Though the armies have long since disappeared, many of their trenches remain as reminders of what happened on that October day. If you visit the battlefield and stand quietly behind the trenches you may feel your heart begin to pound just like the soldiers' hearts pounded in 1861.
The battlefield looks much different from the etchings made in 1861. Most of it has been logged-over several times. A few trails lead to the faint outlines of old trenches that remain.
The remoteness of location of this battle makes it unique, because you can still see these trenches. Battlefield sites located in gentler terrain were farmed over and developed, destroying signs of the battle.
New Trail on Infantry Ridge added
Late in 2007 a new trail was completed on Infantry Ridge. The completion of this new trail will now allow easy access to the complete battlefield.
Camp Wildcat Battlefield has trails to Hoosier Knob and Robinson Spring, with more in the planning stage at this time. The trails are ideal for both nature walks and for seeing Camp Wildcat’s trenches and artillery emplacements.
The Camp Wildcat Civil War Battlefield is located in Laurel County, Kentucky, approximately eight miles north of London near the small rural community of Hazel Patch. The battlefield is located on the Wilderness Road which extended through the Cumberland Gap to Crab Orchard and westward through the Bluegrass region of Kentucky to the Ohio River.
Camp Wildcat and the associated Civil War features remain in excellent condition today. In this battle the Confederate forces, numbering an estimated 7,500 men under the command of General Felix Zollicoffer, were defeated by a Union force of approximately 5,400 men under the command of Colonel Theophilus Garrard and General Albin Shoepf. This was the first Union victory in the battle for Kentucky and one of the Union’s first victories in the Civil War.
A narrow gravel road winds its way up Wildcat Mountain and thence north bound to the river crossing on the Rockcastle River near Livingston. Here you can travel several miles along the historic Wilderness Road surrounded by woodlands and small farms much as they existed at the time of the Civil War. The Old Wilderness Road has long since been replaced by U.S. 25 and more recently by Interstate 75.
The action that occurred at Camp Wildcat was the result of the site’s location on the Wilderness Road which was the principle road through southeast Kentucky at the same time of the Civil War. The Wilderness Road extended from the Holston River Valley in Tennessee, through the Cumberland Gap to Pineville, Barberville, London and Crab Orchard to the Bluegrass areas, and the Ohio River. The road was important to both the Union and the Confederacy from the standpoint of access to both the North and the South for the control of Kentucky which attempted to remain neutral during the war. The South was concerned that Union troops being recruited would invade east Tennessee. The North worried that Confederate troops would move into Kentucky in an effort to control the Bluegrass region, thereby gaining access to the Ohio River. View maps.