In 1864, the Confederate States of America built a prisoner of war camp here. Named Camp Lawton, the stockade, designed to hold 40,000 prisoners, enclosed 42 acres. The first prisoners arrived from Andersonville in late September of 1864. Due to the rapid approach of Sherman's forces on his infamous March to the Sea
, Camp Lawton was abandoned in late November. However, during those few weeks more than 500 of the approximately 10,000 prisoners succumbed to disease and starvation.
Unlike Andersonville, Camp Lawton's water supply was plentiful and clean as Magnolia Springs flowed through the center of the camp. The stream entered the stockade through the center of the north wall and exited just east of center on the south wall. Approximately midway, the steam was dammed and forced through hewed timber troughs called "sinks" (toilets). Above the sinks, the water could be used for drinking and bathing. Below the sinks, it was only suitable for sanitary purposes.
One historical document states that the stockade was 1,398 feet on the north and south sides and 1,329 feet on the east and west sides. A box 30 feet square situated midway on the eastern side formed the gate. Inside the stockade, streets were laid out to divide the area into 32 rectangles, each 140 by 315 feet. Each rectangle would hold 1,000 men
with each man allotted a little more than 44 square feet. Approximately 30 feet inside each wall was the "dead line." Any prisoner who crossed between the dead line and the wall could be shot by the guards.