Archaeologists narrow search for Revolutionary-era Camp Security in Springettsbury Twp.

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Brian Sinclair, of Lower Windsor Township, sifts through dirt for relics during Public Day at the Camp Security dig site in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. Althouse has been volunteering at the site since 2014. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The ongoing search for the location of a Revolutionary War-era prisoner of war camp in York County could be coming to an end.

A successful 2020 dig at Camp Security in Springettsbury Township helped archaeologists to narrow down the site of the centuries-old camp, located near the intersection of Eastern Boulevard and Locust Grove Road.

Over the course of September and October, experts combed 27.3 acres of land, culminating in 1,138 found artifacts and two major landmark features, according to John Crawmer, the lead archaeologist with the dig.

“Based on the artifact data that we collected and the features that were found, we came up with high probability areas of where the Camp Security stockade is located," Crawmer said. "The purpose of this year's excavation was not to find the exact location but to take the large space and whittle it down."

Out of five locations archaeologists examined, Weist lower and upper fields have the highest chance of containing the war camp, Crawmer announced to Springettsbury Township Supervisors during Thursday's Board meeting. Submitted by John Crawmer.

Out of five locations archaeologists examined, sites in the former Weist farm, Weist lower and upper fields, have the highest chance of containing the prisoner of war camp, Crawmer announced to Springettsbury Township supervisors during Thursday's board meeting. 

For Crawmer and his team, this means further investigations must be conducted. Once the field is mechanically stripped and examined, supervisors could begin an application for the site for the National Register of Historic Places.

An excavation into Weist lower field is planned this fall, which Crawmer hopes will end phase one of the project. Then, phase two will begin — primarily rooted in sampling the site for researchers to learn more about it.

“The site has national significance because it was related to the American Revolution,” Crawmer said. “Having it on the National Register will significantly increase interest in the site and tourism — and then possibly provide federal funding as well."

During the dig, archaeologists discovered a brass rumbler bell dating 1789. The bell still rings. Submitted by John Crawmer.

During the dig, archaeologists discovered several significant historical artifacts, including a sleigh bell dating to 1789 that still rings and button foil belonging to a captured British soldier.

This foil used to protect buttons, with "33" stamped into it, refers to the 33rd British regiment, which was noted in a letter from George Washington that detailed the list of troops captured during the American victory at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.

“The reason this object is so significant is because it’s directly contributable to prisoners at Camp Security," Crawmer said. "It was worn by someone who was captured at Yorktown and stayed at Camp Security from January 1782 to May 1783."

This tin alloy, stamped with "33" into it, refers to the 33rd British regiment that was noted in a letter from George Washington — which detailed the list of troops captured during the American victory at the Battle of Yorktown. Submitted by John Crawmer.

During Thursday's meeting, township officials unanimously voted to send hundreds of artifacts to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for curation.

Several supervisors during the meeting applauded Crawmer and Carol Tanzola, the president of nonprofit Friends of Camp Security, for their ongoing dedication and work to the historical project.

“I’d like to personally thank you both for an amazing presentation; it was truly enlightening," Supervisor Robert Cox said.

Supervisor Charles Wurster echoed Cox's sentiment, adding that the Camp Security excavation is "an important and worthwhile endeavor."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.