New York Times reports the death of William “Bull” Nelson and gives a short biography. In Louisville, Nelson dismissed general Davis from his command; in the ensuing quarrel he slapped Davis, who avenged the insult with a pistol.
The Murder of Gen. Nelson.
The otherwise unhappy condition of things in Kentucky is just now rendered still more so by the unfortunate collision between two Generals of the Union army, Gens. NELSON and DAVIS, resulting in the death of the former. The quarrel, to be sure, was private and personal; but Gen. NELSON has just been acting a very prominent part in Kentucky; he has numerous friends there, and has won great favor by his early and long devotion to the Union cause. In the present hot blood of the State, there is reason to fear the occurrence may widen into something more than a mere personal feud fatally concluded.
Gen. NELSON was a native of Mason County, Ky., and belonged to the Navy when the rebellion broke out. But he decided to devote his services to the Union cause in his native State, which he did from the beginning with a fearlessness that was exceptional and not the rule in a border State. Gov. MAGOFFIN had insultingly refused to respond to the President’s first call for troops; the State Guard of Kentucky, a secession organization in disguise, was in the hands of the traitor, Gen. BUCKNER, and the Legislature of Kentucky had not a practical working majority of two Union men in it, when General, then Lieut. NELSON, obtained permission of President LINCOLN to open a camp for the enlistment of Union soldiers in the State. He raised the old flag in Garrard County, the very heart of Kentucky, and established “Camp Dick Robinson” against the earnest remonstrance of almost every man of influence in the State, professing then to be a Unionist. But Lieut. NELSON’s indomitable pluck succeeded in winning the confidence of Kentuckians, and he mustered in, in the course of a few weeks, several thousand loyal soldiers. His camp became famous in Kentucky, in Tennessee, and in the whole country. Hundreds of persecuted East [???] fleeing from their homes, sought “Camp Dick Robinson” as a “city of refuge.” Regiments were formed there that have won undying honors in the war. Among them we may mention that of Col. SPEED S. FRY, of Danville, Ky., one of the first fruits of Lieut. NELSON’s labors. This regiment was greatly distinguished at the battle of Mill Spring, and its Colonel, it will be remembered, had the distinction of shooting Gen. ZOLLICOFFER in that engagement, which resulted so disastrously to the rebels .
It was the formation of “Camp Dick Robinson” that was assigned especially by the Confederate Government, and by Gen. Rev Bishop POLK, for the rebel occupation o Columbus and Bowling Green, Ky. The United States Government, urged these audacious rebel authorities, had “violated the neutrality of Kentucky, by establishing a National garrison at Camp Dick Robinson.!’” Among the first outbreaks of secession sympathisers in Kentucky, occurred in Lexington, in the attempt of guerrillas, as they are since styled, to intercept the shipment of artillery and small arms to Lieut. NELSON’s Union camp.
When the force recruited at “Camp Dick Robinson” became large enough to justify brigading, an officer of proper rank was sent thither, who, of course, at once superseded Lieut. NELSON. But the latter was not to be kept out of active work. He immediately returned to Mason, his native county, established another Union camp, and commenced anew the very work he had performed at “Camp Dick Robinson.” But this time the President would not allow him to be superseded. He was appointed an officer in the volunteer service, served in Eastern Kentucky in a campaign against “Cerro Gordo” WILLIAMS, was transferred to Louisville, and finally was promoted to the command of a division under Gen. BUELL in the advance into Tennessee. He participated in the bloody battle of Shiloh with distinction, and was frequently pressed on the attention of the Government for a Major-Generalship.
Gen. NELSON was recently returned to Kentucky to aid in the expulsion of the rebels. He had command at Richmond when the unfortunate battle was lately fought near there But the fight was brought on contrary to his orders. He did not reach the ground till the Union forces were broken and in disorderly retreat. He behaved most gallantly in his attempt to rally the men, plunging into the thickest of the fire to give them courage. But all in vain, Gen. NELSON was wounded, and left the field to the victorious enemy. At a still later day, Gen. NELSON was assigned, to the command of the forces for the defence of Louisville. We have censured his action in that post as manifesting too much excitement and inconsiderateness. But it is due to his memory to say, that the Louisville papers bear abundant evidence that those most deeply interested in the fate of that city, heartily approved and sustained Gen. NELSON, and expressed to the latest the utmost confidence in him.
We regret to have to add that, with all his virtue of loyalty and courage, Gen. NELSON had a rude and offensive personal deportment that was over involving him in enmities. The events that brought about his death sufficiently attest this unpardonable blemish in his character, and will go far to exempt the fact of his killing from the usual regrets and sympathies that attend such a melancholy homicide.
Gen. JEFF. C, DAVIS, who has so terribly avenged the wrong he felt he had received from Gen. NELSON, is a soldier of high character and capacity. He has served in Missouri principally since the rebellion broke out. He was noted for his successful handling of men in various marches and manoeuvres under Gen. FREMONT, and his skill and courage have not, as we are aware, ever been called in question.
All this, however, cannot excuse or palliate for a single moment, the terrible outrage of which he has been guilty. Unless our army is to degenerate into a mob, where unbridled rapine bears sole sway, his crime must meet a swift and relentless penalty.