CWT Presents Theodore P. Savas - The Lifeblood of the Confederate War Machine: George Washington Rains, the Augusta Powder Works, and the Failures of the Union Hi

Added to Calendar: 05/12/21


Brigadier General
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Chickamauga 2018
Mar 15, 2013
Wednesday, May 12, 2021, at 8:30pm EDT
CivilWarTalk Presents:
Theodore P. Savas
A Free Live Video Presentation
The Lifeblood of the Confederate War Machine:
George Washington Rains, the Augusta Powder Works,

and the Failures of the Union High Command

George Washington Rains is the most important personality of the Civil War you've probably never heard of. Without him, there would have been no long and bloody war, no Vicksburg or Gettysburg, and Robert E. Lee would be but a footnote in history. Abraham Lincoln would have completed his second term (if there was one), and U. S. Grant would have never reached the White House. Rains organized, built, and operated the only major gunpowder factory in the Confederacy--a two-mile complex that enabled the South to fight for four long years. Its internal daily records, coupled with Rains' private writings, reveal stunning facts unknown to nearly every historian who has written on the war. From this day forth, you will never look at Union strategy and command decisions the same way.

Theodore P. Savas graduated from The University of Iowa College of Law in 1986 (With Distinction), practiced law in Silicon Valley for many years, and taught business and history classes at the college level for about 20 years. He has also been working in the publishing industry since 1990, and together with the late Russel H. Beatie founded Savas Beatie in January 2004. Savas is the author or editor of fourteen books (published in seven languages), including A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution, Hunt and Kill: U-505 and the U-Boat War in the Atlantic, and Never for Want of Powder: The Confederate Powder Works in Augusta, Georgia. His hobbies include scuba diving, smoking good cigars, drinking quality gin, and playing bass and keyboards in the hard rock band Arminius. [AR - MIN - EE - US]. He is married to the lovely Zoe.

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Last edited:


Brigadier General
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Chickamauga 2018
Mar 15, 2013
If you missed Ted's talk on George Washington Rains and the Augusta Powder Works, it was a fantastic presentation on a fascinating topic! We had a big crowd with over 80 people in attendance. Ted was engaging and entertaining and had plenty of good slides that coincided with his talk. I enjoyed it very much!

As promised, here is the content from the chat log:

8:55 PM @NH Civil War Gal - What would have happened to the CSA IF Rains hadn't started the Augusta Powder Mills or any powder mills? Would it have shortened the war?

9:03 PM @bdtex - Were there any major accidents at the Augusta Powder Works during the war like at Richmond and the Allegheny Arsenal?

9:06 PM @A. Roy - Here's a question I'd be interested in hearing the answer to: George Washington Rains seems rightly to be a very important character strategically for the Confederacy. So how is it that someone like this gets ignored for so long (and so Ted Savas has to step in and tell his story)?

9:12 PM Ken Rutherford - First - I really like the questions above so interested in hearing Ted’s response. Second, It seems strange that CSA President Davis, a former - and innovative - U.S. Secretary of War would be so unprepared in terms of lacking CSA powder mills. In your opinion, what was the CSA plan at the eve of he war for gunpowder production? [That is if there was a plan]. THANK YOU for great fascinating presentation.

9:12 PM @A. Roy - That's really kind of a question about how history gets told. How does it get decided who is important and thus gets written about?

9:16 PM @NH Civil War Gal - How long did it take Rains to have all these stone/brick buildings built? That in itself was a huge project! Who were the workers? Trained white people? Enslaved people? A mix of both?

9:18 PM @Zella - Earlier, it was mentioned that he supplied everything but the naval powder. Where did that come from?

9:19 PM Remy C. - I’m just a few miles from Hagley Mills in Wilmington DE (DuPont Powder Works). It’s an amazing living history museum built exactly as you’ve describe the Augusta mill 1) Have you been to Hagley? 2) Do you now if Rains ever visited Hagley?

9:21 PM David C. - Ted, that's a great story about finding the schematic drawings stuffed into a third-floor room at the museum.

9:21 PM @A. Roy - You mentioned that the powder works functioned on a Just-In-Time (JIT) basis. Can you say more about how that worked? Also, JIT is thought of as a modern (maybe Japanese) manufacturing concept. How did Rains come up with this way back then?

9:25 PM Richard S. - Was he a micro manager of the powder works? And if he wasn't, to whom did he delegate?

9:26 PM David C. - Was there a different command structure for powder works in the Trans-Mississippi Department (particularly Texas)? I ask this because an Iowa Confederate (trained as a civilian druggist who had served in an Arkansas Cavalry unit) appealed to Jefferson Davis (and at lest one commanding general) to be transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Dept. to work manufacturing and/or supplying powder. Besides this, a Confederate veteran recorded his memories of working in a powder factory in Texas during the war.

9:28 PM @lelliott19 - Is that a quote? Did Sherman actually say "Ahhh to hell with it" ?

9:29 PM @Zella - LOL Maybe it was "ahh war is hell, so the hell with it." :wink:

09:32 PM @edfranksphd - Thank you, Ted. Gotta scoot. Over and out.

9:32 PM Cindy C. - Thank you, Ted! WONDERFUL!

9:34 PM @lelliott19 - How much powder came in to the Confederacy through the blockade? Would that have been enough to make any difference in your estimate for survival time?

09:34 PM @edfranksphd - BRAVO! Yes. Lazy, lazy, lazy to the core. : ) publish or perish, but most say fuggetabout the research!

9:35 PM @lelliott19 - The 2 mile series of buildings - were they basically all in the exact order of processing - like an assembly line?

9:35 PM @ucvrelics - Great Presentation. Thanks

9:35 PM Jeff Hunt - Great Talk Ted.

9:36 PM Mark R - did the federals know about the powder works?

9:37 PM Richard S. - Did Raines have a military rank? Was he captured as a prisoner of war? And if not, why was he ignored considering what he did.

9:37 PM Kristin D. - Fascinating to consider the possible directions the war would have gone, or not, if Rains hadn't been successful or if the powder works would have been destroyed.

09:38 PM @NFB22 - Since the works were taken apart after Atlanta fell, how much powder was actually produced afterwards and they got put back together and started producing again? That said, if Sherman would have moved against Augusta, how long does the Confederacy last? How much powder did they have stockpiled late 64, early 65?

9:39 PM Tim H. - The Marshall Texas area did house many departments for the Trans Mississippi Army including post office, quartermaster, ordnance, medical bureau etc but am not sure if it had a specific gunpowder manufacturing operation. Ted do you know as to whether that was present at the Marshall Texas area?

9:42 PM Ken Rutherford - Thank you!

9:46 PM @NFB22 - After the war, did the US gov't take note that the majority of powder mills and munitions plants were in the north and consider that a weakness and take that into account moving forward in case of foreign aggression and the capture of a specific part of the country?

9:49 PM Larry DeM. - How did Augusta ship its powder?

9:49 PM Richard S. - This must have been an enormous financial cost initially and to maintain: salaries, raw materials, delivery costs, etc.? Are there invoice records to calculate the daily operating costs?

9:50 PM Daniel N. - How long did powder production stop during the March to the Sea from Rains breaking down the process, railroading it out, holding it away from Augusta, & then sending it back to set up & restart?

9:58 PM @Diane123 - Thanks so much for a great presentation. My favorite part of history is learning that which was previously unknown but adds such depth and understanding to what is known. Your research on Rains definitely fills that bill!

9:59 PM Mike L. - Great program. Thanks

10:00 PM @NH Civil War Gal - Purchase all your Civil War books from Savas Beatie at their website. Use You can catch up on past CWT Presents presentations too. Bert Dunkerly and Doug Crenshaw's book Embattled Capital: A Guide to Richmond During the Civil War is still available and Richard R. Shaus' book is also highly recommended: Lee is Trapped and Must Be Taken: Eleven Fateful Days After Gettysburg, July 4-14, 1863.

10:01 PM Kathleen S. - Thanks for a very interesting presentation.

10:02 PM @NH Civil War Gal - If you'd like to keep up with all the latest news from Savas Beatie, subscribe to the newsletter using the link OR go to and click the newsletter tab at the top of the page and subscribe.

10:06 PM Mark R. - I find it funny Sherman destroys Griswoldville & avoids Augusta….

10:08 PM Kristin D. - Thank you so much, how very interesting and informative!

10:08 PM David C. - Thank you @CivilWarTalk for hosting Theodore Savas's fascinating presentation.

10:10 PM Mark R. - thanks

10:11 PM @NFB22 - You have a rundown of future presenters?

10:12 PM Brian D. - Thank you Mr. Savas, great presentation!

10:19 PM Joel M. - Thanks! Another book to add to my to-read list. Good night all

NH Civil War Gal

Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Feb 5, 2017
My sister attended and LOVED your passion for the subject! Neither of us knew that there had to be different types of gunpowder. I thought gunpowder was gunpowder and it was all the same. We both learned A LOT through your presentation. Now I have to get the book to learn more!