For nearly 150 years, its exact location was not known, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Southern University said. Georgia Southern students earlier this year began their search for evidence of the wall timbers and interior buildings.
"Archaeologists call it one of the most significant Civil War discoveries in decades," a joint statement read.
Officials would provide no details until the formal announcement Wednesday morning at Magnolia Springs State Park, five miles north of Millen in southeast Georgia. An open house for the public will follow from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Life at Lawton, described as "foul and fetid," wasn't much better than at Andersonville, with the exception of plentiful water from Magnolia Springs.
In its six weeks' existence, between 725 and 1,330 men died at the prison camp. The 42-acre stockade held about 10,000 men before it hastily closed when Union forces approached.
It’s a fascinating, if horrifying chapter in the Civil War. I managed a few construction projects in the area last year, and this part of Georgia is steeped in colonial, antebellum and Civil War history. So this find marks a real breakthrough in documenting that history and its satisfying to me, personally. Like most “Old South” Southerners, I can trace my heritage back and find numerous ancestors who fought and died in the Civil War.
Update: The History Channel site has a much deeper exploration of the Camp’s history.
Update: And Fox News site has a story on this.
Another Update, describing some of what was found at the site:
They found a corroded bronze buckle used to fasten tourniquets during amputations, a makeshift tobacco pipe with teeth marks in the stem, and a picture frame folded and kept after the daguerreotype it held was lost.
Georgia officials say the discoveries, announced Wednesday, were made by a 36-year-old graduate student at Georgia Southern University who set out to find Camp Lawton for his thesis project in archaeology.
He stunned experienced pros by not only pinpointing the site, but also unearthing rare artifacts from a prison camp known as little more than a historical footnote on the path of Gen. William T. Sherman's devasting march from Atlanta to Savannah.
"What makes Camp Lawton so unique is it's one of those little frozen moments in time, and you don't get those very often," said Dave Crass, Georgia's state archaeologist. "Most professional archaeologists who ever thought about Camp Lawton came to the implicit conclusion that, because people weren't there very long, there wouldn't be much to find."
Camp Lawton imprisoned more than 10,000 Union troops after it opened in October 1864 to replace the infamously hellish war prison at Andersonville. But it lasted barely six weeks before Sherman's army arrived in November and burned it.
The camp's brief existence made it a low priority among scholars. While known to be in or near Magnolia Springs State Park outside Millen, 50 miles south of Augusta, the camp's exact location was never verified.
I really look for History Channel, NatGeo or PBS to do a special on this in the not-to-distant future. Not only is this a truly incredible find, it also tells a story about the suffering Americans endured at the hands of their own brothers during the Civil War.
Gimme some feedback in the comments.