York Town Square

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By this count, York County hosted 3 military prisoner-of-war camps

The cover of the upcoming ‘Journal of York County Heritage’ shows the U.S. Army General Hospital that operated for most of the Civil War in Penn Park. One of the scholarly articles in the journal, by Jean Hershner Brannan, focuses on the military hospital and its newspaper,The Cartridge Box. The journal contains a second Civil War-related article. Scott Mingus writes about damage claims filed by York County property owners in the aftermath of the Confederate Army’s raid through the county in 1863. The York County Heritage Trust will publish the journal in September. Also of interest: Recent books demonstrate York County has much history to explore, and researchers are digging into it.


Dan Meckley, a student of York County history, put forth an interesting point the other day in a conversation, which went something like this:

Dan: Several Confederate soldiers were treated at Washington Hall, the old IOOF hall at South George and King Streets after the Battle of Gettysburg. That was overflow from the military hospital at Penn Park where the Union wounded were treated.


Me: Yes.

Dan: Suppose they were under guard?

Me: Probably by invalided Union soldiers.

Dan: So they were prisoners of war. How many communities can boast of having POW camps for the American Revolutionary (Camp Security), World War II (Camp Stewartstown) and now the Civil War (the still-standing Washington Hall.)

Me: Never thought of that. Since you put it that way… .

The conversation points to a growing interest in the military hospital that operated from 1862 to 1865.

Jean Hershner Brannan’s lead article in the upcoming ‘Journal of York County Heritage’ explores the hospital. Historian Scott Mingus also has extensively researched and written about the Penn Park medical facility that treated about 14,000 Civil War soldiers.

And an exhibit at the York County Heritage Trust that opened just last week – “Sawbones to Saviours: Civil War Medicine at Penn Common” – is the first such exhibit focusing on the hospital. A more expansive Civil War exhibit at the trust, opening next year in the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg – will cover the military hospital and Civil War medicine.

Jean Hershner Brannan’s considerable scholarship on the military hospital has already proven useful.

In her journal article, she points out that the hospital was decidedly a military post, operating according to the rules of the Army.

From that point of view, Dan Meckley’s observation that York County hosted three POW camps is more than technically true. It’s actually true.

Camp Security. Camp Stewartstown.

Camp Washington Hall?

Also of interest:

June Lloyd, another hospital researcher, writes about the hospital on her Universal York blog: York’s Civil War Hospital Treated Many, Lost Few.




Fourth of July activities at the York County Heritage Trust’s Colonial Complex start at 10 a.m. today.


*For disclosure, I was chair of the ‘Journal of York County Heritage’s’ editing team.