Civil War stockade walls found at Camp Lawton

Timbers hidden since the end of the Civil War helped archaeologists fulfill a quest to find the original stockade walls of Confederate Camp Lawton.

The discovery was confirmed last week, as crews filming a PBS documentary were visiting the Jenkins County, Ga., site, now part of Magnolia Springs State Park.

“We found it. Standing where the corner of the Camp Lawton stockade once stood was one of the greatest moments of my archaeological career,” said Sue Moore, a professor of anthropology at Georgia Southern University, which has explored the site for several years.

Geophysicists from the PBS group Time Team America and students from Georgia Southern and the University of Georgia used ground-penetrating radar, magnetometry and other technology to look into the soil to search for anomalies that helped define the locations of the original stockade walls.

“In three days, we conducted more geophysical research than most sites ever do,” Moore said Thursday in a news release. “This laid the baseline for years of future research for Georgia Southern students.”

Archaeologists also extracted several wooden timbers that were submerged in Magnolia Spring, which provided water for thousands of prisoners housed at Camp Lawton.

The timbers, including one that weighed about 400 pounds, were found where the stockade wall would have crossed the spring, which still flows through the park. Core samples taken from the timbers will help researchers confirm they were part of the Camp Lawton stockade.

The public will have an opportunity to visit the archaeological site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

During Camp Lawton’s brief existence in the final months of the Civil War, the 42-acre site housed more than 10,000 Union prisoners.

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