Universal York

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Visit to Camp Security in 1905

I found this article from the July 21, 1905 York newspaper, probably the York Daily, in the Jere Carl scrapbooks at the York County History Center. Little articles about Camp Security pop up every now and then in the old newspapers. Even though these articles might not be completely accurate, as passed-down stories do tend to change, they show that the importance of Camp Security has never been forgotten by local residents.

Here is the newspaper account:



His Grandfather Commanded Guard of Famous Revolutionary Prison—Has War Record Himself

Dr. John A.E. Reed, of Lancaster, came to York yesterday to locate definitely the site of the Hessian prison of Revolutionary days. His grandfather commanded the guard of this prison and Dr. Reed is deeply interested in data pertaining to the Hessian prisoners and their prison. He visited the York County Historical Society’s rooms and made some investigation there.

Dr. Reed has a war record of no mean order himself. Soon after the opening of the Civil War, Dr. Reed was appointed surgeon for the 155th regiment, Pennsylvania volunteers, with the rank of major. He served in that capacity for a time, and was then promoted to be surgeon for the Second brigade, First division, Fifth corps, Army of the Potomac. He had charge of the field hospital near Little Round Top on the second and third days of the battles in when it participated in the Army of the Potomac.

Dr. Reed is a grandson of Captain Joseph Reed, of Revolutionary fame, who owned the place now known as Shank’s Ferry, Chanceford Township. During that war, Joseph Reed was captain of a “Company of Associators,” from the lower end of York County. For several months in 1781, Captain Reed and his company composed the guard which had charge of the British and Hessian prison, situated four miles southeast of York, near the village of Longstown. At this place which was surrounded by a stockade, 1,200 British soldiers and a few Hessians were held prisoners of war for a period of two years, or until the end of the Revolution. These prisoners had surrendered with Burgoyne’s army at Saratoga, in 1777, and previous to having been brought here were imprisoned at Boston and later at Charlottesville, Virginia, near the home of Thomas Jefferson.

After the Revolution, Captain Reed returned to his ferry in Chanceford Township, and continued to cultivate a large tract of land. This tract descended to his two sons, Joseph and William, at the time of his death, in 1804. Captain Reed’s remains were buried in the Chanceford churchyard near Airville, this county, where some other soldiers of the Revolution also were buried.

Notice that Hessians, soldiers hire from their rulers in part of what is now Germany, are prominently mentioned, even though the article itself mentions that the prisoners were “1,200 British soldiers and a few Hessians.” Pennsylvania German poet and York attorney, Henry Lee Fisher, had written his poem about the Camp Security area, Hesse Dhal (Hessian Valley), not many years before, and that misnomer seems to have stuck.

Joseph Reed’s name doesn’t appear on the list of militia guards at Camp Security transcribed from the published Pennsylvania Archives. Those lists, although lengthy, are not complete, so Captain Reed’s company may well have served a guard rotation at the site. Click this link for the transcriptions, done by Blake Stough for the Friends of Camp Security.

Friends of Camp Security is sponsoring a bus trip to the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia on October 26. Click here for information.