Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Death of Nelson (9/29/1862 Part 2)

The death of Major-General William "Bull" Nelson, who had led the Seventeenth Kentucky from Shiloh to Pulaski, occurred on this day in 1862 and deserves a separate announcement on this blog.

The following summary is taken from Wikipedia.

In social situations Nelson was genial and entertaining, but whenever he thought someone was shirking their military duty he would too often erupt into a volcanic rage.During the defense of Louisville in September 1862 that disdain for lackadaisical behavior led Nelson to angrily dismiss Brig. General Jefferson C. Davis. One week later Davis was publicly humiliated by Nelson when he thoughtlessly confronted him in the lobby of the Galt House. The unexpected embarrassment caused Davis to lose control and he killed the unarmed Nelson with a single shot to the heart. Davis was never prosecuted for the cold-blooded murder, and both generals became better noted for that affair rather than the otherwise commendable service they gave to their country.[1]


No. 47a. Louisville, September 29, 1862.

The general commanding announces with inexpressible regret the death of Major General William Nelson, which occurred in this city at 8.30 o'clock this morning.

The deceased was bred a sailor, and was an officer of the Navy, while holding a commission in the military service. History will honor him as one of the first to organize, by his individual exertion, a military force in Kentucky, his native State, to rescue her from the vortex of rebellion, toward which she was drifting.He was a man of extensive information, comprehensive views, and great energy and force of character. By his nature he was intolerant of disobedience or neglect of public duty; but no man was more prompt to recognize and foster merit in his inferiors, and in his own conduct he set an example of that vigilance, industry, and prompt attention to duty which he exacted from others. In battle his example was equally marked. On more than one field-at Shiloh, Richmond, and Ivy Mountain-he was conspicuous for his gallant bearing.

The funeral of the deceased will take place at 3 p.m. to-morrow, at Cavalry Church, Third street.

By command of Major-General Buell:
Colonel and Chief of Staff.

The reorganization that followed marked the end of a terribly confusing day at Louisville and oddly culminated in a meeting at the Galt House, the site of Nelson's death only 12 hours prior.

Ref.:  ibid


No. 158. Louisville, September 29, 1862.

I. Following organization of corps is announced and will be observed until further orders, viz:

First Corps.-Major General A. McD. McCook commanding; Second Division (McCook's), Third Division (Rousseau's), Tenth Division (Jackson's).

Second Corps.-Major General T. L. Crittenden commanding; Fifth Division (Crittenden's), Sixth Division (Wood's), Fourth Division (Smith's).

Third Corps.- Major General C. C. Gilbert commanding; First Division (Schoepf's), Ninth Division (Mitchell's), Eleventh Division (Boyle's).

Division commanders will report in person to their corps commanders, and commanders of corps will report to the general commanding at the Galt House at 9 o'clock this evening.
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