Preservation News: Camp Nelson National Monument

Although the presidential decision and designation has been politicized and received controversially, historians can still rejoice in the creation of a new national monument with Civil War significance.

This week Camp Nelson in Kentucky received designation as a national monument, ensuring its protection and historical interpretation.

According to National Park Traveler’s article:

Located in Jessamine County, Kentucky, Camp Nelson was one of the largest Union Army recruitment and training centers in the nation for African American soldiers, then known as U.S. Colored Troops. Thousands of enslaved African Americans risked their lives escaping to Camp Nelson with the hope of securing their freedom and controlling their own futures during and after the war.

Today, the site remains one of the best-preserved landscapes and archaeological sites associated with Civil War-era U.S. Colored Troops recruitment camps and the African American refugee experience. Camp Nelson will now be the 418th site that the National Park Service oversees.

A historic image of Camp Nelson. (NPS)

This new National Monument was created by President Trump under the Antiquities Act and after much advice and consultation with congressional and public leaders; it is the first time this president has taken this preservation step. Significantly, Camp Nelson National Monument’s creation recognizes the contributes and sacrifices of African Americans during the Civil War in the ongoing debate, struggle, and preservation of freedom which is a vital part of U.S. History.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke celebrated the moment and publicly declared:
“Camp Nelson, and all the patriots who have ties to it, holds an incredible place in America’s history, and President Trump’s action to designate Camp Nelson as a National Monument will ensure the ongoing protection of the site and the story… America’s parks, battlefields and monuments tell the story of who we are as Americans. Camp Nelson was instrumental as a refuge for escaped and emancipated slaves. The camp tells the story about Americans who risked absolutely everything they have and everyone they love to fight for their freedom, the cause of liberty and to preserve the Union.”

1 Response to Preservation News: Camp Nelson National Monument

  1. Camp Nelson was established just a few miles up the road from Camp Dick Robinson, a recruiting and training camp established by William “Bull” Nelson (the Navy Lieutenant who was promoted to Brigadier General by President Lincoln in the Summer of 1861.) The thousands of men who trained as Home Guard at Camp Dick Robinson are accorded credit for keeping Kentucky in the Union; and the men at Camp Nelson are accorded credit for persisting with the struggle, and seeing the fight through until the War was won.

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