Skip to comments.Pa. field holds secrets of 1780s British POW camp
Posted on 04/07/2013 3:38:51 AM PDT by Pharmboy
Associated Press/Mark Scolforo - 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. It includes the spot where a 1979 archaeological study found numerous artifacts that confirmed local lore that the area had once served as Camp Security, a prison for the English, Scottish and Canadian soldiers who were captured after defeats in the battles of Saratoga and Yorktown. (AP Photo/Mark Scolforo)
(AP) 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.
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The RevWar/Colonial History/General Washington ping list
I saw one of those programs on TV where they trace the genealogy of a celebrity. The celebrity was Rob Lowe. It turned out that one of his ancestors was a Hessian mercenary during the American Revolution. He was captured and held prisoner by the Americans. When he was released at the end of the war, he decided to stay in the U.S.
I think they said in the program where he was held prisoner, but I don’t remember the details. It may have been at the prison discussed in this article.
Do you know when that was printed?
In the 1780s 10 guineas was a LOT of money. Over $50. More than half a year’s per capita income.
Shades of the movie "Poltergeist" ....Don't turn you T.V. on...
Sounds a lot better than the British prisoner ships.
Fascinating article. I love history, especially this era. No, especially all of them. :-)
I have some Jewish friends whose ancestors came to this country as mercenaries, got taken prison, and decided to stay. They admired the lovely, rich farmland available for farming—so much more productive than the land at home in Germany—and the freedom farmers had to keep more of the results of their labor. They also found that there was less prejudice against them here, and a vibrant, very prosperous Jewish community where they were respected.
There is also a quote from an ancestress of mine who lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Captured British troops were being marched past her house and stopped to get a drink. She told them that her sons were off fighting the other Brits and the war would soon be over, but she would be kind to the POWs nevertheless because her own mother had been English. The English officer who wrote this was clearly taken aback by her charitable yet patronizing attitude toward someone as elevated as he was accustomed to being.
Shenandoah Co is where my Mom’s homeplace is. Many German names there. Prob these farmer came from PA but may have been resettled Hession or German troops. I have an old York Co history which says they were marched to VA and let go.I have not the smarts to research my family.
Recruiting Poster, circa 1800, Fourth Regiment of Foot.
Ten Guineas Bounty and a crown to drink his Majestys Health. Wanted to complete a company in His Majestys Fourth or Kings Own Regiment of Infantry
I know several people whose ancestors came up the valley, ending up in northwestern North Carolina, whose genealogical trails just sort of end there in the Shenandoah, with legendary Hessian mercenaries. All surname Smith, coincidentally or not, tall, slim, dark hair, blue or grey eyes, some Cherokee too but then again most who are really “from” here do or have legends of it.
Choosing Smith or Smythe in colonial or early statehood Virginia would be the equivalent of choosing Jones now (or Smith come to think of it), so there would be a certain logic to doing so if that were indeed the case.
I know quite a bit about another Tory/Loyalist/British prisoner of war camp, that being the paling fort at “Moravian Old Town” (Bethabara) here in NC, which was originally erected by the Brethren for the protection of settlers from frequent indian raids. Two of my seven however-many-greats great grandfathers with Revolutionary service served as guards there late in the war, according to various accounts as well as their Rev. pension applications.
Bethabara has been kept up as a park for a very long time, most of it restored or accurate historical recreations based upon ample detailed records of the Brethren as well as archaeological efforts. The paling fort is a striking and popular site there. Not many are aware of it’s role as a POW camp. Fending off marauding Cherokee from within it is more romantic I guess.
This site has a short history as well as a very striking, fairly recent photo of the fort in a misty dawn with the Gemeinhaus looming beyond at the treeline, if you or anyone else is interested:
York isn’t all that far from the northern settlement, I wonder if there are detailed records permitting Camp Security to be recreated as much of Bethabara was?
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
Sure you do. Start with what you know and then go back a generation, to your parents. Ancestry.com is a good place to start, once you get to the grandparents on both sides.
You can get what is called a "5-Generation" work sheet on Ancestry.com, and begin to fill it in. You will be surprised at how much you already know, and actually, how easy it is to find more. Don't be afraid to ask questions of all your known relatives.
Good luck, and good hunting! I will be interested to know how you do! (I'm also here to offer my help to you, since I do genealogy...)
Thanks! I like this!
Indeed. Washington made a point of treating OUR prisoners much, MUCH better than the Patriot prisoners of the Crown.
Of the 30,000 that were brought over, it has often been said that 10,000 died, 10,000 went back to Europe and 10,000 stayed. The 10k dead, must also include those dying from camp fever, smallpox, etc., since battlefield fatalities were not near that high.
The following has been excerpted form a post on roots-web discussion board.
From: John Helmut Merz
Subject: Re: [AM-REV] [Fwd: "Hessian" soldiers questions]
Date: Fri, 29 May 1998 21:43:22 -0700
Of the 30,000 soldiers in the German auxiliary troops who served in America, appr. 17,000 came from the three Hessian principalities of Hessen-Kassel, Hessen-Hanau and Waldeck. The rest was from the Duke of Brunswick and the princes of Ansbach-Bayreuth, and Anhalt-Zerbst, which made no difference to the Americans, they called them all by the name of "Hessians". Within those units were many different nationalities, such as Hungarians, French, Swiss, Prussians, Austrians, Bavarians, Poles, Danes, Dutch, and most of them were either Catholic or Lutheran, with a few Germans of the Jewish faith, there was no distinction made.
There was no distinction made by the American patriots either they referred to all of them as "Hessians", no discrimination there. One, a Jewish officer, comes to my mind, the Quartermaster Jacob Calnek of the Ansbach-Bayreuth Regiment, who settled after the AmRev in Nova Scotia. In fact, he later brought his whole family over from Berlin, which at the time was Prussian territory.
You don’t need “smarts” or any special know-how to research your family.
1. Go to ancestry.com and plug your family names into the search engines there.
2. Join some of the rootsweb groups for your family names and watch the discussion for awhile.
3. Just use Google to chase down the names. Google is putting a lot of old books and records online free of charge.
4. The Mormons have tremendous resources for genealogy that are free. They’re very helpful. It’s not just for Mormons.
Good luck! It’s really fascinating and involving. You will probably end up finding lovely people who are your distant cousins, people you never knew existed but who share common blood. Very cool experience. Have fun with it.