ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Camp Lawton Civil War Prison, Georgia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Camp Lawton Civil War Prison, Georgia
Site of Camp Lawton
Preserved largely at Magnolia Springs State Park,
Camp Lawton was a major Civil War prison burned
during Sherman's March to the Sea.
Camp Lawton
The "camp" was a 42-acre
prison stockade built by the
Confederates near Millen,
Site of Camp Lawton
This spring-fed creek flowed
through the prison, providing
drinking water and a means
of removing sewage.
Confederate Fort
Often called Fort Lawton, the
well-preserved Confederate
fort served both to defend
against attack and as a
warning to the prisoners.
Camp Lawton Civil War Prison Site - Millen, Georgia
Confederate Prison at Millen, GA
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
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Archaeology at Work
Recent excavations at Camp
Lawton by archaeologists
from Georgia Southern
University have revealed
much about the construction
of and life in the prison.
View of Prison Site
The Confederate fort stands
on a hill overlooking the
original prison site and offers
a panoramic view.
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In operation for only three months, Camp
Lawton was a major Civil War prison built by
Confederates in 1864 near Millen, Georgia.
The site is preserved today at Magnolia
Springs State Park in Millen, about one hour
south of Augusta.

By the summer of 1864, the Confederate
prisoner of war camp at Andersonville was
hopelessly overcrowded. The death rate was
alarming and Southern officers scrambled to
do something to alleviate the situation. The
Union had put a halt to prisoner exchanges
and the Confederacy found itself dealing with
ever increasing numbers of prisoners of war.

General John H. Winder, who oversaw prison
camps in the South, ordered the construction
of a new stockade on a farm near Millen,
Georgia. Owned by Mrs. Caroline Elizabeth
Jones, the property held the advantages of
being near a railroad that could be used to
move large numbers of prisoners. It also had
a good water supply thanks to a large spring
adjacent to the stockade site.

The prison was built by enslaved laborers
starting in the late summer of 1864. Working
under the supervision of military officers, the
slaves built a stockade of locally-harvested
pine logs that enclosed an area of 42-acres.
General Winder described it as the "largest
prison in the world," and he was probably

The walls stood 15-feet high and sentry
boxes or "pigeon roosts" were placed atop
the wall at regular intervals around the entire

The stream flowing from the springs passed
through the enclosure to provide water for
drinking and washing. It also removed waste
from the latrines as it flowed out of the prison.

Inside the stockade at a distance of 30-feet
from the walls, saplings were used to mark a
"dead line." Any prisoner approaching the
walls beyond this point could expect to be

On the high ground surrounding the prison,
the Confederates built strong earthwork forts,
a camp for the troops assigned to guard the
prison and other needed facilities.

The forts were designed not only to protect
the prison from attack, but also to make sure
the prisoners did not try to riot and break free.
The muzzles of cannon frowned down into
the stockade from behind the earthen walls.

Most of the prisoners of war sent to Camp
Lawton in the fall of 1864 came from the
overcrowded Camp Sumter at Andersonville.
Brought in by rail to nearby Millen, they were
marched the remaining 5 miles to the prison.

Assigned to guard the prisoners were the
1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Georgia Reserves, the
55th Georgia and the Florida Light Artillery.
The reserves and infantrymen manned the
"pigeon roosts" and other guard posts while
the Florida artillerymen served the cannon
that overlooked the stockade.

The prisoners confined at Camp Lawton
lived a pretty miserable existence. Barracks
were not provided for them so they built their
own shelters or "shebangs" out of brush left
behind from the stockade construction. More
than a few also burrowed into the earth.
Archaeological work at the site has been
carried out by Georgia Southern University.
Working during the summers of 2010 and
2011, the archaeologists have found buried
parts of the stockade and other structures, as
well as a wealth of artifacts left behind by the
prisoners themselves.
Please click here to
learn more about the archaeological work.

By November of 1864, more than 10,000
POW's had been confined at Camp Lawton.
Of this number, 725 died and were buried in
two adjacent cemeteries. Their bodies were
later removed to Beaufort National Cemetery.

Some of the prisoners left in an exchange of
sick or wounded POW's at Savannah worked
out by the two armies. The rest were quickly
evacuated when news arrived that General
William Tecumseh Sherman was advancing
through Georgia on his March to the Sea. The
last prisoners left on November 22, 1864.

Union cavalry forces reached Camp Lawton
four days later and, after walking through the
sobering and adjacent cemeteries, applied
the torch to both the stockade and adjacent

The site is now preserved at Magnolia
Springs State Park and the adjacent Bo Ginn
National Fish Hatchery. An interpretive kiosk,
signs and the earthwork remains of the forts
that guarded the prison help visitors learn
more about its construction and history.

Magnolia Springs State Park is open daily
from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is located 5 miles
north of Millen on U.S. 25.
Please click here to
learn more.

These sites also provide much more on
Camp Lawton and the archaeological work
taking place there:

Georgia Southern University - Camp Lawton

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Camp Lawton