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Archaeological survey of an area where a skirmish occurred.

Camp Wildcat

Site ID: 15Ll131 and 15Ll132

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


​The remains of the first Civil War engagement of regular troops in Kentucky occur at Camp Wildcat. Union forces established the camp on the high, rough terra​in of Wildcat Mountain in the late summer of 1861. It was located at the junction of the Wilderness Road and a north-south road that connected Lexington and Richmond with the Cumberland Gap. Confederate forces began an attack on the camp on the morning of October 21, 1861 at Hoosier Knob and mounted a second attack in the afternoon toward Infantry Ridge and up the Wilderness Road. By evening, the battle was over and the unsuccessful Confederates withdrew. 

Today, much of the encampment and battle area are within Daniel Boone National Forest and are protected and interpreted by the U. S. Forest Service and the Camp Wildcat Preservation Foundation. Archaeological surveys have helped identify areas that need protection and interpretation.​

Metal detector survey.


​Archaeologists have carried out several surveys and limited excavation projects within the Camp Wildcat site. Some of these studies have focused on specific trails.  Others have covered large parts of the battlefield. These investigations have recorded entrenchment features at Hoosier’s Knob, and recovered Civil War-related artifacts, such as cut nails, bottle glass, whiteware, and animal bone, from where soldiers camped; and bullets (Minie balls and .32 cal. balls), percussion caps, and melted lead from the various skirmishes before the battle and during the battle itself.​

Excavating units at Camp Wildcat.

What's Cool?

Mapping Battle Lines

Precise mapping of bullets where a pre-battle skirmish occurred documented two discrete linear bullet clusters. They are best explained as representing the places where lines of troops stood during the skirmish.

It is important to map these historic patterns, since the large flat area where the skirmish occurred is used today for reenactments and other interpretive events. Historic patterns could become harder to distinguish should reenactors drop modern artifacts during these events.
Civil War bullets recovered from Camp Wildcat.

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