Universal York

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Camp Security Review, Part One


Digging and sifting at Camp Security 2015
Digging and sifting at Camp Security 2015

The Friends of Camp Security organization, of which I am a board member, is holding a public meeting Tuesday March 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Springettsbury Township building, 1501 Mount Zion Road, York. Information on the upcoming 2016 archaeology dig at the site of the Revolutionary War prisoner-of-war camp will be shared.

The six week excavation period is slated to start May 16, with April 25 the deadline for volunteer registration. Volunteer forms will be available at the meeting or through emailing archaeologist Steve Warfel stevewarfel49@gmail.com. Friends of Camp Security can also be contacted through the www.campsecurity.org website, emailing campsecurity@campsecurity.org, calling 717-755-4367 or through the Friends of Camp Security Facebook page. The mailing address is Friends of Camp Security, PO Box 20008, York, PA 17402.

The FOCS website is being revised soon with a rewritten history of the camp, telling how it came to be situated in our area, the British prisoners who were confined there and the local militia guards. As a review, I’m sharing the updated history in several installments in my next several blog posts, starting with this one:

Camp Security, an American Revolutionary War prison camp built in 1781, was first occupied by the troops of British General John Burgoyne who were captured at Saratoga, New York in 1777. In the summer of 1781, a stockade and living quarters were built on the 280-acre farm confiscated for the camp. Early in 1782, Burgoyne’s men were joined by troops from the Cornwallis army that were recently captured at Yorktown. Only privates and noncommissioned officers from both armies were held at Camp Security. Officers were either exchanged, held in county prison facilities or released on parole. Period memoirs indicate some members of the Convention Army, first housed in the stockade, were permitted to live in a nearby “village of huts.” Cornwallis troops, considered a greater escape risk, were imprisoned in the stockade.

The York County militia guarded Camp Security, except for part of 1782, when the prisoners were guarded by General Hazen’s Continental Army regiment. A pass system allowed some prisoners to work for local residents, thereby supplementing the camp’s meager supply of food, clothing and blankets. Wives and children accompanied many of the prisoners, a common practice at that time. The camp perhaps even housed a few Americans, as some Convention prisoners may have married former colonists during their seven years in captivity. A fever reportedly hit the camp killing many prisoners and family members who were buried near the camp.

Following the end of the war in the spring of 1783, Camp Security was abandoned. Some of the former prisoners may have been were given lands in Canada in exchange for their service. Others stayed in the United States, but most returned to Britain.

(Part two to follow.)

This link will take you to my many posts on Camp Security.