, although a slaveholder, was a staunch Unionist and is said to have flown the stars and stripes in his house throughout the entire war. When Wilson and his troops entered town, Colonel Mott offered the use of his home to General Wilson. Wilson had planned to use the residence of Colonel Hines Holt, but graciously accepted Mott’s offer. The next day, Wilson had to convince Mott to give up his slave, Frank. After some reluctance, Mott declared he would give Frank to General Wilson in return for sparing the Mott warehouse from destruction. Wilson suggested that Frank make up his own mind, and Frank decided to remain in Columbus. The house was later sold to the mill which used it as an office, and it was saved from destruction when purchased by TSYS.Directions
- Soldiers Hospital (Current site of parking for the Carmike building, 1301 1st Ave.)
At this site stood one of a number of hospitals that were established in Columbus during the war. In addition, several large homes were used to quarter the sick and wounded who were flooding into Columbus after the Atlanta campaign of 1864.Directions
- Sappington and Dillard Shoe Factory (Current site of Holiday House Building, Broadway between 12th and 13th St.)
At these locations were the stores of S.M. Sappington. In 1861, Sappington converted his Broad St. grocery store into a shoe shop. He produced 8,000 pairs of shoes before the Confederate Quartermaster Department took it over in late 1861.Directions
- Saul Rothschild Grocers Store (Currently an abandoned building, Broadway between 12th and 13th St.)
At this store, Saul Rothschild gave up his dry goods business and manufactured some 5,000 uniforms for the Confederacy during the first year of the war. Several other small business owners up and down Broad St. also did the same. A. H. Dewitt, a jeweler, began to manufacture swords, Manly & Hodges made almost 1,000 tents, and Barringer & Morton converted their shop into producing gun carriages for artillery pieces. Smaller shops around town also produced lampblack, wooden buttons, and oilcloths. There was a great demand in the Army for oilcloth made of “Indian rubber cloth.” One of the most successful manufacturer’s of oil cloth was Brands & Komer who perfected a method for producing 1,200 yards per week. Women sewed the oil-cloth into blankets, saddle bags, knapsacks, and capes that served as raincoats.Directions
- Old Soldiers Home (Current location of RiverCenter, 900 Broadway)
On this site stood one of the Old Soldiers Homes that were used by soldiers who had been wounded in battle, or by soldiers as a stop on their way home. The soldiers did not have to pay for their stay in these homes; their entire bill was paid by local ladies’ patriotic organizations.Directions
- The Ironclad Ram Jackson (Located inside National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus, 1002 Victory Dr.)
was constructed in the Confederate Navy yard between late 1862 and December of 1864, when it was launched. It was still undergoing final preparations for service when the city was attacked and burned in April of 1865. In addition to the Jackson, the steam gunboat CSS Chattahoochee was stationed here after her boiler explosion in May of 1863. Also, the CSS Viper, a small torpedo boat measuring 50 feet in length and six feet at the beam, was finished and launched in early 1865.Directions
The War Between the States saw drastic changes in and around the city of Columbus, Georgia.
Before the Civil War, Columbus had been a modest-sized town that was principally engaged in making corn meal, and spinning and shipping cotton. It was the third-largest city in Georgia, having a population of some 6,000 white citizens and 3,500 slaves. In 1860, a total of 955 people worked in Columbus industries, 43% of them women. The city directory of 1859-1860 lists 46 grocers, 26 dry goods merchants, 14 bars, eight cotton brokers, three slave dealers, three music stores, two gunsmiths, two book stores, 32 law firms, and 15 physicians, but only one bank.
With the outbreak of the war in 1861, the citizens and industries of Columbus mobilized for the war effort. By 1863, the population in the city had swelled to over 15,000, primarily because of the demand for workers in the factories turning out goods for the Confederate cause. By 1865, Columbus was second only to Richmond in production of war materials for the Confederacy. While almost all of the industries were destroyed by Federal troops in 1865, many were rebuilt and still exist in some form today. Other sites have been completely destroyed, and now only a memory of their existence remains.
As you take the tour, try to imagine Columbus as a city with streets that were not paved or bricked, a city without a comprehensive sewer system, and a city lit at night only by the moon, candle lanterns, and gaslight.