Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetary
Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery is an excellent site for enthusiasts of Civil War history. The Cemetery is the final resting ground for 1,500 Confederate soldiers that passed away from various diseases during the epidemic of 1862. Located in Lonoke county Arkansas just a few miles from Cabot, visitors and Civil War enthusiasts can appreciate and enjoy a piece of American history. Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery is named after the brigadier general Allison Nelson who suffered to the same fate of a disease like the soldiers in his camp. Although the 1,500 Confederate soldiers are buried at Camp Nelson, Allison Nelson himself is buried in Little Rock’s Mount Holly Cemetery.
Backstory and Context
During the Civil War disease took the lives of soldiers just as quickly as combat did. A variety of diseases plagued both the Union and Confederate sides and showed no mercy to either one. As the Civil War broke out in 1861 it not only set the stage for a nation to collide, but at the same time created the perfect breeding ground for diseases to spread with ease. As soldiers gathered in their camps in large numbers, the opportunity for diseases like yellow fever, typhoid, cholera, measles, and mumps were able to spread in the poor living conditions of the soldiers.
Camp Hope in Arkansas was no exception to these outbreaks, and in the Fall of 1862, disease claimed the lives of 1,500 Confederate soldiers. Brigadier general Allison Nelson was among those who suffered the fate of disease, proving generals were not even exempt. These soldiers were scattered throughout the area in various locations for their final resting place. Nelson was buried in Little Rock’s Mount Holly Cemetery where he is still lies today.
The Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery was named after Allison Nelson due to his popularity during the war. Allison Nelson (1822-1862) had held many positions before his passing. Aside from his role as Brigadier general, he even held the position of Texas legislator, which attributed to his popularity. Nelson was so popular that even Camp Hope was renamed after him. Nelson had only been a brigadier general for a short amount of days before Typhoid fever claimed his life.
Confederate veterans came together years later and were able to acquire a piece of land for one dollar and later secured funds in 1905 from the state, to locate the graves of the 1,500 Confederate soldiers. Once they were located, they were then relocated to the newly acquired site bringing the soldiers together once more. These veterans held services for their fallen comrades until they too all passed away by the 1930s. From the 1930s to 1980s nature reclaimed the graves at this historical cemetery until Sergeant J. O. Isaac, who was the instructor for the Cabot High School ROTC, initiated the restoration project for the overgrown memorial.
A few groups came together and restored the landscape to its former glory and added the United States government headstones you see there still today. The state had funded the upkeep for the Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery up until the late 90s, when the state was no longer able to appropriate funds for the upkeep. Now the fate of the cemetery rests in the hands of the volunteers who keep up the landscape and maintenance of the site itself.
Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery, Cabot, inspirock. Accessed March 6th 2020. https://www.inspirock.com/united-states/cabot-arkansas/camp-nelson-confederate-cemetery-a2132183495?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Bing_DSA&msclkid=410bfb7ee20d12a4c4e9a51c703cd5bf&ad_acc=ipar
Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery, Find a Grave. January 1st 2000. Accessed March 6th 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/53316/camp-nelson-confederate-cemetery
.Polston, Mike. Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery, CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas. February 26th 2018. Accessed March 6th 2020.https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/camp-nelson-confederate-cemetery-4275/
Sesser, David. Allison Nelson (1822-1862), CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas. December 9th 2016. Accessed March 6th 2020. https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/allison-nelson-8625/
Sesser, David. Disease During The Civil War, CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas. April 5th 2016. Accessed March 6th 2020. https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/disease-during-the-civil-war-8630/
Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery, Find a Grave. January 1st 2000. Accessed March 6th 2020.