Near the end of his diary, Henry Mosler noted details pertaining to the assassination of Major General William "Bull" Nelson. While thousands lost their lives in battle during the Civil War, Gen. Nelson's death was perhaps more disconcerting because of the circumstances surrounding it. He was killed after a heated exchange with another Union officer in Galt House, a luxury hotel in Louisville on September 29, 1862. His murderer bore the unlikely name of General Jefferson C. Davis. The episode was sensational.
According to Harper's Weekly, Mosler visited the hotel shortly after the episode. Part investigative reporter, part crime scene artist, Mosler depicted the incident for his editors in New York.
Ten days later, they published an engraving based on Mosler's drawings and account.
Mosler used his diary to record at least two pieces of information about Nelson's murder: a cartoon-like sketch and two pages of notes.
Mosler seemed to make some visual notes on the position of Nelson's body and the thrust of the attack. This cartoon may be the earliest draft of The Assassination of General Nelson by General Jefferson C. Davis.
In addition to a set of visual notes, Mosler made verbal ones as well. Mosler's cursive handwriting, often tight and hard to read, is larger and looser as if he jotted down the information.
Combine the medium-faded, smudged pencil in a 19th century book that was carried through a war-with his handwriting makes this passage particularly hard to decipher.
Here is a transcription of these notes:
Gen Nel walked Privey & back — Struck Jeff Davis of a question put to him on ﬁre right side of the Neck God drn him I guess he dont know who I am‒he asked Gibson whether he had a weapon Gov Morton, Gen Nelson replyed (he would remember not) Nelson struck him Davis took an attitude just if he intended to strike Nelson afterwards Davis tried to walk past where Nelson again struck him on the left cheek when [illegible] Davis said this shall not end yet occured about 9 O'clockGov Nelson stept to Gov and asked him did you come to wittness this insult to me. Sir I was asked standing here to see what —— was said -— Nel then walked to west end of the room through tin door Davis walked off appeared to be walking from Gibson who was in the east end of the room Davis passed out of the room to go to the door I observed he had a pistol in his right hand he passed out to the right and I immedietely heard the pistol I heard a struggle in the Hall and immediatly Jeff Davis appeared holding Jeff Davis illegible get held by an Officer who afterwards they were parted when someday send