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Louis Napoleon Nelson, 1846 – 1934….7th Tennessee Cavalry, Co. M

Posted by Pete | Posted in News | Posted on 17-10-2017

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A few days ago someone entered the name of Louis Napoleon Nelson on my search engine, one of the things that is recorded for me to see in my C/panel recap summary. Now I had no information on Louis Napoleon Nelson so I Goggled him. The results were very interesting:

Louis Napoleon Nelson, born in Ripley, Lauderdale County, Tennessee in 1846 and died August 26, 1934. Louis served in an integrated unit for the Confederacy; The 7th Tennessee Cavalry, Company M. Louis is a well known Ripley native due to the efforts of his  grandson, Nelson Winbush. (We might have more on him in a later post.) Nelson went to war with the sons of his owner, James Oldham, as their bodyguard. At first Louis served as a cook and look out, but he later saw action under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Louis also went on to serve as a Chaplain. Louis could not read nor write, but he memorized the King James Bible. He went on to serve as Chaplain for the next 4 campaigns, leading services with the soldiers before they went to the battlefield. He fought in battles at Shiloh, Lookout Mountain, Brice’s Crossroads, and Vicksburg. After the war Louis lived as a freeman on the James Oldham plantation for several years. He built a yellow, two story house, with a wraparound porch in Ripley. Throughout the years Louis went to 39 Confederate reunions proudly wearing his Civil War uniform. When Louis Napoleon Nelson passed away a Confederate flag draped his coffin. According to a story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper in 1933 Louis described himself as the only colored Democrat in Lauderdale County, TN. His funeral the following year, which included a military procession, was described as “the largest colored folks funeral we had ever seen in our time.” Today his story lives on through his grandson Nelson Winbush, who proudly proclaims his grandfather’s legacy.

As published on Black Ripley, The Histories of African Americans in Ripley, TN and the Surrounding Areas…..www.findagrave.com

So to whoever entered the name of Louis Napoleon Nelson in my search engine, thank you. I’m sure there was nothing in hesterbooks.com on him at that time…..Well sir, there is now…..And a thank you to grandson Nelson Winbush for his efforts on Louis Napoleon Nelson.

Comments (2)

It was an interesting read to read about Louis Napoleon Nelson. He was a great man who did his duty in a very trying and difficult time. The read left me to wondering how he memorized the Bible when he couldn’t read or write. Most illiterate persons who memorize the Bible, or any other book, do so by having someone read it to them regularly. There must have been someone who spent a lot of time with him teaching him the Scriptures, otherwise it seems such large scale memorization would seem impossible. Those of us who learned to read and write very early in life often do use reading and writing as a crutch. Had those skills been removed, the skill of memorization would have been developed just as it was in the case of Nelson, and as it was in the early days before the Bible was written, and it was conveyed from one generation to the next by word of mouth, that is the oral tradition, out of which the written Scriptures sprang.

Good point on memorizing the bible. I’m sure someone had to have spent many hours reading to him from the bible to accomplish that feat. Thanks, Errol

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