Camp Nelson National Cemetery

Cemetery entrance with white headstones and trees in the background in 1968.
Entrance to Camp Nelson National Cemetery in 1968. The cemetery was established as Graveyard No. 2 at Camp Nelson during the Civil War. US Army soldiers were originally buried at Graveyard No. 1, located in the northern section of the camp, and were relocated to the national cemetery in 1866.

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These Honored Dead

This cemetery is situated upon a conspicuous hill within the limits of what was known as Camp Nelson, Jessamine County, Kentucky.
–Edmund Burke Whitman, Superintendent of National Cemeteries, April 1868

Camp Nelson National Cemetery is located adjacent to Camp Nelson National Monument. In the Civil War’s aftermath, the US government initiated a program to recover the bodies of Federal soldiers from scattered battlefields and military posts across the country and reinter them in national cemeteries. Camp Nelson contained four cemeteries during its existence as a military base. The largest of these graveyards, known as Graveyard No. 2, was converted into one of Kentucky’s national cemeteries in 1866. The original tract was eight acres, with seven acres comprising the cemetery and the remainder forming a driveway from the main entrance to the old Danville Turnpike.

Around 1,180 men were buried in the cemetery between 1863 and 1866. Most of these soldiers fell victim to the various diseases that were the scourge of Civil War military encampments. In June and July 1868, a total of 2,023 remains were removed from Frankfort, Richmond, London, Covington, and other parts of Kentucky and reinterred at Camp Nelson National Cemetery. Many of the troops reburied at the national cemetery were from the battlefield at Perryville. The work to relocate these bodies was both difficult and gruesome. Men of the US Army’s burial corps had to locate, identify, and disinter the fallen soldiers, who had been dead for several years at this point, and transport them to the cemetery at Camp Nelson. Besides white soldiers from nearly every Northern and Border State that supplied manpower to the US Army, Camp Nelson National Cemetery also includes the graves of 837 African American troops. Confederate prisoners of war who perished at Camp Nelson were originally buried in the cemetery, but they were all removed either to the Confederate lot in the cemetery at Nicholasville or local private graveyards.

In total, over 2,400 Federal soldiers are buried in Camp Nelson National Cemetery. The Civil War ultimately ended in US victory, but the many long rows of headstones in the national cemetery attest to the terrible costs of the conflict and the ultimate sacrifices that US soldiers paid in the struggle for national union and emancipation.

Since its establishment, Camp Nelson National Cemetery has substantially expanded and is currently administered by the US Department of Veteran Affairs. The remains of US armed forces personnel and veterans who served in conflicts from the late nineteenth century to the present day are buried in the cemetery. The historic section containing the graves of Civil War soldiers is enclosed by a stone wall. In 1995, the Daughters of the Union erected a granite monument in the cemetery dedicated to the memory of US troops who fought in the Civil War. In 1998, Camp Nelson National Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Headstones adorned with wreaths at national cemetery.
Wreaths Across America at Camp Nelson National Cemetery in December 2021.


Bivoauc of the Dead

Last updated: December 18, 2022

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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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