Sunday, November 28, 2010

Another Fascinating Discovery

Recently, a site relating to the War Between the States was discovered in Georgia. This time, it was a Confederate prison used for Union POW's. The prison was occupied for a short time before closing in 1864, when prisoners were relocated to South Carolina to avoid Sherman's "March to the Sea."

Specifically, the camp, which was referred to as "Camp Lawton" because it was near Lawton, Georgia, replaced Andersonville in the fall of 1864. The camp was just as foul, and was only used for six weeks. During that time, approximately 725 to 1,330 men perished. The number is unknown because the deceased were tossed into a mass grave, which the Union soldiers discovered in December 1864. Only a board beside a freshly-dug plot, stating "650 buried here," marked their remains. Enraged, Union troops burned the prison to the ground, as well as a hotel and depot in nearby Millen. No photo exists of the camp, but a Union mapmaker named Private Robert Knox Sneden painted watercolor pictures and kept a journal detailing life in Lawton while he was imprisoned there.

The site was lost for nearly 150 years, but was discovered by Georgia Southern University students who were exploring a state park and federal fish hatchery in Lawton. They found prisoners' personal artifacts such as silverware and coins, as well as the exact location of the prison's stockade. Archeologists have proclaimed that the find is "one of the most significant Civil war discoveries in decades."

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