Preserved for nearly 150 years, perhaps by its own obscurity, a short-lived Confederate prison camp began yielding treasures from the Civil War almost as soon as archeologists began searching for it in southeastern Georgia.
They found a corroded bronze buckle used to fasten tourniquets during amputations, a makeshift tobacco pipe with teeth marks in the stem, and a picture frame folded and kept after the daguerreotype it held was lost.
Georgia officials say the discoveries, announced Wednesday, were made by a 36-year-old graduate student at Georgia Southern University who set out to find Camp Lawton for his thesis project in archaeology.
He stunned experienced pros by not only pinpointing the site, but also unearthing rare artifacts from a prison camp known as little more than a historical footnote on the path of Gen. William T. Sherman's devasting march from Atlanta to Savannah.
"What makes Camp Lawton so unique is it's one of those little frozen moments in time, and you don't get those very often," said Dave Crass, Georgia's state archaeologist. "Most professional archaeologists who ever thought about Camp Lawton came to the implicit conclusion that, because people weren't there very long, there wouldn't be much to find."