Officers' Spring

A pool of water surrounded by leafless trees and a stone retaining wall to the right.
Officer's Spring at Camp Nelson National Monument.


Spring Cleaning

The officer in charge will instruct his guard not to allow any horses, either public or private to be watered in said spring. Until further orders all stock will be watered in Rivers and Ponds.
- Brigadier General Speed S. Fry, July 18, 1864

The US Army's Officers' Spring was a dry-laid limestone reservoir built at the head of a natural spring directly south of the Oliver Perry House [White House]. The home served as officer's quarters and its close proximity to the spring made it a valuable resource to the men. The army added a limestone retaining wall to provide a clean source of drinking water for officers stationed at Camp Nelson during the Civil War. General Fry, camp commandant, ordered a contingent of United States Colored Troops [USCT] to guard the spring and keep it clean from contaminants, especially soldiers watering their horses. The officer commanding the guard detachment was to ensure "that no difficulty occurs at or around the spring and will arrest any one who creates any disturbance."

A wooden sign that reads Depot Trail.
US Army Officer's Spring at Camp Nelson National Monument.


Spring to Life

The Officer's Spring continues to flow at Camp Nelson. A wooden "Depot Trail" sign is located south of the Oliver Perry House [White House] and near the front entrance to the park. The trail descends downhill along a mowed grass path and features interpretive panels. A small wooden bridge provides on observation point and crossing path across the spring, which meanders southeast into the interior of the park.

The remnant limestone retaining walls laid by the US Army can still be seen, and provide a visible, tangible connection to the soldiers, civilians, and refugees who intersected at Camp Nelson during the Civil War.

Last updated: December 17, 2022

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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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