Historically known for being ONE of the largest recruitment and training centers for African American soldiers during the Civil War, Camp Nelson Heritage National Monument is a must-visit destination for RV lovers interested in Civil War history. Located in Kentucky, specifically in Jessamine County, Camp Nelson Heritage National Monument (previously known as Camp Nelson National Monument) was renamed in March of 2019 and encompasses the national monument, historical museum and park.
The history of the area dates back to before it was a training center, as it was a Union army supply depot and hospital. The camp was first established in 1863 when General Ambrose Burnside was tasked with capturing and holding eastern Tennessee and eventually taking Knoxville, which was a Confederate rail hub. At its peak in 1865 Camp Nelson was around roughly 4,000 acres in size and had more than 300 buildings and tents. These buildings housed a quartermaster commissary depot, ordnance depot, recruitment center, prison, and a hospital.
Camp Nelson Heritage National Monument is also culturally significant to African Americans as it was the largest of the eight African American recruitment centers in Kentucky and the third largest U.S. Colored Troops recruiting center in the country. By joining the army, these people were emancipated and once the 13th Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865 roughly 10,000 African American men had enlisted and claimed their freedom at Camp Nelson.
In present day there are multiple buildings available for visitors to explore, museum exhibits to check out and a very informative visitor center. There are also more than five miles of hiking trails so you will have many chances to explore in and around the area. While you are at the monument we recommend that you also check out the Camp Nelson National Cemetery which is located adjacent to the national monument.
While there are no RV camping sites at Camp Nelson Heritage National Monument there is one available only five miles from the entrance to the monument. Camp Nelson Heritage National Monument is open every day of the year except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.