|St. Paul's Church
The scene of an important battle of the American
Revolution, St. Paul's Church has served the people
of Augusta and the surrounding area since 1750.
St. Paul's Church
The grounds of St. Paul's
Church are among the most
historic in the South. Two forts
St. Paul's Church
The present structure dates
from 1919, but churches have
stood on the site since 1750.
One was used as a hospital
in the American Revolution.
St. Paul's Church & Churchyard - Augusta, Georgia
Beating Swords into Plowshares
|Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Update: November 13, 2012
Fort Augusta Monument
A Celtic cross on the St.
Paul's grounds memorializes
Fort Augusta, built on the site
in 1735 by General James
Colonel William Few, Jr.
Buried on the grounds, the
colonel was a hero of the
American Revolution and a
signer of the United States
St. Paul's Church is a beautiful and historic
Episcopal church located in downtown
Founded in 1750, it stands on the site of the
colonial era Fort Augusta and the grounds
were the scene of incredible violence during
the 1781 Siege of Augusta, a battle of the
When the first services were held, the site of
the future church was still occupied by Fort
Augusta. Built under the direction of General
James Oglethorpe in 1735-1739, the fort
protected the trader's community and
fledgling frontier town of Augusta.
A Celtic cross in the rear of today's sanctuary
marks the site. Please click here to learn
more about Fort Augusta.
Lay Readers held the original services at the
fort itself in 1749, with the soldiers of the
garrison in attendance. These meetings
gave way to plans to build a permanent
structure. Built just outside the western
curtain wall (the wall between two bastions),
the church was named St. Paul's after
London's famed St. Paul's Cathedral.
The Trustees of Georgia, who governed the
colony during its early days as an English
colony, were petitioned to provide a
clergyman for the new church in 1750. Rev.
Jonathan Copp was ordained in December
of 1750 and assigned to St. Paul's. By the
time he arrived in 1751, there were 100 or so
people in the congregation.
Although construction had started on a
parsonage, Copp arrived to find that it was
not yet completed. A native of Connecticut
who had been educated at Yale, he also was
quick to discover that Augusta was not exactly
his kind of town.
Creek and Cherokee chiefs and warriors
roamed the street, as the community's main
industry then was Indian trading. Rev. Copp
seems to have been possessed of an abject
fear of these "merciless savages" as he
Despite his misgivings and the poverty in
which he lived, Copp remained in Augusta
until 1756 when he moved to St. John's
Parish in South Carolina.
The Church of England, of which the church
originally was part, was organized in Georgia
in 1758. Of the eight original parishes formed
in the colony, St. Paul's incorporated Augusta
and the surrounding area.
Three years later Rev. William Duncanson
was rejected as clergyman in Augusta and
Savannah because of his rowdy ways that
included drinking, swearing and brawling. St.
Paul's, meanwhile, provided a refuge from
violence for others.
Refugees collected there due to the French
and Indian War. While the structure provided
a place of safety for them, the damage they
inflicted on the facility was so severe that a
new church was soon built.
The ending of the war and negotiation of
subsequent treaties with the Indians led to
the evacuation of Fort Augusta in 1767.
While the people of Augusta saw a chance
for lasting peace following the end of the
French and Indian War, it was not to be. The
growth of tension between the American
colonies and the mother country erupted into
violence in 1775 at the Battles of Lexington
and Concord in Massachusetts.
Services at St. Paul's soon were suspended
due to the war and in 1779 the American
Patriots confiscated the church. Its lands
were divided and the church itself converted
into a hospital. Loyalist troops under Thomas
Brown retook Augusta for Great Britain in
1780 and services resumed.
Historic Sites of Augusta, Georgia
Once again, however, war interfered. An
unsuccessful attack on Augusta by Patriot
forces led Lt. Col. Brown to take over the St.
Paul's Churchyard for use in building Fort
American forces led by Col. "Lighthouse
Harry" Lee laid siege to Fort Cornwallis in
1781, eventually capturing it through the use
of an innovative tower. The British occupation
of Augusta ended forever. Please click here
to learn more about the Siege of Augusta.
The old Church of England in America
became the Episcopal Church after the end
of the Revolutionary War. St. Paul's grew and
thrived during the decades that followed. The
Civil War came in 1861, but Augusta never
was attacked by Federal troops.
The most noteworthy event to take place at
St. Paul's Church during the civil war was the
funeral of General Leonidas Polk. Bishop of
Louisiana and an important Confederate
general, he was killed in the fighting at Pine
Mountain near Atlanta on June 14, 1864. His
services were held at St. Paul's on June 29,
1864. He was buried in the rear of the church
near the chancel window.
The famed "Fighting Bishop" of the South
remained at rest at St. Paul's until 1945 when
it was exhumed for reburial at Christ Church
Cathedral in New Orleans.
A hospital was established at St. Paul's in
the months after the service to care for the
wounded of the Battles for Atlanta.
St. Paul's remained an important part of the
Christian community Augusta after the war. It
also was a landmark of growing importance.
The Celtic cross marking the site of Fort
Augusta was placed on the grounds in 1901.
The sanctuary itself, however, was destroyed
by the great Augusta fire on March 22, 1916.
The present sanctuary, which was designed
to closely resemble the one destroyed by fire,
was completed in 1918 and formally
consecrated in 1919. It continues to serve the
Episcopalians of Augusta to this day.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church is located at 605
Reynolds Street in Augusta, Georgia. Steps
from the Augusta Riverwalk lead to the rear of
the churchyard.. The grounds, which include
a monument to Col. William Few, a signer of
the U.S. Constitution, are open daily.
For more info: www.saintpauls.org.