Committee seeks to preserve Camp Dick
as Kentucky Civil War interpretative site
Gov. Beriah Magoffin, trying to maintain Kentucky’s neutral role in the Civil War, complained in 1861 to President Abraham Lincoln about the establishment of Camp Dick Robinson.
The governor declared that the camp, being used as a staging ground for the Commonwealth’s first Union regiments, was in violation of Kentucky’s Civil War status.
Lincoln, however, disagreed. He stated that the camp “consisted exclusively of Kentuckians” and that it was not the “popular wish of Kentucky” to close it. As a result, he refused to remove the soldiers.
Camp Dick was established on the farm of Richard Robinson in August 1861 by Union officer and Maysville native William “Bull” Nelson. The Garrard County acreage was used as a recruiting camp and was instrumental in keeping Kentucky in the Union. Later, the site became a staging ground for several early military campaigns.
In 1862, Confederates took the area, renamed it Camp Breckinridge, and used the site as a supply base. That October, the Rebels fell back to Perryville to stay between Union forces and those supplies, which resulted in the Battle of Perryville.
Recently, a group of historians expressed interest in a tract of land near the former camp they sought as an interpretative site for the former Civil War facility. More than 50 people from Garrard, Madison, Boyle, Fayette and Jessamine Counties met to explore such possibilities. The land is located at the junction of U.S. 27 and Ky. 34.
The Garrard County Historical Society, the Battle of Lancaster Committee and the Madison County Civil War Roundtable sponsored the meeting along with the Garrard County Economic Development authority.
Richard Robinson, a Union supporter who was involved in the home guard, allowed the federal government to use his farmland as a campground. The boundary of the camp was in a half-mile radius in either direction of the farm and stretched from the junction of U.S. 27 and Ky. 34 to Burnt Cabin near Bryantsville, according to a local historian. It contained more than 3,300 acres in northern Garrard County.
Stuart Sanders of the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort and member of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, noted that the camp was where the 1st Kentucky Cavalry was formed. It also was the first important Union recruiting ground in Kentucky, and when taken over by the Confederate Army in 1862, more than 2,500 Confederate soldiers were recruited and trained at the camp, which was renamed Camp Breckinridge.
When the Confederate Army left, the men burned all of the supplies and went south to Tennessee. The Union Army then used it as a camping ground where soldiers could rest, then move on, Sanders said.
A deed shows Robinson bought 425 acres of land for $80 per acre and had stock, mules, store buildings, a large hotel, storehouse, blacksmith and fence located there. Soldiers were said to have ruined the property by cutting trees and destroying fences and buildings, according to a claim filed against the federal government by Robinson. The government claimed Robinson was not a good businessman and refused to pay him. A house on the site previously was owned by the William Hoskins family, and also was used as a hemp factory.