Students participate in archeology dig of Civil War prison camp Camp Lawton

Kyle Clark

Students at Georgia Southern University are participating in the exploration and excavation of Camp Lawton, a Confederate prisoner of war camp in Millen, Georgia for Union soldiers.

Anthropology professor Ryan McNutt said these transitory sites were a mix between civilian and combatant, attached to the war yet not engaged in the active fighting. This makes sites such as Camp Lawton valuable for learning about the power structure and society at the time, both in terms of prison life, and life during the time period as a whole.

Artifacts as simple as buttons or broken bottle shards offer a deeper look into the lives at Camp Lawston than that initial glance first provides, McNutt said. Stories about immigrants from Ireland, Germany and other locations have been uncovered at the camp, along with stories relating to evacuations spurred on by General Sherman’s march into Georgia.

McNutt is leading a field school at Camp Lawton to not only explore those ideas but to teach professionalism and proper procedure for archaeological digs. The course teaches the finer points of surveying, extraction and recording at a dig site.

Every Friday this spring three graduate students and seven undergraduate archaeology majors are transported to Camp Lawton for a day’s work hands-on at the camp.

“All equipment and materials are provided. All students need to bring is lunch and water and comfortable outdoor clothing,” McNutt said. “Interested students will learn the nuts and bolts of archaeology, how exactly we do what we do, and draw meaning from the past.”

A similar field course will be offered during the summer semester. According to McNutt, the only fees required will be tuition for six credit hours for the summer course. It will be open to both graduate and undergraduate students.

Students interested in applying for the summer course can find a field school application form in the Carroll Building or email McNutt directly at

For more information on Camp Lawton, visit their Facebook page for further information.

Kyle Clark, The George-Anne Assistant News Editor,