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More on Dr. Reed’s 1905 visit to Camp Security

My previous post shared a July 21, 1905 article from the York Daily about Dr. Reed of Lancaster coming to look for the camp where his grandfather guarded Revolutionary War prisoners. We know the site today as Camp Security.

Dr. Reed’s visit must have been important in the news of the day, as I found a similar account of it in the July 21, 1905 York Gazette. This article adds a bit more information, and I thought it would also be worthwhile to transcribe the Gazette article to show how two articles written at the same time on the same event can differ. For example, in the first article Reed describes his grandfather as a ferry operator and as a mill owner in the other, mentioning the Shenk’s Ferry area in both. One of the two or more ferries in that area was known as Reed’s. It crossed over the Susquehanna from above the mouth to Otter Creek to Pequea. But he might have also had a mill, so perhaps one writer picked up on the ferry and another on the mill.

Here is the Gazette article, followed by a few more comments:


Dr. J.A.E. Reed, of Lancaster, was visiting friends in York yesterday. He is the grandson of Capt. Joseph Reed of Chanceford Township, who commanded a company of Associators from the lower end of York County during the American Revolution.

In 1781 Captain Reed’s company was ordered by the governor of Pennsylvania to guard the British and Hessian prisoners confined in a prison pen, four miles southeast of York.

This prison pen was built in the form of a stockade and covered an area of nearly four acres. It was situated at the extreme northwestern corner of Windsor Township, a short distance east of the village of Longstown.

For about eighteen months 1,200 British and a few Hessians who surrendered with Burgoyne at Saratoga in 1777 were captured within this stockade as prisoners of war.

They had been taken first to Boston, where they were imprisoned for one year, and then transferred through the New England states, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the state of Virginia. When these troops, about four thousand in number, reached the Susquehanna at Columbia, Captain Reed’s company formed part of the guard to march these British and Hessians to Charlottesville, Virginia, where they were held from January 1779, to the spring of 1781.

They were then brought to Pennsylvania and placed in prisons at York, Lancaster and Reading. Their officers were taken to Connecticut. After the Revolution, Captain Reed returned to his home and continued the milling business in Chanceford Township, near Shenk’s Ferry, where he lived until his death, October 19, 1804.

His mill property and seven hundred acres of land descended to his two sons, Joseph and William. Dr. Reed, of Lancaster, is the son of William Reed. Dr. Reed served as an army surgeon for three years during the Civil War. He first entered the service as surgeon for the One Hundred and Fifty-Fifth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, in the Army of the Potomac.

He was promoted to the position of brigade surgeon of the Second Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps. He was present at the battle of Gettysburg and all the leading engagements in which the Army of the Potomac participated.

Dr. Reed spent an hour at the rooms of the Historical Society on his visit to friends in York.

His special object of visiting this city was to locate the site of the British prison, which had been guarded for a time by a company commanded by his grandfather during the Revolution.

David McKinley, of Lower Chanceford Township, who was the great-grandfather of President William McKinley was a member of this company.

As I explained in my previous post, Joseph Reed’s name does not appear in the lists in the published Pennsylvania Archives of militia companies guarding Camp Security, but those lists are incomplete. David McKinley is listed in James Edgar’s Company, which served there from August 12, 1781 to October 12, 1781. Dr. Reed might have been confusing his ancestor’s captaincy when the Convention Prisoners were marched through York County to Virginia with duty when they were sent back here a few years later.

Neither article mentions the second batch of prisoners, those surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia with Cornwallis, who arrived at Camp Security in January 1778, so if Joseph Reed was there it might have been before that time.

The article places the camp in Windsor Township, but by matching physical features, results from the 1979 archaeological dig and contemporary accounts, we are certain it was a short distance over the line in Springettsbury Township. At the time the site was part of Hellam Township. The slight mislocation seems to stem from George R. Prowell’s history of Windsor Township, first published in Gibson’s History of York County in 1886 and then repeated in Prowell’s expanded county history in 1907. Prowell was the director, and half the staff, of the Historical Society of York County (predecessor of the present York County History Center) in 1905, so Reed would have almost certainly spoken to Prowell when he visited the historical society’s “rooms” in the courthouse on East Market Street.

I will be checking the microfilms of the York Dispatch at the York County History Center, so we will see if they also found Dr. Reed’s quest newsworthy.