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Camp Security Review, Part Six

Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, p. 376, 1791.
Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, p. 376, 1791.

Here is the final post extracted from the recently updated history of Camp Security, the whole of which can be accessed at www.campsecurity.org.

After Sergeant Lamb left, it appears that life at the camp continued as he described it for one more year. The soldiers of Cornwallis’ army remained under close guard, but the residents of Camp Indulgence lived in the village, producing handmade articles and raising children.
The prisoners were held at Camp Security until the British signed the Treaty of Paris, formally ending the war, on April 19, 1783. After their release, some former prisoners stayed in America, while others returned to their former British homes.

A camp fever had broken out sometime among the prisoners, with quite a few dying. They were reportedly buried in a small valley near the camp. Gibson, reporting in the 1880s, said, “the graves are still visible, marked with stones”. It was rumored at the turn of the century that the gravesite was robbed by doctors needing specimen collections. It was also at this time that the graves became the location for a ghost story. The tale, written in a poem entitled Hesse Dahl, tells of the ghosts of the British soldiers that come awake every Christmas, to jeer at their commanding officer who caused them to lose the battle and become captured, only to die at Camp Security.

The land returned to its rightful owner after the war, and the encampment slowly deteriorated. Over the years, the huts and stockades were disassembled and the logs used for firewood, railing or other construction. According to Gibson, local farmers used the posts of the pickets for fencing. It is possible that elements of the camp remain embedded in the fabric of some of the early houses in the York area.
The land was returned to farming, but Gibson’s history states: “Some of the lumber of the fence and stones of the huts yet remain.” George R. Prowell, writing in 1907, states “this historic spot, though very rugged, has been farmed over, so that unless that it is marked, the exact site will be known to future generations only by tradition.

David Brubaker didn’t easily give up pursuing compensation for his losses to his property. Already having started trying to recoup losses from the state in 1781, a listing of petitions brought before the United States House of Representatives on February 12, 1791 reads:

A petition of David Brubaker, of Lancaster county, in the State of Pennsylvania, was presented to the House and read, praying compensation for a quantity of timber, furnished for the purpose of building stockades, huts, &c. for the use of the British prisoners, during the late war.
Ordered, That the said petition do lie on the table.

To table means to postpone consideration, often indefinitely. No record has ever been found indicating that Brubaker ever received reimbursement for his losses from either the federal or state government.

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