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Guards at Camp Security 9: Philip Werntz & Jacob Beam



Here are two more excerpts, possibly related, from Revolutionary War pension applications at the National Archives concerning erecting a stockade for the British prisoners held at York (Camp Security).

By the time he was eligible for a pension under the 1832 act, Philip Werntz was living in Haines Township, Centre County, Pennsylvania, having moved there three years before from Lancaster County. Werntz had been born in Earl Township, Lancaster County, but he was living in York when he was called out with the local militia to guard English prisoners. (Over fifty years after the fact, he thinks this was in 1780, but the duties fit the summer of 1781.)

He attests that in August members of his militia “company were a great part of the time engaged in Fatigue duty—to dig ditches—make palisades &c for the safe keeping of said prisoners. After the expiration of said three months fully served out, a second draft of militia was made and said Philip Werntz served three months more as a substitute for Daniel Sprenkle of York County aforesaid in guarding prisoners at or near the town of York.”

Werntz’s testimony becomes more significant when coupled with the pension application affidavit filed by Jacob Beam, whose tour of duty at Camp Security seems to have immediately followed Werntz’s in the fall of 1781.

Beam was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania but moved to York County. He was drafted with his militia unit from Warrington Township, York County. He was living in Hancock County, Ohio by 1832, having lived in Somerset County, Pa. and Jefferson and Richland Counties in Ohio along the way. He relates guarding prisoners near York after the surrender of Cornwallis. He states: “I was in no other county then York during said service…the prisoners were in what was called a Stockade trenched around it. We were on guard all round said place for the purpose of keeping within said prisoners.”

This is the first description I have seen of a trench around the stockade, possibly also what Werntz was referring to as having to dig ditches besides putting up palisades. This might be another clue to finding the stockade location on the Camp Security site.

Philip Werntz and Jacob Beam both do appear on the lists in the published Pennsylvania Archives, but spelling was more or less irrelevant at that time. Werntz appears as Warns and Beam as Bean. Werntz did obtain a pension, but Beam did not, probably at least partially because of the spelling issue.

Click here for previous Camp Security posts.