Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Site of Ft. Lawton PoW Camp in Georgia Found

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on August 17, 2010

Via RCWEC Dummy Blog, archaeologists in Georgia have found the site of Camp Lawton, near the Georgia-South Carolina border:

Outside of scholars and Civil War buffs, few people have heard of the Confederacy’s Camp Lawton, which replaced the infamous and overcrowded Andersonville prison in fall 1864.

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 at a state park and federal fish hatchery for evidence of the wall timbers and interior buildings. . . .

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 was hastily closed when Union forces approached.

There are no photos of Lawton and few visual stockade details, although a Union mapmaker painted some important watercolors of the prison. He also kept a 5,000-page journal that detailed the misery at Camp Lawton, which was built to hold up to 40,000 prisoners.

“The weather has been rainy and cold at nights,” Pvt. Robert Knox Sneden, who was previously imprisoned at Andersonville, wrote in his diary on Nov. 1, 1864. “Many prisoners have died from exposure, as not more than half of us have any shelter but a blanket propped upon sticks. . . . Our rations have grown smaller in bulk too, and we have the same hunger as of old.”

Images: Exterior and interior views of the Lawton PoW compound, from the January 7, 1865 issue of Harper’s Weekly. Via SonoftheSouth.com.