Camp Lawton Archaeological Site
Map of Camp Lawton in 1864 as drawn by Private Robert Knox Sneden a Union prisoner. Used by permission of Virginia Historical Society.
During the last days of the Civil War, the Confederates built a prison camp near Millen, Georgia, at a site called Camp Lawton.
Covering 42 acres, it was the largest Civil War prisoner of war camp in terms of area. The post was hastily abandoned in 1864 when threatened by Sherman’s march on Savannah. For most of the last 100-plus years the site rested relatively undisturbed, the exact location of the camp having been lost to time. Prominent archaeologists long ago dismissed the possibility of significant findings, especially of personal artifacts.
In the spring of 2010, archaeologists from Georgia Southern University discovered artifacts from Camp Lawton on the property of Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery. According to archaeologists, the find may be one of the most pristine Civil War archaeological sites found in decades.
Camp Lawton is an important part of our national heritage. The exciting archaeological find there also serves as a sobering reminder of the immense sacrifices made. An estimated 750 soldiers died from starvation, deprivation, and disease on these grounds, making this among our nation’s sacred sites.
Bo Ginn NFH accesses springs that are estimated to flow at 7-9 million gallons a day. Because of this unique and stable water source (also the reason Camp Lawton was located at the site), Bo Ginn is a valuable tool for strategic habitat conservation. The hatchery will play a critical role in propagating and providing a refuge for imperiled, threatened and endangered fishes and other aquatic species.
- Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery and the archaeological site are currently closed.
- The site and the artifacts are the property of the American people. Individuals who damage this site or trespass will be prosecuted.
- Archaeological research will continue at the site and must be undisturbed.
- Many of the Camp Lawton artifacts discovered so far on the property of Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery have been loaned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the Georgia Southern University for display, and can be seen through May 1, 2011, at Georgia Southern University Museum in Statesboro, GA. The exhibit is open to the public. Read the Georgai Southern press release, "Exhibit of Newly Discovered Civil War Artifacts Open at Georgia Southern University Museum" for more information.
- Discussions are underway for a permanent home for the artifacts in South Georgia.