The Kentucky Historical Society will dedicate a historical marker to the first U.S. Colored Troops at Camp Nelson at noon Monday at Constitution Square.
In May 1864, nearly 250 black men, most of them slaves, marched from Boyle County to Camp Nelson in Jessamine County to enlist in the Union army. On the way, some Danville citizens threw stones and shot pistols at the recruits.
When they reached camp, Union Col. Andrew Clark initially refused to accept them because no policy allowed for the recruitment of slaves. Despite attempts by a few local slave owners to reclaim some of the men, the recruits were accepted into the Army, causing a Union policy change that allowed able-bodied African-American men, including slaves, to enlist. More than 5,000 U.S. Colored Troops eventually were recruited at Camp Nelson, with some of the first coming from Boyle County.
The First U.S. Colored Troops Recruits at Camp Nelson will be honored during a dedication ceremony for a Kentucky Historical Highway Marker. The marker will be unveiled by the 12th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery Regiment from Camp Nelson. James Hunn will give the dedication address.
Other guest speakers include: Boyle County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney; Danville Mayor Bernie Hunstad; State Rep. Mike Harmon; State Sen. Tom Buford; Steve McBride, site archaeologist, Camp Nelson Education and Preservation Foundation; and Stuart Sanders, professional services administrator for the Kentucky Historical Society.
Constitution Square Historic Site is located on the corner of South Second and East Main streets in Danville.
The Kentucky Historical Marker Program, administered by KHS in cooperation with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, tells Kentucky’s story through the people, places and events that have shaped local communities across the commonwealth. These markers highlight the importance of place in Kentucky’s collective history, in order to build strong communities for the future. The markers are on-the-spot history lessons that make connections between history, place and historical evidence housed in the commonwealth’s many historical organizations. Through the program, Kentucky’s history is made accessible to the public on markers along the state’s roadways and online at www.history.ky.gov/markers and via the Explore Kentucky History smartphone application available for free at iTunes and Google Play.
For more information, contact Becky Riddle, Kentucky Historical Marker program coordinator, at (502) 564-1792, ext. 4474, or firstname.lastname@example.org.