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Collection - Wilbur Nelson Papers (c.00159)

Wilbur Nelson of Arcadia Township, Clinton County, Michigan, served in the 8th Michigan Infantry from 1861 to 1863. He was promoted from sergeant to second lieutenant on January 1, 1863. In late November 1863, Wilbur was wounded in action and resigned. In March 1864, he accepted a commission as Captain in the 102nd U.S. Colored Infantry (in the Civil War, black troops served in segregated units commanded by white officers). When the war ended Nelson returned to Michigan, opened a store, and married Cornelia Church. This collection consists of Nelson's war diaries, several transcriptions, a narrative describing Nelson's war experiences, and a muster roll. Nelson wrote his diaries in shorthand. The collection includes his typed and handwritten transcriptions of the 1864 diary (original at archives), and a typed transcription of Nelson's diary for 1865 (the original is not included in the collection). There is also a narrative, written by Nelson's grandson Gaylord Nelson, that is based on Wilbur Nelson's diary for 1863 and his correspondence (which are not included in the collection). The muster roll for Company J, 102nd Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, dated February 14, 1864, lists the name, age, and rank of Nelson's soldiers. An image of Wilbur Nelson is available from the Archives of Michigan here.
Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections

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