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An illustration of Camp Dick Robinson on November 1, 1862.

Camp Dick Robinson

Site ID: 15Gd87

Military; Depot
Kentucky Archaeological Survey
Unless specified, we cannot provide site location information.


​​​​​​Prior to the relocation of US Highway 27, archaeologists investigated the remains of a Civil War camp on a farm owned by Richard Robinson. The camp, named after the landowner, was established by Union sympathizers in 1861 at the onset of the war. The US Government used the camp to recruit and train Kentucky troops, and it served as a staging area for several Union troop movements in Kentucky. Confederate troops​ briefly occupied the camp​​ during their retreat after the Battle of Perryville in 1862. ​Camp Nelson in nearby Jessamine County replaced Camp Dick Robinson in 1863, ​and the camp was officially decommissioned in 1865. Examination of intact latrine trenches, trash pits, and postholes indicated that the area investigated was the site of a short-term, secondary encampment located just outside the main camp.​

Fully exposed latrine trench.


​Based on the location and arrangement of the latrine trenches and trash pits, waste disposal areas at the camp were behind the main living areas, as required​ by US Army camp regulations. Archaeologists were able to determine that soldiers had occupied this particular encampment area on two separate occasions, and that officers and enlisted men had used separate latrines. Although these latrines were usually open-air, postholes found near the trenches indicated that perhaps screens were constructed to provide some privacy for the soldiers. 

The presence of animal bone, broken dish and bottle fragments, nails, and clothing items in the latrine trenches revealed that soldiers had used them for trash disposal during and after they no longer served as latrines. Although investigations found some military artifacts, such as bullets and artillery ammunition, the lack of military buttons, buckles, and other accoutrements suggested that the encampment was occupied by new recruits with new uniforms and equipment. Plant remains and animal bones found in these features indicated that the soldiers ate corn, beans, barley, and beef supplied by the Army. However, the soldiers also supplemented their diet with tomatoes, berries, pork, chicken, and eggs from local farms.​

Partially excavated latrine.

What's Cool?

Epidem​ic at the Camp​

Although the trenches were clearly dug for use as latrines, only small amounts of primary waste were found. The trenches were filled mostly with secondary trash, such as food remains, broken dishes and bottles, hearth cleanings, and soil. This indicated that the encampment area was occupied only for a brief period and that perhaps the soldiers had broken camp earlier than anticipated. 

Given the short occupation span and the fact that the encampment was located outside of the main camp area, it is possible that this area was associated with a documented measles epidemic that struck the camp in September 1861.  According to a newspaper article, orders were given to segregate infected soldiers from healthy soldiers, clean up the camp, and evacuate unaffected regiments. 

One of the latrine trenches contained hundreds of bones from a horse, which may represent an effort to clean-up the camp and quickly dispose of anything camp residents thought might promote disease - such as a recently deceased horse. Archaeological remains suggested that soldiers quickly cleaned up and abandoned this encampment, which may have been associated with one of the unaffected regiments that were ordered to evacuate that camp.

Butchered horse bone from the latrine trench.

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