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Camp Joe Holt was a Union base during the American Civil War in Jeffersonville, Indiana, across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky on land that is now part of Clarksville, Indiana, where the Little Eddy emptied into the river. It was a major staging area for troops in the Western Theatre of the War, in preparation for invading the Confederate States of America.[1] It was the first major step performed by Kentucky Unionists to keep Kentucky from seceding to the Confederacy.[2]

Blanton Duncan gave his farm for use of the establishment of Camp Joe Holt.[3] It was named in honor of Joseph Holt, who became Buchanan's Secretary of War for about 60 days after John B. Floyd resigned. Holt strongly supported the Union.[4]Colonel Lovell Rousseau opened the facility in July 1861 in order to recruit Kentuckians, mostly Louisvillians, into the Union Army. A pine board with the words Camp Joe Holt was nailed into a tree by the entrance to the camp on the second day of operations by a Captain Trainor.[5]

The Camp was built in Indiana due to fears that recruiting camps in Kentucky would encourage Kentucky to secede to the Confederacy. (A Confederate state government would eventually form in Kentucky, but the Union state government never dissolved.) By early September 1861, he had recruited over 2,000 such individuals, which formed the Fifth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the Louisville Legion.[6]

The 49th Indiana Infantry was organized at Camp Joe Holt by Colonel John W. Ray, a former city councilman of Jeffersonville. Assisting him in the endeavor was the former member of the Clark Guards, Lieutenant Colonel James Keigwin. This was the only regiment formed in Clark County, Indiana.[1]

Camp Joe Holt would serve as a hospital in 1862 until Jefferson General Hospital was opened in Port Fulton, Indiana, 1.5 miles upstream.[7]

The Interpretive Center for the Falls of the Ohio State Park was built where Camp Joe Holt existed.[8]

See also

  • American Civil War fortifications in Louisville
  • Louisville in the American Civil War
  • Indiana in the American Civil War


  1. 1.0 1.1 Kramer, Carl. This Place We Call Home (Indiana University Press, 2007) p.164-5)
  2. William Franklin Gore Shanks's Personal Recollections of Distinguished Generals page 223
  4. John E. Kleber's The encyclopedia of Louisville page 395
  5. Sarles, Jane. Clarksville in Vintage Postcards (Arcadia Publishing, 2001) p. 93
  6. John E. Kleber's The encyclopedia of Louisville page 195
  7. Kramer p.168)
  8. Sarles p. 93

Coordinates: 38°16′32″N 85°45′49″W / 38.275556°N 85.763611°W / 38.275556; -85.763611

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