Watch the Camp Lawton Prison Discovery on Time Team America Episode
October 5, 2012

UPDATE 8/6/2014

HERE IS THE LINK: http://video.pbs.org/video/2365255141/

This link goes to an online version of the upcoming Time Team America episode on the search and discovery of Camp Lawton Confederate prisoner of war camp near Millen, Georgia. I was a part of the team, I got the hat and the minimum wages from Oregon Public TV. We did our GPR and other remote sensing work over about 10 acres the days before the circus began. Rita Elliott and I drove up to see the circus but carefully avoided getting in front of the camera. We were there the day that the stockade wall was discovered (I got some rare video footage of that on my iphone). Our LAMAR Institute colleague, Daniel E. Battle, was part of the circus. Dan Battle actually discovered the juicy archaeological stuff at Camp Lawton back in December, 2009. That is all documented in our LAMAR Institute report number 161
http://thelamarinstitute.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48&Itemid=58
Dan Battle also made the first discoveries of the Confederate guard’s camp, which I think is a MAJOR find too. Congratulations to Dan Battle!

Meg, the blonde lady with the red cart, was the boss of the geophysical team, of which I was part back in October 2012. That was about four days of craziness where we covered a huge area, probably the largest acreage of geophysical work ever done in Georgia. Meg did a masterful job in pulling it all together. Congratulations to everyone who played a part in this important discovery! I hope you enjoy the movie.

You may also watch the Time Team America discovery on your regular television set via your local PBS affiliate. Just check their schedules for time and dates.

UPDATE 3/6/2013, James K. Chapman’s M.A. Thesis, entitled, COMPARISON OF ARCHEOLOGICAL SURVEY TECHNIQUES AT CAMP LAWTON, A CIVIL WAR PRISON STOCKADE, is mirrored at the following link: Tchapman_james_k_201201_mass

2012 Post:

Over the past week a team of archaeologists converged on the CSA Camp Lawton prison site at Magnolia Springs, near Millen, Georgia determined to make major discoveries. Their goal was realized on Thursday and Friday when three walls of the prison stockade were confirmed by excavation. Earlier in the week a smaller team of geophysicists scurried over the landscape with high-tech tools busy making maps of the subsurface environment. Ground Penetrating Radar, Electro-magnetics and Flux gate gradiometers were among the tools used to search for remains of the Civil War prison. Excavations ended today (Friday Oct 5) with several major finds capping a week of many grand discoveries. The Time Team America episode on the Camp Lawton investigations will air next year. Meanwhile, readers may wish to read the writings of John Derden, Daniel Elliott, or Daniel Battle. The LAMAR Institute’s report is available online for free download at

"Meg in the Car Park"

Searching for the Camp Lawton prison stockade wall.

http://thelamarinstitute.org/images/PDFs/publication_162.pdf

Raw video footage of the discovery  may be seen on Youtube.com (shown below):

 

UPDATE:

Stockade Wall Found at Camp Lawton
Article by Bryan Tucker, State Archaeologist

Preservation Posts, November 2012, Issue 42,

Georgia Department of Natural Resources

http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=e6c3a4351838f93c43cd740be&id=c5da2357fd&e=d6fa022296

 

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GPR Survey at Ebenezer 2010
June 25, 2010

Current GPR survey work at the colonial townsite of New Ebenezer has revealed the complete outline of an octagonal British fortification that guarded the entrance to town. The fort, known as Redoubt Number 3, was built under the direction of Colonel James Moncrief in early 1779 and was filled-in by Continental troops in June, 1782–thus its deposits contain a history of three years of the American Revolution in Georgia. No trace of this fort is visible on the surface but archaeological tests confirmed its existence. This image is a preliminary version and the final version will be published in a LAMAR Institute Research Publication. This project was funded by the Georgia Salzburger Society, Inc. The goal of that project was to defined the outer boundaries of the Jerusalem Cemetery, and that effort is ongoing.

GPR Overlay Map of British Redoubt 3, Ebenezer, Georgia

GPR at Theus Plantation–Yesterday’s News
April 8, 2008

Yesterday, I conducted a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey of a portion of the Theus plantation at Palmetto Bluff, Beaufort County, South Carolina. I was ably assisted by archaeologists Ellen Shlasko, Kris Lockyear, Katrina Epps, Heather Cline, Jessie Ann Larson, and others at Integrated Archaeological Services, Bluffton, SC. This study was also covered by the local news media (The Island Packet, see archives for 04/08/08 at islandpacket.com). The preliminary survey results look very intriguing. Stay tuned for more! Oh, and we had good press coverage, see photo below of Island Packet reporter Liz Mitchell and a typical GPRchaeologistTheus Plantation GPR Survey

Text of article from Savannah Morning News, May 30, 2008, by Doug Wyatt:

Archaeologists dig into Palmetto Bluff’s rich history
By Doug Wyatt
Created 2008-05-29 23:30

Palmetto Bluff, near Bluffton, is a swanky place. On the community’s 20,000 acres, you’ll find plenty of stunning scenery, not to mention elegant homes, a spa, tennis courts and other trappings of modern affluent living.

It’s been highly-prized land for a long time, Mary Socci reminds us.

“What’s prime real estate now was prime real estate during the Civil War,” she says. “Not to mention 4,000 years ago.”

Socci is Palmetto Bluff’s archaeologist. In 2004, Palmetto Bluff contracted with Integrated Archaeological Services to dig into the area’s rich history. The community is in its “second phase” of construction, with much of the area still undeveloped.

Working alongside a team from IAS headed by Ellen Shlasko, Socci and her staff have spent the past several years finding and recording the area’s historical and cultural sites. Federal and state laws require developers to document such sites before they build on the land.

Plantation left few clues

The search for the sites often isn’t easy. Theus Plantation, for example, was once a 1,000-acre working farm in the area. Early written records are vague, but a British sea captain owned the property in the 1730s. James T. Theus bought the property in 1830; he raised livestock and harvested corn, peas, beans and cotton on the land.

Obviously there were structures on the estate, but archaeologists haven’t been able to find them. Their only clue was a series of faint fence-post holes.

“We basically have a field that has been plowed for centuries,” Socci said. “There are all sorts of artifacts lying on top of the group, but they’re jumbled up. It’s been plowed so much we’ve lost all context for what we’re finding.”

Among the numerous artifacts that have been discovered are handmade nails, animal bones, pieces of ceramic, buttons made from bone and glass. The items were crafted over millennia; the area has been inhabited, Socci said, since at least around 2000 B.C.

Bringing in the radar

The real story of the Theus Plantation era is found a couple of feet below the field’s surface. What the archaeologists needed was a gizmo that could see through the soil and tell them what might lie underneath.

Dan Elliott, fortunately, has such a machine.

Elliott is a research archaeologist and president of the Savannah-based LAMAR institute. Since 1982, the nonprofit group has conducted archaeological research across the Southeast, embarking on such wide-ranging projects as a study of the Oconee River Valley’s aboriginal mound sites and a survey of previously unstudied colonial period settlements in Georgia and South Carolina.

Elliott owns ground-penetrating radar equipment that sends pulses underground and detects “bounce-back” signals. His GPR machine, resembling a lawnmower with a computer screen atop it, can show and record objects up to 6 feet below the surface. With the device, he can detect foundations, walls, wells and small artifacts without disturbing the soil.

One day in April, Elliott donated his time and his machine to Palmetto Bluff, helping Socci and Shlasko unearth Theus Plantation’s long-buried secrets. In a few short hours, he detected underground post holes and what might be a well. Both would indicate structures, possibly even a house, on the site.

The GPR, Elliott said, “saves a lot of time and manpower. This technology makes us smarter and more efficient, but it will never replace people digging in the dirt.”

A slow process

On a recent warm day, archaeologists JaColeman Hutto and Jessie Lerson carefully scraped away at the earth, exploring the spot where Elliott thinks he detected a well.

“It’s a slow, painstaking process,” Lerson said. “But it’s great being outside. Working inside somewhere filing and collating would be a lot worse.”

About 30 sites of possible historical and cultural importance have been found at Palmetto Bluff, Socci said. “About half of them are Native-American sites; the others are plantation sites.” Her archaeologists, she said, are “down to the last few sites” requiring excavation.

The thousands of artifacts gleaned from the sites are being stored for future study by researchers; some are already on display in the community’s museum.

Many of Palmetto Bluff’s residents, Socci said, have shown a strong interest in learning about the area’s long history.

“It’s a fascinating place,” she said.
For photographs that accompany the article visit: savannahnow.com

The Ground Truth!

The true test of GPR is excavation, and Ellen and her crew tested several GPR anomalies that I recommended for study. The results were very good, in that the GPR anomalies proved to locate cultural features. Some were a little boring maybe, but cultural features none the less.

GPR Plan map of Theus Plantation 2008

GPR Plan map of Theus Plantation 2008

Above is one of the GPR maps. Note the row of circular anomalies at about 20 m north. Below is what was located in the vicinity of one strong circular anomaly, which was located at about 20 m north and 23 m east of the 0 0 point.

A large feature located by the GPR survey and confirmed by excavation.

GPR Anomaly Verified!

Archaeology of Savannah’s Revolutionary Past
March 30, 2008

PRESS RELEASE

COASTAL HERITAGE SOCIETY

For release Friday, March 21, 2008

Archaeologists Discover Artifacts from 1779 Battle of Savannah in Madison Square

Today Coastal Heritage Society archaeologists unearthed several artifacts from the October 1779 Battle of Savannah in Madison Square in downtown Savannah. Lead archaeologist Rita Elliott and her team discovered two musket balls—one French, the other British—as well as a shoe buckle, a brass ring, and lots of loose brick fragments, in the northeast corner of Madison Square (the corner sandwiched between the DeSoto Hilton Hotel and E. Shaver, Bookseller). The discoveries come on the fifth and final day of a series of digs that began in Emmett Park on East Bay Street.

Elliott believes the site occupies the location of a French and American false attack on British lines, designed to distract attention away from the main attack on the Spring Hill Redoubt—now the site of Battlefield Memorial Park on MLK and Louisville Road. The brick fragments may be remnants of a former military barracks which were torn down prior to the battle to provide cover for British troops defending the city. Ironically, today’s discoveries took place in the shadow of a monument to Sgt. William Jasper, who died in the 1779 battle.

Quick facts:

  • The work is funded by a $37,857 American Battlefield Protection Program grant from the National Park Service.
  • The team used computer software to match modern maps with more than a dozen historical maps, and pinpoint the most likely place to find artifacts.
  • The team is headed by CHS Archaeologist Rita Elliott, who also headed the CHS team that found artifacts and fortifications on Battlefield Memorial Park in 2005. archaeologists Dan Elliott and Laura Seifert round out the team, along with veteran volunteer archaeologist Carl Arndt.
  • This is a year-long project with multiple phases of research, field work, lab work, and report writing.
  • Between 8,000 and 12,000 troops took part in the October 1779 battle. The British forces defeated a combined French and American army, and roughly 800 soldiers were killed or wounded.

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

UPDATE: 04/20/2008.

Since this past Monday our crew dug up six feet of Revolutionary 
War dirt, actually only 5 feet as the top 1 foot covered the period from 1783-
2008.  In the top 3 feet of it was the backfill dirt that was put there in late 
1782 by Major General Anthony Wayne (fellow PA guy) and his men. Beneath that 
is 2 more feet covering the period from September 1779-mid 1782. The very 
bottom 6 inches or so is the Siege of Savannah layer, September and October 
1779. It had small lead musket balls, possibly from Pulaski's Legion. We were 
in a British ditch outside of an earthen fort. We discovered it about a month 
ago and returned this week for a bigger sample. We found it through several 
means including historical map research, GPR survey, and dumb luck. Our 2 meter 
by 2 meter test unit came down on the edge of it perfectly so that we also have 
a good idea of its orientation. This part of the Savannah battlefield was lost 
since soon after General Wayne's men filled it in. Oh, and in the level just 
above the battle, which had lots of post-battle debris, we found a single lead 
musket ball that was made into a die. Lucky seven, lucky seven. 
It was in great condition. 
The British troops that garrisoned this part 
of the defenses were "Armed negroes and pickets", or the enslaved people 
belonging to Loyalist jerks and some watchful sharpshooters. The crack British 
troops were kept safe from harm, about a half mile to the northeast.