New details on historic Revolutionary War POW camp in York County

York

Camp Security in Springettsbury Township was a prisoner-of-war camp during the Revolutionary War.

British soldiers were once held there, and thousands of artifacts have been dug up from the farmland.

Years ago, the township asked its historic preservation board to identify the number one site worth saving. 

“Camp Security was it, and I went home to my family and to my father and said, ‘Okay Dad, are you going to bail me out if I’m laying down in front of a bulldozer?'” Carol Tanzola said.

Tanzola formed the Friends of Camp Security, which recently partnered with Shippensburg University to better understand exactly where prisoners were held and what their life was like. 

“We are close. We are finding camp-period objects during each excavation, but we’re not finding the structural evidence that tells us we’re on the site of the palisade, a wall that simply surrounded the camp,” senior archeologist Steve Warfel said.

Over the last year, the university has been using ground-penetrating radar to get a more precise idea of where their next dig should be. 

“We’ve been identifying what we call anomalies in the subsurface, trying to distinguish things that might be anthropomorphic from geology, from the natural,” said Sean Cornell, an associate geology professor at Shippensburg University. 

The next dig is scheduled in the spring. If the team turns up definitive artifacts and structures that show they’re in the right place, Friends of Camp Security have a plan. 

It could be easy to leave the site buried, but historians say it helps us better understand who we are. 

“It shows us how a fledgling government in the United States, which was just being formed as a country, how that fledgling government was dealing with a problem it never anticipated. How are they going to handle thousands of prisoners?” historian Jonathan Stayer said.

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