Preview: David A. Clark, “The Notorious ‘Bull’ Nelson”

22 02 2011

Over the weekend Southern Illinois University Press sent me a copy of a new release, The Notorious “Bull” Nelson, Murdered Civil War General, by Donald A. Clark. William Nelson is famous for three things, mainly: he was the only naval officer on either side to become a major-general during the Civil War; he was, well, fat; and he was murdered by Jefferson Davis – Union Brigadier General Jefferson C. Davis, that is.

There’s more to his story, and Clark tells it in 166 pages of text and another 44 of notes. He brings into sharper focus Nelson’s genealogy and pre-Civil War career and his role in rallying loyal Kentuckians to the Union cause. And of course the lead-up to his murder and its aftermath are thoroughly examined as well. The 29 page bibliography includes quite a few unpublished manuscript sources.