|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
This cemetery is all that remains of the town of Lawton, Ga. It was a railway station/community located on the Augusta and Savannah Railroad just east of Magnolia Springs (Camp Lawton).
Camp Lawton was established during the Civil War in the fall of 1864 by the Confederate Army to house Union prisoners of war at Magnolia Springs in order to take advantage of the abundant water supply. Built by slave labor of pine timber harvested on site, the walls measured 12 to 15 feet (4.6 m) high. The stockade began receiving the first of at least 10,299 prisoners in early October. The post was abandoned by the end of November when threatened by Sherman's drive on Savannah.
Described by its builder, Brigadier General John H. Winder, as "the largest prison in the world," Camp Lawton was hastily constructed in the late summer and fall of 1864 to alleviate the horrendous overcrowding and supply and health problems of the Confederate military prison at Andersonville (Camp Sumter), Georgia, that eventually resulted in the deaths of nearly 13,000 Union POWs. The land for the prison was rented from Mrs. Caroline Elizabeth Jones, a local widow. Camp Lawton was initially occupied by enlisted Union POWs during the first week of October. Located along the Augusta and Savannah Railroad five miles north of what was then Millen Junction in Burke County, the new prison facility was modeled after Camp Sumter, but in its execution and operation, was an improvement in most respects.
Initially, POW burials were located near the railroad in a series of three trenches; later burials were located in a trench near the mill pond downstream from the stockade. Although records differ, at least 725 Union soldiers died at Camp Lawton. Following the war, the Army Quartermaster-General's Office consolidated the burials of Union dead and established the short-lived Lawton National Cemetery on a four-acre plot near the site of the former prison. A dispute with the landowner led to the closure of the cemetery in February 1868, and the bodies were transferred to Beaufort (S.C.) National Cemetery.
Lawtonville Cemetery contains the graves of people of Lawton, Ga who remained after the prison's closing. This town slowly dwindled away and completely disappeared when its last remaining resident passed away.