York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

York County has done its share of playing host to POWs

In two wars, York County has played a reticent host to prisoners of war.
Not surprisingly, York countians fretted over the occupants of both camps — Camp Security in the American Revolution and Camp Stewartstown in World War II. Our military men were fighting and dying in battle with Britain and Germany, respectively, and the government brought enemy prisoners into our midst.
I covered the enormous frustration brought on by Camp Security and the American Revolution in a York Sunday News column. See Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and history.
Here’s another example from a diarist in 1783:
“During a visit in Bottstown, I heard much from Bro. John Rothrock and others about the wicked and lewd conduct of the British officers during their stay here, who had exercised a very demoralizing influence on our young people.” …

The Camp Stewartstown story shows fear and a bit of pity evoked by the German soldiers within the fenced area next to the town’s Presbyterian Church. (Some of the camp’s buildings are still in use at the fairgrounds. See “German prisoners from two wars came to York County” in York Town Square.”)
Erma Barnes, a nearby resident, wrote: “Pity would rise in our hearts as we thought of them so far from their homeland. Then we remembered the hometown boys fighting and dying on foreign soil, in a war started by their leader — and one would then feel almost like a traitor.”
Actually, laborers from a third prisoner-of-war camp worked in York County. A camp in Gettysburg supplied workers for canneries in Hanover.