York’s Camp Security Known as Cuckoo’s Nest by Soldier
View of part of probable Camp Security area
There is admittedly a lot we still don’t know about Camp Security, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t looking.
Until more archaeological digs are done, we won’t know any more about the physical location. The artifacts and signs of location found in the only fairly extensive dig, in 1979, would be roughly behind the band of trees in the right center of the photo above. I took the photo from the Schultz House property last fall when I was helping clean and catalog items found around the house last summer.
In the meantime research is going on in archives and libraries to learn more about the camp. Mark your calendar for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 10. As part of York County Heritage Trust’s popular “Second Saturdays” series, Jonathan Stayer is going to be talking about Camp Security, including recent research and documentation, as well as recent controversies about its preservation and future. Stayer, who is Head, Reference Section of the Pennsylvania State Archives, grew up not far from the site and has been researching Camp Security for many years. The program will be at the historical society meeting hall at 250 East Market Street in York.
One problem in researching Camp Security is that it didn’t have an official name. It was just called a prisoner of war camp, as were quite a few others. Camp Security is a nickname given to the stockade and its prisoners, as opposed to those housed outside the stockade in huts a short distance away (called Camp Indulgence).
As I explained in a previous lenghty post on Camp Security, the two main two groups at Camp Security were the Convention prisoners, surrendered at Saratoga in October 1777, and prisoners from the October 1781 Battle of Yorktown. I recently spent most of the day at the National Archives reading a microfilm on the Convention Troops. Unfortunately, that particular record ended shortly before their arrival at Camp Security around August, 1781. At least it is one more source ruled out, so I’ll tackle another resource next time I visit the archives.
What about “the cuckoo’s nest?” A friend recently shared a transcription of the Revolutionary War pension application of York native William Adams explaining his three terms of service. It was originally posted on USGenWeb Archives by Nancy Poquette in 2006. See excerpts below:
Pension Application Of William Adams, Natl Archives Microseries M804, Roll #__, Application #S5232
Washington County, PA, October 1st, 1834, William Adams, aged 86 years and 8 months: “That he entered the army of the United States in the year 1776 under Captain William Ross, and served for 2 months in a volunteer regiment commanded by Colonel Francis Holton from York County, PA. The regiment to which my company was attached was raised principally if not entirely in York County, PA….
“My second term of service occurred on or about the 12th day of November, 1777, and was also for 2 months. On this occasion I served under a Pennsylvania draft. When I was drafted, I still lived in York County….
“The third time was out in the service I was also drafted for two months, and spent the whole term at a place called the Cuckoo’s Nest in York County, 3 miles from Little York, and 12 miles from my (then) residence. On this occasion, I entered the service under Captain Fulton, to the best of my recollection, some time in August 1781, and was marched directly to the Cuckoo’s Nest, where the company was engaged to guard a large number of prisoners. We spent the two months standing guard and building stockades. No incidents of importance happened the whole time we lay there worthy of mention. The history of two days is nearly the history of the whole two months-a day of rest and a day of duty. I belonged to the 4th class, and we stayed at the stockade until we were relieved, in October, by a draft from the 5th class. I cannot now recollect the names of any other officers who was out with me on this occasion, except my captain’s which I have already given.”
He has to be describing Camp Security, but where did the Cuckoo’s Nest name come from? Another clue?
Click here for another clue.