Camp Breckinridge was named in honor of Vice President John Cabell Breckinridge, a Lexington native, who served with President James Buchanan from 1857 – 1861. John Breckinridge was also a U.S. senator and sided with the slaveholding faction of Kentucky in 1861. He joined the Confederate Army as a brigadier general and within a year he was promoted to major general. During the final year of the Civil War, Breckinridge served as the Secretary of War for the Confederacy. He returned to Kentucky in 1868, following the amnesty agreement extended by President Andrew Johnson.
Camp Breckinridge was built amid the Second World War to house prisoners of war. The camp was activated on December 15th, 1942, and within a year, the first prisoner of war was transported there. Camp Breckinridge was built to hold up to 3,000 prisoners. During WWII, the peak number of POWs on site was 1,314; most of the prisoners were noncommissioned officers and enlisted men of the German army. By April of 1946, the last 340 POWs were transferred to Camp Campbell, which is also in Kentucky. That same week, Camp Breckinridge was left abandoned. The Camp did not reopen until 1950 except for a brief 9 months during 1948, when Camp Breckinridge housed the 101st Airborne Division.
In 1950, Camp Breckinridge was reactivated as a training center for men drafted for the Korean War. The camp served in this capacity until the conclusion of the Korean War in 1954. Up until 1962, Camp Breckinridge was used for the summer training of about 4,500 Reserve and National Guard troops. The training was transferred to other camps, and, in an effort to save the Department of Defense $600,000, Camp Breckinridge was declared surplus. Today, Camp Breckinridge houses a military museum and art center.
Marker #1424 was dedicated in 1971 by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Department of Highways. It reads: Camp Breckinridge. Army post built in 1942, on 36,000 acres, at a cost of $39,000,000. Named for John C. Breckinridge, US Vice President, 1856-60; Confederate Secretary of War, 1865. Created as infantry training center for up to 40,000 men. Used during WW II, 1943-46, as prisoner of war camp for as many as 3,000 enlisted men of German Army. Camp deactivated in 1949. Over.
(Reverse) Camp Breckinridge. During Korean War, 1950-54, camp reopened for training of infantry. From 1954 to 1963 used for summer training of 4,500 National Guard troops. Disposal of camp by Army began in 1963. Dept. of Labor obtained 853 acres for Job Corps Training Center opened in 1965. Remaining acreage acquired by individuals, city of Morganfield and state of Kentucky. Over.