Frequently Asked Questions about the Camp Lawton Archaeological Site at Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery
A Union Infantry uniform button. Photo by Amanda L. Morrow, Georgia Southern University.
|A small bronze star, possibly a “parole star,” which would have been worn on the cap of a prisoner with special privileges. Photo by Amanda L. Morrow, Georgia Southern University.|
Q: How was the site discovered?
A: In 2009, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources contacted Georgia Southern University about conducting an archaeological survey at Camp Lawton to determine the stockade boundaries. Dr. Sue Moore, grad student Kevin Chapman and others from Georgia Southern designed a survey plan to locate the stockade.
Q: What can the public see at the site?
A: The newly discovered site is closed to the public at this time due to its fragile nature. However, Magnolia Springs State Park contains earthworks dating to the Civil War as well as interpretive signs detailing the history of Camp Lawton.
Q: Who do the artifacts belong to?
A: The artifacts are the property of the American people, held in trust by the U.S. government. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as the federal land manager of Bo Ginn NFH, is responsible for their care on behalf of the American people.
Q: Will the public be allowed to view the artifacts that have been found?
A: The public will be able to see some of the recovered artifacts. A plan for displaying them is in the works.
Q: Is the site being protected?
A: The Camp Lawton site is protected by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, and the American Battlefield Protection Act of 1996. Anyone who damages the site is subject to criminal prosecution. A security fence and other security measures have been put in place.
Q: Can I tour the site or volunteer to help with the archaeological investigation?
A: Not at this time. The FWS welcomes volunteers, and there may be different types of volunteer opportunities in the future.
Q: I am a descendent of a Civil War veteran who was at Camp Lawton. I would like to share information about him for your research into the site. Who should I contact?
A: You can contact Dr. Susan Moore, an archaeologist at Georgia Southern University; Richard S. Kanaski, the Regional Archaeologist for the FWS’s Southeast Region; or Dr. David Crass, the State Archaeologist for Georgia DNR.
Q: How many men died at Camp Lawton? Will their burial sites be disturbed?
A: The exact number of prisoners who died at Camp Lawton is not known. Most accounts number the dead at around 750, but some sources list the total dead closer to1,250. The dead were buried in trenches near the prison, but were moved after the war, first to the short-lived Lawton National Cemetery and later to Beaufort National Cemetery. There has been no archaeology in areas believed to contain burials and none is planned.