The now-extinct town of Hamburg was founded in 1821 by Augusta, Georgia, businessman Henry Shultz. Shultz moved across the Savannah River to Aiken County to establish a trading post in direct competition with Augusta. The new town, which Shultz named for his birthplace of Hamburg, Germany, initially thrived as cotton was shipped from Hamburg to the port cities of Charleston and Savannah. However, the South Carolina Railroad built a rail bridge connecting Hamburg to Augusta in 1853, rendering the trading town and its shipping industry irrelevant. Concrete pilings from this rail bridge, seen below, remain visible in the river.
Following the addition of the Hamburg-to-Augusta rail bridge, Hamburg fell into a state of destitution. By the onset of the Civil War, the hamlet was deserted. After the war freed African-Americans settled in the lost town and established a municipal government and its own militia – Company A, Ninth Regiment National Guard of the State of South Carolina – armed by the state under Governor Scott. Friction between the black militia and nearby white Democrats led to what is known as the Hamburg Massacre in 1876.
The militia was parading on an unused road in celebration of July the 4th when two white men complained about the group blocking the public road. The militia’s captain, Doc Adams, was subsequently arrested for improper use of a public road. Later, Adams was intimidated by a group of armed white men on his way to court on July 8, 1876; he sought safety in the militia’s armory and was soon joined by forty of his men. The white men who had taken to the street during Adams’ procession to court surrounded the armory and demanded the militia surrender its state-issued arms. When the group refused, gunfire erupted, and seven people ultimately were killed – one white and six black. McKie Meriwether, the sole white casualty in the incident, was killed early in the shootout. Two of the black militia subsequently were shot and killed. Four of the black victims were executed the following day by their white captors, who seized 25 of the militia as they were attempting to flee the bloody scene (some accounts say five men were captured band executed).
The event, now called the Hamburg Massacre, led to the town’s further demise, though the Rutherford and Company Brickyard was established here in 1895. A series of floods in the early twentieth century marked the true end of the village, which now is part of North Augusta. The railroad bridge was dismantled in 1908 and replaced with the Sixth Street Bridge in 1912, now operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad. Its pilings are one of the last remaining vestiges of Hamburg.