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Civil War Soldiers - Nelson
|Nelson, William, major-general, U.S.
Army, was born near Maysville, Ky., in 1825. He entered the United
States navy as midshipman, Jan. 28, 1840, commanded a battery at the
siege of Vera Cruz in the Mexican war, and afterwards served in the
Mediterranean. He was promoted master in 1854, lieutenant in 1855, and
in 1858 commanded the "Niagara," in which he carried back to Africa
the negroes that had been taken from the slaver "Echo." Early in 1861
he was serving in Washington, and on July 16 he was promoted
lieutenant-commander and had charge of the gunboats on the Ohio river.
He was instrumental in raising recruits for the Union army in Kentucky
and Tennessee, and on Sept. 16, he was appointed brigadier-general of
volunteers. On Nov. 8, he engaged with two Ohio regiments, reinforced
by detachments from several Kentucky regiments, in checking the
advance of Col. John S. Williams on Prestonburg, and was successful in
forcing the Confederate leader back into Virginia. He was then ordered
to join the column in front of Louisville in command of a division
under Gen. Buell, and he took a conspicuous part as commander of his
division at the battle of Shiloh, where Buell's army was the first to
join Gen. Grant. He was defeated at Richmond, Ky., and wounded in the
engagement, commanded Louisville when that city was threatened by
Bragg, and on July 17, 1862, was promoted major-general of volunteers.
In an altercation which arose at the Galt House in Louisville between
Gen. Nelson and Gen. Jefferson C. Davis, Davis shot Nelson, and the
latter died at the Galt House, Louisville, Ky., Sept. 29, 1862. Davis
was arrested but was never brought to trial.
Source: The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal
States 1861-1865, Volume 8 Biographical, 1908