William "Bull" Nelson


William "Bull" Nelson (September 27, 1824 – September 29, 1862) was a U.S. Navy officer and later a Union general in the American Civil War who commanded the Army of Kentucky. He holds the distinction of being the only naval officer to achieve the rank of major general on either side of the Civil War. He was shot and killed by a fellow Union general, Jefferson C. Davis, during an argument in 1862.

The son of a physician, Nelson was born near Maysville, Kentucky, and attended Norwich Academy. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a midshipman on January 28, 1840, and achieved the rank of lieutenant by 1855. While in the navy, he commanded a battery at the Siege of Veracruz in 1847, served in the Mediterranean and the South Pacific, and in 1858, as commander of the Niagara, transported to Africa the negroes who had been rescued from the slave ship Echo. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was placed in command of the gunboats on the Ohio River.

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