|The legal tender act of February 25, 1862. Statutes at Large, 12:345.|
|Cooke's financial network included about 2,500 bankers, insurance brokers, real estate dealers, and others who, for a commission, sold U.S. government bonds directly to citizens. Larson, Jay Cooke, 125|
|Signified by McClellan's withdrawal to Harrison's Landing, Va., on July 3, 1862. Long, Civil War Day by Day, 236|
Autograph letter. Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (micro 23:0455).
Washington, Oct. 23, 1862.
A paragraph in the public prints states that Brigadier General Jefferson C. Davis, who lately shot and killed Major General William Nelson has been released from arrest, without trial, & ordered to duty.1
I cannot think that this action has received your sanction; and, as I may not be able to see you today, I respectfully ask, in this way, your attention to it.
Under no circumstances whatever, in my judgment, can personal violence by one officer to another--much less the killing of one officer by another,--be passed over without the arrest and trial of the offender, except at the cost of serious detriment to the service & serious injury to the respect due to you as Commander in Chief.
I know nothing of the case immediately under consideration, except what every body knows who reads the journals of the day. If there are other facts which justify the action taken, ought they not to have been made known through the regular proceedings of a Court Martial in order to satisfy the public mind that the action is really warranted?
The published facts, certainly, do not seem to warrant it. There was a grievous insult from Nelson to Davis, for which Nelson might have been properly held to answer. It was not instantly that he was shot;-- but Davis walked to another part of the room; borrowed a pistol; returned to find Nelson; followed him into the hall of the Hotel;2 called on him to defend himself; and, without giving him an opportunity to do so, fired on & killed him. These circumstances, I think, imperatively demand a Court Martial. Under the Common Law the act is murder; under our law, manslaughter; under both, a crime.
The offence whatever it may have been, upon these facts alone, under martial law, was aggravated, in the particular case, by the circumstances that Nelson was the superior officer of Davis, and was, at the moment, the Commanding General at an important post.
It may be said that Nelson was imperious, overbearing, arrogant, insulting. These assertions would be proper for the consideration of a Court Martial; but certainly they are not to be received as grounds for dispensing with a trial.