Camp Lawton aka Millen Prison was located about 5 miles north of Millen, Georgia on a creek and near the Augusta and Savannah railroad.
Some accounts of the creation of this prison allude to the Confederate’s concern for the overcrowding and excessive deaths of Union prisoners at Andersonville, but facts bear out that the prison was hastily built because word of Sherman’s march in Georgia would likely include Andersonville and the Confederates feared that Sherman would release the prisoners.
The new prison was named Camp Lawton and it was nearly twice the size of Andersonville, comprising of 42 acres of land. The work of building the fortress began in September of 1864 using about 300 prisoners and 500 slaves. It was a log stockade with guard towers and outside of the stockade on high ground surrounding the prison, three earthen forts that were intended to prevent escapes and prevent attacks. The work was completed by early October and prisoners were received there on October 15, 1864. No shelters were built for the prisoners. Only the most fortunate of them even had a blanket and most could only burrow into the dirt for warmth. By November 8, 1864 10,229 prisoners had been received at the new prison. On November 25, 1864, the camp was abandoned in advance of Sherman’s march. Only the dead remained.
In that short period, from October 15th when the first prisoners arrived, to the time that the prison was evacuated on November 24th, more than 700 prisoners died of disease, exposure and malnutrition. In 1867 the Lawton National Cemetery was created and 748 bodies were interred there.
About a year after the formation of the Lawton National Cemetery a dispute arose over property rights, and legal action forced the removal of the cemetery. The remains were then re-interred at Beaufort National Cemetery in North Carolina.
Today, the area near the water where the prison once was is the Magnolia Springs Park. The earthworks that were outside of the fortress remain and there are historical markers within the park denoting some of its history.