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A Lion-Hearted Officer

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Carl D. Williams Jr.
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Adobe Digital Editions
Adobe DRM [Hard-DRM]

A Lion-Hearted Officer from Albany, Georgia.
On 28 April 1861 a fortnight after the Federal surrender at Fort Sumter, Private Thomas M. Nelson was among eighty-three volunteers assembled at the Albany, Georgia railroad depot ready to defend the Confederate cause. The twenty-eight year old doctor had been assigned to Company E of the 4th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment and was enroute to Richmond, Virginia.

Upon arriving in Virginia, Dr. Thomas M. Nelson was named surgeon of the 4th Georgia, though he would never fight with the unit. For unknown reasons, Nelson resigned his position in November and returned to Albany.

In April 1862, an independent cavalry company was formed called Nelsons Rangers, with the former surgeon as its Captain. Eventually there were more than 130 men in the company, including many friends and four of Nelsons nephews.

In mid-August, Nelsons Rangers escorted Major General E. Kirby Smiths 19,000 Army of Kentucky as they marched from Knoxville, Tennessee to drive the Federal Army of the Ohio out of Kentucky.

1863 through 1864 Captain Thomas M. Nelson And his Rangers served as personal cavalry escort for Commander Lieutenant General Stephen D. Lee. They fought against Grants and Shermans Armies throughout Central Mississippi and Northern Alabama. Due to his successful leadership, Captain Nelson was promoted to a Lieutenant Colonel. Later Nathan B. Forrest reported that Thomas M. Nelson was a Lion-Hearted Officer.

His story takes place during only three years of his life. He was a brother, uncle, family man, friend, doctor, Cavalry Captain, and father. A man who started the War as a private and ended it as a Lieutenant Colonel and who became a leader of men!

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