ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Camp Recovery Monument, Georgia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Camp Recovery Monument, Georgia
Camp Recovery Monument
Camp Recovery was a hospital camp established by
surgeons from nearby Fort Scott in 1820. The men
brought here were suffering from malaria.
Camp Recovery in Georgia
This view of Camp Recovery
shows the monument at right
with the campsite ridge in the
Camp Recovery Monument - Decatur County, Georgia
U.S. Army Hospital & Cemetery
Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: July 7, 2012
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Military Sites in Southwest Georgia
U.S. Monument
The monument was placed in
the early 1880s to mark the
burial place of the soldiers
who died at Camp Recovery
in 1820.
Camp Recovery Site
The monument is located in
the area that graves were
identified. The camp itself
was probably just up the
slope in the area seen here.
Camp Recovery Marker
This marker is on Booster
Club Road near the arched
entrance to the site of Camp
Camp Recovery was a temporary hospital
camp established by U.S. Army surgeons
during a malaria outbreak at nearby Fort
Scott. The site of the camp is in Decatur
County near the crossroads community of
Recovery, Georgia.

Although it stood on a high bluff overlooking
the Flint River, Fort Scott was surrounded by
swamps that swarmed with clouds of
mosquitoes. As a result, malaria had always
been a problem at the fort. From the time of
the fort's construction in 1816-1817, soldiers
there had occasionally fallen ill from the
devastating fever and several had died.

Nothing, however, had prepared the fort's
surgeons and soldiers for what came in
1820. For some reason, malaria surged that
year at the forts and military camps along the
border of Spanish Florida. Of all the various
installations, however, Fort Scott was the
hardest hit.

Post returns and other military records
indicate that at one point that year, 769 of the
780 officers and men at the fort were sick
with fever. Thirty-two died in a single three
month period.

Dr. Thomas Lawson was then posted to Fort
Scott as the surgeon of the 7th U.S. Infantry.
He would later become the second Surgeon
General of the United States Army and was
considered one of the top medical men of his

As he struggled to deal with the devastating
outbreak at Fort Scott, it occurred to Lawson
that he might improve the condition of some
of the men by moving them to a healthier
location. Like most doctors of his day, the
surgeon believed that malaria was caused
by exposure to bad air from swampy places.

Accordingly, in September of 1820 he had
one of the Assistant Surgeons move a group
of men to the site now known as Camp

Accordingly on the 18th, such as were
capable of enduring the unavoidable fatigue,
and whose complaints were likely to be
benefitted by a change of air, in number
about 70, were removed under the charge of
one of the Assistant Surgeons to a high pine
ridge to the southeast of, and three miles
distant from this place and the river....

As Lawson wrote in his report of January 1,
1821, however, things did not go well at the
new camp:

...But scarcely were the tents pitched before a
heavy rain came on, which, continuing five or
six days, occasioned the immediate
dissolution of several, and produced
irreparable injury to all the sick. Many of
those affected with intermitting fever, were
also attacked with dysentery or diarrhoea,
and vice versa. Nay, the diseases became
blended the one with the other.

Once the weather moderated, the situation at
the "little colony," as Lawson termed it, began
to improve. The weather turned mild and the
surviving men showed signs of getting better.

Everything changed, however, on October 22,
1820, when a sudden cold snap produced
disastrous results:

...This was the most fatal period. Every
convalescent relapsed into his old, or
contracted some new disease; and this state
of things continued, with but little melioration,
until the 23d November, when the
establishment was broken up, and the
surviving sick brought back....

Camp Recovery had been occupied for only
two months, but the suffering of the men
there produced a lasting impact on the area.
The story of the poor soldiers and their dying
days at the camp is well known by local
So far as is known, Camp Recovery was
never occupied again after those deadly
months in 1820. Surgeon Lawon's account
leaves no doubt that a number of men died
there, but how many of the 70 patients lost
their lives at the camp is impossible to
determine. The clerks at Fort Scott did not
produce a separate list of deaths at Camp
Recovery but instead included them in their
primary tabulation.

It is safe to say that perhaps 10 to 20 of the
70 men hospitalized at the camp lost their
lives there.

The memory of these unfortunate men
remained strong in the community, causing
occasional discussions about their
unmarked and neglected graves. In 1882,
U.S. Rep. H.G. Turner forwarded to the
Secretary of War a letter from Maston O'Neal
of Decatur County. The letter got results.

Lieutenant J.D. Hoskins of the U.S. Army was
sent to investigate and reported that he found
the graves at Camp Recovery to be both in
and out of a pine forest. No markers had
survived, but depressions could be seen in
the ground where soldiers had been buried.

On October 13, 1882, the Secretary of War
authorized the placement of permanent
monuments on the sites of Camp Recovery,
Fort Scott and Fort Hughes. Made by setting
32-pounder cannon brought from Fort Clinch
in Florida upright into blocks of granite from
Stone Mountain, the three monuments were
erected in 1883.

Each was inscribed with suitable words, the
inscription of the one at Camp Recovery
reading as follows:

Erected on the site of Camp Recovery near
which are buried officers and soldiers of the
United States Army who died during the
Indian Wars in the Flint and Chattahoochee
river country, 1817-1821.

The monument remains in remarkably good
condition today and the area surrounding it
have been beautifully preserved by the private
owners of the land. A rectangular fence
encloses the traditional burial ground and an
arched gateway on Booster Club Road
opens into a fenced walkway leading to the

Camp Recovery is located on Booster Club
Road between its intersections with
Recovery Road and Hutchinson Ferry Road
in Decatur County, Georgia.