160th Camp Nelson Anniversary Commemoration

A large encampment in a field
US Army Convalescent Camp at Camp Nelson during the Civil War

Convalescent Camp, Camp Nelson Photographic Collection, 1864, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Summer Ranger Series

The US Army established Camp Nelson on April 29, 1863. Over the next three years, the site served as a fortified supply depot, hospital, recruitment and training center, and refugee camp. The National Park Service (NPS) commemorates the 160th Camp Nelson (2023-26) with a series of special events, programs, and multi-media presentations! The special events take place June-September 2023, and feature History at Sunset, Ranger Presentations, and a Campfire Program!

All programs are free and open to the public.


Camp Nelson National Monument
6614 Danville Road Loop 2
Nicholasville, KY 40356

A Park Ranger delivering a program to a group of a visitors in an open field..
A Park Ranger delivering a program to a group of a visitors in an open field at Camp Nelson National Monument.


June 24, 2023: History at Sunset
"Through the Mountains to Old Kentucky: Unionists Refugees from East Tennessee
(7:00 pm - 8:00 pm)

Long before Camp Nelson was established, Unionist counties in East Tennessee were attracting national attention and outrage for the harsh treatment civilians faced by Confederate occupiers. Thousands of Unionists were arrested and sent to prisons across the South, and tensions in the region put pressure on President Lincoln to launch a military campaign to liberate those counties from Confederate control. During this program, visitors will hear stories of the East Tennessee conflict and the flight of refugees into Kentucky, and the conditions that prompted the US to establish Camp Nelson and organize the East Tennessee campaign. Outdoor presentation at the park.

Visitors should bring a camp chair and insect repellent.

July 8, 2023: Ranger Presentation
"The Finishing Blow to the Rebellion": Victory Summer 1863
(2:00 pm - 3:30 pm)

By July 1863, U.S. military forces were on the ascension following the dramatic victories at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Tullahoma. In the Western Theatre, the Armies of the Cumberland and Ohio were tasked with delivering the final deathblow to the Confederacy with offensives into East Tennessee and Georgia. The presentation features Dr. Jennifer Murray (Oklahoma State University) and NPS staff.

The program will be held inside the Barracks building at the park.

July 22, 2023: History at Sunset
Military Impressment: Enslaved Laborers at Camp Nelson (7:00 pm - 8:30 pm)

For over eight months in 1863-1864, the US Army forced enslaved African Americans to work at Camp Nelson. This program marks the160th anniversary of the military's impressment policy in Central Kentucky and will explore how slave labor was used to support the US war effort and emancipation. NPS staff will begin this special event with a short orientation at the Camp Nelson National Monument visitor center, before guiding participants on a 1.5-mile hike of the park's grounds.

Visitors should wear sturdy walking shoes and bring water and insect repellent.

August 11-13, 2023: 160th Anniversary of the Knoxville Campaign (Army of Liberation)
(Hours: To Be Announced)

The National Park Service (NPS) commemorates the 160th Anniversary of the Knoxville Campaign on August 11-13, 2023!

The Army of the Ohio launched the long-awaited East Tennessee offensive from Camp Nelson. The campaign successfully liberated civilian Unionists who had suffered under Confederate occupation since 1861. The inhabitants referred to Major General Ambrose E. Burnside's force as the "Army of Liberation."
The commemorative weekend features immersive living history demonstrations and programs, ranger guided tours, history presentations, and children's activities.

The full schedule will be released soon! Stay tuned for all the details!

Large U-shaped building with grass, paths, and fence in front during the Civil War.
US Sanitary Commission Soldiers' Home at Camp Nelson during the Civil War.

National Archives and Records Administration

Army of Liberation

Click here to learn about the formation of the Army of the Ohio and its operations in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee over the course of 1863. The new army was organized to liberate Unionists in East Tennessee from Confederate occupation and it would ultimately achieve that objective, but it would require marching far and fighting hard. The 21st Massachusetts Infantry was only one of many regiments in the Army of the Ohio, but the experiences of its members reveal both the hardships and triumphs of the 1863 campaign.

Two-story white building in green field.
Oliver Perry House (White House) at Camp Nelson National Monument.


Civil War 160th in 60

The National Park Service (NPS) commemorates the 160th Anniversary of Camp Nelson (2023-26) in a brand-new video series: Civil War 160th in 60!

The special presentations take viewers to battlefields and historic sites across the National Park Service System to highlight the stories and individuals connected to Camp Nelson during the Civil War. The short 1-2 minutes videos will premiere on the Camp Nelson National Monument Facebook page and will be featured here!

Last updated: June 1, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

6614 Old Danville Road Loop 2
Loop 2

Nicholasville, KY 40356


(859) 881-5716
The phone is usually answered 7-days per week, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Voice messages are checked regularly.

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