Camp Lawton artifact news

Submitted by Sammy Smith (sammy@thesga.org)

In mid-August 2011, Georgia Southern University released a story on artifacts from Camp Lawton, a Confederate prisoner of war camp near Millen. This story is drawn from that information. For more artifact photographs, go to Camp Lawton on the web here. SGA Board Member Matthew Newberry kindly forwarded this information to the SGA website.

Georgia Southern University’s archaeology team continues to unearth unique, priceless artifacts from the site of the largest prison camp of the Civil War.

Camp Lawton Colby token 2011

This 1863 token found at Camp Lawton was issued by C.A. Colby & Co. Wholesale Groceries and Bakery of Niles, Michigan, and had a one-cent value. Artifact photography by Amanda L. Morrow, Georgia Southern University.

Georgia Southern University has announced that the team has discovered more personal belongings of Union soldiers held captive in Camp Lawton, a Confederate prisoner of war camp located just outside of Millen in what is now Magnolia Springs State Park. Camp Lawton was constructed in 1864 by the Confederate Army to replace Georgia’s notorious Andersonville prison. Camp Lawton housed more than 10,000 Union prisoners and hundreds of Confederate soldiers. But, the camp was only occupied for six weeks before evacuations began in the middle of the night on November 26, 1864, as the Union army approached during Sherman’s March to the Sea. The latest artifacts that have been found include a ring, a corps badge, keys to furniture and doors, suspender buckles and a pocket knife.

“The amount of artifacts and the variety of artifacts we are finding at this site is stunning,” said Georgia Southern archaeology professor and director of the project Dr. Sue Moore. Dr. Moore is a past President of the Society for Georgia Archaeology. “Eighteen months ago, the conventional wisdom was that anything of historical value at the site of Camp Lawton had been lost, looted or destroyed. When we originally announced our discovery of artifacts last year, we knew we had found items that would unlock many of the secrets of life in the prison camp. But, we cannot help but be amazed at what we continue to find at the site.”

The newest artifacts to be discovered will join the current Camp Lawton exhibit in the Georgia Southern Museum. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is the custodian of the artifacts, which belong to the American people. The new artifacts will go on display October 11, 2011.

Researchers found the trade token pictured here, a substitute for currency, at Camp Lawton. Do you think the soldier who carried it was from Michigan? Do you think he carried the token for its one-cent value, or as a memento? Why do you think this trade token appears in the Camp Lawton archaeological record?

Read more about Camp Lawton findings on this website here. Read about the beginnings of the archaeological investigations, including a ground-penetrating radar study, here.

Where to find it