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    GENERAL "BULL" NELSON'S DOUBLE PRESENTATION 1860 COLT ARMY REVOLVER SERIAL NUMBER 7118. Inscribed on the front strap "Gen'l Wm Nelson to W.T. Scott". William Nelson was from a prominent Marysville, Kentucky family. He attended the Norwich Academy and later the Annapolis Naval Academy. Nelson became a midshipman in 1840 abroad the Yorktown in the Pacific. In 1844 he was assigned to the Home Squadron Seeing Service on the sloops of war Falmouth and Vandalia. During the Mexican War, he served on the frigate Raritan, which was Commodore Connor's flagship. At Vera Cruz in 1847, Nelson commanded one of the three guns on the steamer Scourge. For his gallantry and skill as an artillerist, he was awarded a sword and appointed Acting Master of the Scourge. In 1857, he accompanied Commodore Petty on the Japan and China Expedition. He later was appointed Commander of the ship Niagara, which returned African natives to Africa after being taken from the slave ship Echo.

    At the outset of the Civil War Lieutenant Nelson was at the Washington Navy yard. At this time he made several studies of the political mood in Kentucky and took his finding to President Lincoln. A passage from the Register of Kentucky State Historical Society, 1906 states: "He and the President became great friends, and he was directed to remain at the seat of government and soon was sent to Kentucky as a man of capacity, energy and incorruptible patriotism. To him belongs the credit of having kept Kentucky in the Union, saving her 75,000 volunteers to the National flag, spared the Ohio border the terrible shock of contending armies, and transferred the theatre of war hundreds of miles southward, to the banks of the Cumberland and the Tennessee."

    Nelson was appointed Brigadier General on September 16, 1861 while still holding his rank in the U.S. Navy. He saw field service at Shiloh in April 1862. The register of the Kentucky State Historical Society continues "In a pre-eminent sense he was the savior of Grants Army at the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, and should have a monument on that historic field."

    Nelson was promoted to major General on July 19, 1862. At the battle of Richmond, he was defeated by Kirby Smith's forces. General Nelson was wounded in this battle, but was back in command by September 20, doing all he could to prevent the capture of Louisville. A quote from the Filson Club History Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 4 states: "Under the circumstances, many of the people became highly excited, some panic stricken. Local volunteer companies enlisted to defend the city and began drilling. Raw recruits poured in from states to the North-Ohio, Indiana, Illinois-in a great confusion. Major General William Nelson, called the 'Bull' came in to take charge of the city's defenses. He raged like a lion, swore like a pirate, and drove as relentlessly as Simon Legree; but things began to move...Nelson dove like a Juggernaut...Nelson swore that he would burn the city to the ground before he would surrender it."

    In an altercation which arose at the Galt House in Louisville between General Nelson and General Jefferson Davis, Davis shot Nelson, and the latter died at the Galt House, Louisville, Kentucky September 29, 1826. General Davis was arrested, but was not brought to trial. There is no record of General Davis expressing any regret of this incident.

    The occasion of the presentation from General Nelson to his Adjutant W.T. Scott is not known, but they were both in Louisville in September of 1862. This is likely the time of the presentation.

    CONDITION: Smooth cleaned metal, with very light scattered pitting and staining. Brass triggerguard retains approximately 60% original tarnished silver plate. The cylinder retains 40-50% of the Naval Battle scene. The grips are modern replacements and in fine condition. All serial numbers match. The hammer will not hold at full cock. One triggerguard screw is missing. The bore is good with very light pitting and stains.

    Provenance: Historic Arms and Militaria catalog, Summer 2000
    James Julia Auction, October 2004

    A large archive of research material accompanies this lot.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2007
    1st Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,417

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