National Cemetery Administration
Camp Nelson National Cemetery
Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding federal holidays.
Visitation Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk.
This cemetery has space available to accommodate casketed and cremated remains.
Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A Veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial. For more information visit our eligibility web page.
Cemetery is located 20 miles Southeast of Lexington Blue Grass Airport. From Airport take Man O' War Rd. East to Nicholasville Rd. Take a right onto Nicholasville Rd./HWY 27 South. Follow Nicholasville Rd./HWY 27 South for approximately 15 miles. The cemetery will be on your left before the Kentucky River.
Fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
In the event you are unable to reach Camp Nelson National Cemetery, please call Lebanon National Cemetery at 270-692-3390 and someone will assist you.
Military Funeral Honors
Military Funeral Honors may be obtained through your local funeral home.
If a funeral home is not involved in your arrangements, please call our office and one of our staff members will assist you in arranging for Military Funeral Honors.
For educational materials and additional information on this cemetery, please visit the Education section, located below.
Camp Nelson National Cemetery is not responsible for any items left at gravesites.
Floral arrangements (up to six) accompanying the casket or urn at the time of burial will be placed on the completed gravesite by cemetery staff. Natural cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time. They will be removed when they become unsightly or when it becomes necessary to facilitate cemetery operations such as mowing.
Temporary metal containers, provided by the cemetery, are available at various sites on cemetery grounds. Please limit one per gravesite. Cemetery provided floral containers are the only floral containers allowed in the cemetery. Perma-vases are not permitted nor are they sold at Camp Nelson.
Artificial flowers and/or potted plants, in unbreakable containers only (cardboard, plastic, metal), are permitted on gravesites from Oct. 10 until April 15. They will also be permitted on graves 10 days before and 10 days after Easter Sunday and Memorial Day.
Items are subject to removal on the first and third Fridays during mowing season, and depending on the added frequency of mowing more often, up to twice a week. Depending on the growing season, artificial flowers/potted plants may removed to accommodate the early mowing season, up to twice per week.
Christmas wreaths, grave blankets, and related arrangements will be permitted on graves from Dec. 1 until Jan. 20. Grave floral blankets may not be larger than two by three feet, please do not wrap them in plastic, as it destroys the turf.
Floral items and other decorations may not be attached to headstones or markers. Floral stands and saddles are prohibited.
Pets are prohibited in the cemetery.
National Cemeteries are not recreational parks, they are national shrines. Jogging, running or other recreational activities is not allowed.
Unauthorized decorations such as permanent plantings, statues, vigil lights, upright metal flag holders, and breakable objects of any kind and similar commemorative items are not permitted on the gravesites or on the monuments.
Understanding that families may desire to keep certain floral arrangements, we have in place a procedure that, upon the family’s written request, cemetery personnel will place the arrangement in a designated location for 30 days, after which, arrangements will be disposed of.
The staff at Camp Nelson National Cemetery want to thank you for your cooperation in helping us to make this cemetery a national shrine, a final resting place of Honor and Dignity in memory of the veterans of this great nation.
VA regulations 38 CFR 1.218 prohibit the carrying of firearms (either openly or concealed), explosives or other dangerous or deadly weapons while on VA property, except for official purposes, such as military funeral honors. Possession of firearms on any property under the charge and control of VA is prohibited. Offenders may be subject to a fine, removal from the premises, or arrest.
Camp Nelson National Cemetery is located about seven miles southeast of Nicholasville in Jessamine County, Ky. In 1866, the U.S. government appropriated approximately eight acres here to establish a cemetery. Of the original tract, about seven acres became the cemetery proper and the remainder formed a driveway extending from the main entrance to the old Danville Turnpike. An additional acre was purchased in 1874 that adjoined the southeast corner of the cemetery.
During the Civil War, Camp Nelson had an important role in supplying the U.S. Army, caring for the sick and wounded and acting as an enlistment station for African-American soldiers. The post was established in 1863 and contained numerous shops for blacksmith work and the construction of wagons and ambulances, as well as buildings for storing supplies and artillery equipment. Camp Nelson included barracks, headquarters buildings and a 700-bed hospital. There were three types of medical facilities on the post: a hospital for military prisoners; an acute general hospital; and the rehabilitation unit. In addition, Camp Nelson served as a major center for the recruitment of black soldiers of the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT). After the war, the base was designated an official refugee camp by the federal government and placed under the direction of the Freedmen’s Bureau.
By 1863, the Army had selected a small plot of land next to the hospital as a graveyard for the men who died at Camp Nelson. Life at the military camp was often harsh and men fell victim to disease and common illnesses. A total of 379 men were buried here, designated Graveyard No. 1, between June 1863 and July 1865. A second area, Graveyard No. 2, was later added; it is the present location of the national cemetery. According the cemetery records, approximately 1,180 men were buried here by February 1866.
After the end of the Civil War, the federal government initiated a program to locate and reinter Union dead in national cemeteries. As a result, in June and July 1868, a total of 2,023 remains were removed from areas in Kentucky such as Frankfort, Richmond, London and Covington and reinterred at Camp Nelson National Cemetery. Because of the camp’s significance as a USCT recruiting base, a large number of these soldiers are interred at Camp Nelson. The remains of Confederate prisoners of war originally buried at Camp Nelson National Cemetery were all removed, either to the Confederate lot in the cemetery at Nicholasville or local private cemeteries. With the exception of two graves removed from Covington and alleged to be Confederate soldiers, there are no Confederates interred at Camp Nelson.
The cemetery has been substantially expanded, although the historic section is enclosed by a stone wall and features a fully restored superintendent’s lodge built in 1870. Camp Nelson National Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
Monuments and Memorials
The Daughters of the Union erected a granite monument dedicated in the memory of Union Soldiers who fought in the Civil War around 1995.
Medal of Honor Recipients
Private William M. Harris, (Indian Campaigns) Company D, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Little Big Horn, Mont., June 25, 1876 (Section U., Grave 3).
Educational content is being developed for this national cemetery. New materials will be posted when the information becomes available. For additional information on the Veterans Legacy Program or the NCA History Program, please visit the web page for the Veterans Legacy Program and the NCA History page. Thank you for your interest in learning about the National Cemetery Administration.