Secrets of 1780s POW Camp Buried in Pennsylvania
English, Scottish, and Canadian soldiers were imprisoned at Camp Security
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2013 7:55 PM CDT
In this photo made on Tuesday, March 26, 2013, Carol Tanzola, president of Friends of Camp Security, points out the property on a 47-acre parcel, located about four miles east of York, Pa.   (AP Photo/Mark Scolforo)

(Newser) – The mud of a south-central Pennsylvania cornfield may soon produce answers about the fate of British prisoners of war—and the newly independent Americans who guarded them—during the waning years of the American Revolution. A few miles east of York, the city that briefly served as the fledgling nation's capital after the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia, more than a thousand English, Scottish, and Canadian soldiers were imprisoned at what was then known as Camp Security. The fight to preserve the plot where those soldiers and their captors worked and lived has lasted almost twice as long as the Revolutionary War itself. And the end is in sight ... if its backers can raise the last few hundred thousand dollars needed to pay for it.

A 1979 archaeological study found numerous artifacts that confirmed local lore about the prison camp's location. Two years ago, the local government, Springettsbury Township, took possession of an adjacent, 115-acre property and last year The Conservation Fund paid a developer nearly $1 million for a 47-acre parcel. Now the Friends of Camp Security faces an August deadline to pay off the fund so it can turn the smaller plot over to the township as well. Assuming that occurs, they'll need to figure out what to do next. The Friends of Camp Security leaders seem to agree the first step should be an archaeological survey to pinpoint the location of major features and any human remains, and recover whatever artifacts they can. Click for more on the prisoners who were kept there.

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May 30, 2013 8:05 PM CDT
Camp Security housed the British from 1781, when it was opened, until word was received in 1783 that the Treaty of Paris had been signed, ending the war. There was immediate correspondence between American Commander-in-Chief George Washington, and his British counterpart, Sir Guy Carleton, about arrangements to send the prisoners home. These document, along with many others, are being researched at the National Archives and Pennsylvania State Archives. English, Scots and Canadians were all British subjects, and they were part of the British troops. It was not uncommon for some soldiers, on both sides, to have their families with them. They weren't imprisoned the rest of thier lives--just until the war was over, unless they were exchanged or escaped before that.
Apr 8, 2013 8:48 PM CDT
Regardless of whomever built the camp and send prisoners to it, the salient point is the camp in question was built well AFTER the Revolutionary War was over! Why weren't the English, Scots and Canadian soldiers repatrated to their countries? Why were they used as forced labor? Why were families with children included in the prison population? What did the prisoners do during the War that apparently required them to be jailed -- along with family members -- for the rest of their lives? It would seem we started early in our Nation's history with places similar to Gitmo! There have to be records of this operation within our Archives. And places such as these camps should be on the National Register of Historic Places.
Apr 8, 2013 2:08 AM CDT
"It was right over there where they kept me," stated the woman in the picture.