As a prominent city in one of the four "Border States," Lexington, Kentucky experienced some of the sharpest political divides in the entire country during the Civil War, as evidenced by some of the city's more prominent families. The John C. Breckinridge was a pro-Southern politician and later a Confederate general, while his uncle Robert was an ardent Unionist. At least eight sons of the wealthy Todd family fought for the South, while six of their brothers fought for the North and their sister Mary was First Lady to Abraham Lincoln himself. This is a place where brother almost literally came to fight against brother.
A heavy amount of fighting also took place around the area. The Union and Confederate armies first came to blows in the area during the Battle of Richmond, a decisive Confederate victory, and later during the Battle of Perryville, which turned the tide for the Union, and kept the city in their hands. The Lexington Cemetery, meanwhile, sought to provide a service that would trait both the overwhelming division and care for the dead by promising to take in bodies from both sides of the war, one of the first large war-time cemeteries to do so.
Camp Nelson was a major Union supply depot for the armies of the Ohio and Cumberland. It was also the third largest recruiting base for African-American soldiers in the United States, with more than ten thousand black soldiers recruited there.
What to do:
Explore the visitor center and museum.
Tour the 3-mile interpretive trail that goes through the depot section and northern line of fortifications.
Although the Civil War brought division among families and within families, the Lexington Cemetery Company maintained a position of neutrality. In addition to private family lots, the trustees provided a general "Soldier's Ground" for the burial of Union dead and a corresponding Confederate lot for the burial of Southern dead.