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Camp Charity

In September 1861 Kentucky’s neutrality crumbled and the Commonwealth was forced to choose sides. The struggle in Frankfort between the pro-Confederate governor and the pro-Union legislature was won by the legislature who demanded that the Confederate troops in Columbus unilaterally withdraw. The Confederates refused and Kentucky officially became a Union state. Frankfort’s decision forced the pro-Confederate State Guard to act.

John Hunt Morgan was in command of the Lexington Rifle’s who were part of the State Guard. On evening of Friday September 20, 1861 Morgan loaded all of the arms and ammunition onto two wagons and sent them toward Lawrenceburg. Under the cover of darkness the men followed beginning their journey to join the Confederacy.

On September 22, 1861 Morgan’s company encamped on a farm near Bloomfield on the Middle Branch of Simpson’s Creek. Here the Rifle’s were joined by the Nelson Grays, a State Guard company from Bardstown. The campsite was probably chosen by Capt. John C. Wickliffe commander of the Grays. Wickliffe chose the site because the farm was owned by a southern sympathizer and he knew the would be soldiers could count on the farmers support. The men were allowed to camp for free, the creek provided water for man and beast and the people of the community supplied food. In recognition, the grateful men dubbed it Camp Charity.

Morgan and the others stayed at Camp Charity about a week. From Nelson County the men made their way to Bowling Green. It was at Bowling Green that they joined the Confederate army. The Nelson Grays became part of the 9th Kentucky Infantry Regiment, which was to become part of the famous Orphan Brigade. The Lexington Rifles became "Morgan’s Squadron" and later part of 2nd Kentucky Cavalry, one of the regiments that became Morgan’s command.