- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007



Unlike the notorious Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, the stockade at Camp Lawton in East Georgia is little more than a footnote to history.

Now, at Magnolia Springs State Park between Augusta and Savannah, archaeologists have found what may be traces of the prison built in 1864 to replace the one at Andersonville.

At Andersonville, in Southwest Georgia, almost 13,000 Union prisoners died in a disease-ridden, overcrowded prison. It has become a symbol of the horrors of the Civil War and is home to the National Prisoner of War Museum.

The location of the 42-acre Camp Lawton has never been a secret. But few of the 150,000 people who visit the state park each year realize that in the waning days of the Civil War, it was briefly the world’s largest prison camp — twice the size of Andersonville.

“I’ve always been interested in the Civil War, but when I came to the park in 1999, I had never heard of Camp Lawton,” Magnolia Springs manager Bill Giles said. “I suspect that 90 percent of the people who come here haven’t either.”

According to a few historical markers at the park, in the autumn of 1864, 10,000 Union soldiers were imprisoned here. At least 685 and maybe as many as 1,300 died within a few months.

After the war, the camp was scavenged for wood, bricks and other material. As land was farmed, timbered and later “improved” for the state park, visible traces of the camp disappeared.

Georgia Department of Transportation archaeologists using radar have located two subterranean features that may pinpoint the location of the stockade and ultimately help map the camp’s layout. A small excavation in a grassy field next to the parking lot also exposed what appear to be traces of the pointed wooden pikes that formed a defensive barrier around the camp’s gun emplacements.

Mr. Giles has spent the past several years compiling the first detailed history of Camp Lawton, which was one of seven Confederate prisons in Georgia.

The camp, designed to hold 40,000 prisoners, was built in September 1864 with prison and slave labor. By November 1864, the advance of Union troops prompted Confederate officials to move the prisoners again.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide