Archaeological Dig Approved at Camp Security
The Friends of Camp Security, working with Springettsbury Township, has been awarded a grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to enable an archaeological dig planned for late summer. There will be a public meeting at the Springettsbury Township building, 1501 Mount Zion Road on Wednesday, June 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. with more information about the dig and how to potentially volunteer. Any residents of the Penn Oaks-Stony Brook area that have found anything over the years are asked to share their information; every bit of knowledge will help to fill in the history of the site and of those who were detained there and of the local militia members who served as guards.
We refer to the site by its popular name “Camp Security,” referring to the entire area occupied by British prisoners from the summer of 1781 until the end of the war in 1783. This includes both the area within the stockade nicknamed Camp Security, containing the prisoners surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, and the group of huts that housed the soldiers (some with families) taken at the Battle of Saratoga, New York in 1777.
The Memoir of General Graham: with Notices of the Campaigns in Which He Was Engaged from 1779 to 1801 was edited and published in 1862 by Graham’s son. Samuel Graham was a Captain in the 76th Regiment of Foot in 1781 and among those captured at Yorktown and sent to Lancaster and York. Graham’s contemporary account explains the nicknames:
“At Lancaster the soldiers were kept in a tolerable barrack, surrounded by a high stockade, and strictly guarded. At York they were kept in huts newly constructed, also surrounded by a high stockade, and were also strictly guarded. At a little distance from, but in sight of, our men’s huts, upon a rising ground were situated a number of huts occupied by soldiers of General Burgoyne’s army, also prisoners of war, but without stockade or guard. Our men named their own camp ‘Security,’ and the other camp ‘Indulgence.’ Major Gordon having been directed to take charge of the prisoners at Camp Indulgence, and having received but indifferent accounts respecting them—most of them having married in the country—generally selected bad weather to visit them, when very few appeared.”
As many of you know, I have been going to the National Archives at least once a month for several years, trying to find more information on Camp Security. Finding information there is very difficult as I have never seen the term “Camp Security” used in any original documents at a national level, except in a few pension applications by soldiers who served there or their widows. The term, even though not official, seems to have been fairly widespread though, as “Camp Security” references can be found in records at the Pennsylvania Archives. It was also passed down in the York area and has been used locally to refer to the site here ever since the Revolutionary War.