National Wildlife Refuge System

Georgia’s Lost Civil War Prison Site on TV Aug 26

The discovery of a Confederate prison on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service land in Georgia unearthed this ring and many other artifacts.
Credit: Georgia Southern University

August 21, 2014 - The story of a Civil War prison discovered on land now occupied by the Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery near Millen, Georgia, will be featured in the new season of Time Team America, airing August 26 on PBS at 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional archaeologist Rick Kanaski, who works primarily on refuges, is on the multi-agency team planning long term management of the prison site.


In the spring of 2010, archaeologists from Georgia Southern University discovered artifacts from Camp Lawton. The discovery of this especially intact Civil War archaeological site unearthed Civil War buttons, coins, buckles and other artifacts that where displayed in 2012 at Georgia Southern University.

This privately minted token would have been worth about a penny.
Credit: Georgia Southern University


Confederates operated Camp Lawton for six weeks in 1864 as an overflow facility for Andersonville Prison before abruptly moving surviving Union captives from Sherman's approaching army. Conditions were grim. A camp record lists more than 10,000 Union POWs; at least 750 died of starvation, exposure or disease.


For Kanaski, the pristine look of the site adds to its historic importance. "Civil war sites are among the more threatened types of historic properties in the eastern United States," he says. "Camp Lawton is special because it’s not been picked over by relic hunters. It’s a lot more intact than anybody thought. It will help deepen our understanding of these kinds of temporary institutions that arise during military conflicts and how captured individuals deal with an abhorrent situation . . . with bad food, bad water and bad medical care."


Each Time Team America program explores a different time and region in U.S. history from the perspective of a team of archaeologists. At Camp Lawton the team will try to find a corner of the stockade wall and what stories the artifacts tell about the list of prisoners held captive there.

Archaeological sites are sometimes open for field schools or the general public to introduce visitors to archaeology and Camp Lawton.
Credit: Georgia Southern University

Last updated: August 22, 2014