Nicholasville in Jessamine County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
General William “Bull” Nelson
Staunch Unionist and Friend of President Abraham Lincoln
—The Battle of Richmond, Kentucky —
The Nelson family counted among its friends some of the most important families in Kentucky. William Nelson, born in 1824, near Maysville, Kentucky, grew up in an atmosphere of influence and wealth. After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1846, he attained the rank of lieutenant. At the beginning of the Civil War, Nelson personally offered his help to Abraham Lincoln.
William Nelson established a recruiting camp in Kentucky at President Abraham Lincoln's request. His success earned him the rank of general. "Bull" Nelson died at the hands of a fellow officer, just weeks after his defeat at the Battle of Richmond.
Established Camp Dick Robinson
Lincoln, fully aware of his friend's influence and stature, charged Nelson with establishing a recruiting camp in Kentucky. Men eager to serve the Union flocked to Camp Dick Robinson in Garrard County. Nelson's success earned him the rank of general.
Suffered Defeat at the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky
In April 1862, Nelson commanded part of the relief force that helped save the Union army at Shiloh, Tennessee. In August, he commanded an army at the Battle of Richmond. In a last stand at Richmond Cemetery, as he desperately tried to rally his defeated men, he was shot and
Murdered by a Fellow Officer
Nelson arrived in Louisville with orders to hold the city. Soon afterward, he publicly insulted Union General Jefferson C. Davis. On September 29, 1862, Nelson slapped Davis after a second heated exchange. Davis immediately borrowed a pistol and shot Nelson in the chest, killing him.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
William Nelson was the only naval officer on either side to achieve the rank of major general. His size and belligerent attitude earned him the nickname "Bull."
National Archives and Records Administration
Camp Nelson, a Union supply depot and recruiting camp, and Camp Nelson National Cemetery, both in Jessamine County, Kentucky, were named for General William Nelson. Above: Camp Nelson. Left: The ambulance yard. Right: Soldiers in front of a barracks building.
At bottom of marker
Background: Camp Dick Robinson as depicted in Harper's Weekly Magazine, November 1, 1862.
At Bottom Right
New York Illustrated News, October 18, 1862
General Jefferson C. Davis never stood trial for killing William Nelson.
Bottom Right Corner
General Jefferson C. Davis
A Part of the Civil War Discovery Trail.
Support generously provided by:
Kentucky Department, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Nelson-Garfield Camp No. 3, Sons of Union Veterans
Sgt. Elijah P. Marrs Camp No. 5, Sons of Union Veterans
Erected by Battle of Richmond Asociation.
Location. 37° 47.139′ N, 84° 36.058′ W. Marker is in Nicholasville, Kentucky, in Jessamine County. Marker is on Camp Nelson Cemetery Road 0.3 miles east of Old Danville Road (U.S. 27), on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6998 Danville Road, Nicholasville KY 40356, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Camp Nelson National Cemetery (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Camp Nelson National Cemetery (approx. 0.3 miles away); Camp Nelson Refugee Camp / Conditions at Refugee Camp (approx. 0.4 miles away); Butler's Birthplace (approx. 0.6 miles away); Sawyier's Inspiration (approx. 0.6 miles away); John McMurtry’s Station James Thompson, 1750-1825 (approx. 8 miles away); Forks of Dix River Baptist Church (approx. 8.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Nicholasville.
Also see . . . Camp Nelson National Cemetery. (Submitted on December 9, 2013.)
Categories. • Cemeteries & Burial Sites • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 8, 2013, by Ken Smith of Milan, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 666 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on December 8, 2013, by Ken Smith of Milan, Tennessee. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on June 15, 2014, by Karl Stelly of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 8, 9. submitted on December 8, 2013, by Ken Smith of Milan, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.