John Clifford Nelson was born 10 May 1847 in Gasque, Baldwin County, Alabama. John Clifford was the son of Elisha Nelson and Elizabeth (Eliza) Jane Fulford, daughter of Clifford Fulford and Alice Ann Fulford, daughter of Capt. John Fulford and Abigail Williston. Elisha Nelson was the son of Joseph A. Nelson, Sr. and Abigail Styron, daughter of Samuel Styron (Revolutionary War Patriot) and Hannah Hamilton Hill.
John Clifford Nelson was named for his maternal grandfather, Clifford Fulford and for his maternal grandmother, Alice Ann Fulford's brother John Clifford Fulford.
On January 20, 1862 six months into his fourteenth year John Clifford Nelson enlisted in Co. K, 25th Alabama Infantry Regiment as a private. In April, 1862 during the Battle of Shiloh he was severely wounded. The records for the month of April, 1862 show that he was absent on sick furlough for the entire month. A muster roll for this organization dated September, 1863 shows that he was promoted to 3rd Corporal. On December 15, 1864 he was captured near Nashville, Tennessee. He was sent to the Military Prison at Louisville, Kentucky, where he remained until December 20, 1864 when he was sent to Camp Douglas, Illinois. On March 23, 1865 he was transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland where he remained until June 15, 1865 when he was released. He walked home to Gasque depending on the kindness of the impoverished Southerners along the way for sustenance
The 25th Alabama Infantry Regiment was organized in December, 1861 at Mobile where it remained for two or three months. Sent to Tennessee it was placed in the brigade of Brigadier General A. H. Gladden with the 19th, 22nd, 39th and 50th Alabama Regiments. At Shiloh the brigade was in the Wither's Division of Bragg's Corps. The regiment loss was 15 killed and 75 wounded. It took part in Bragg's Kentucky Campaign without any loss. At Murpfreesboro the regiment was in Loomis's Brigade, Wither's Division, Polk's Corps. Its loss in this battle was 13 killed, 88 wounded and 16 missing out of the 250 present for duty. At Chickamauga the brigade loss was 123 killed, 578 wounded and 28 missing. At Missionary Ridge the brigade's loss was 76 killed, 476 wounded and 1,124 missing. At the Battle of New Hope, Georgia the regiment was commended for bravery. On July 22 at the Battle of Atlanta, the regiment loss was 49% of its force, but captured two stands of colors and more prisoners than it numbered. At Jonesboro, Franklin, and Columbia the regiment lost heavily. At Nashville the regiment was cut up but retreated in good order. The regiment then moved into North Carolina where it took part in the battles of Kinston and Betonville. It surrendered at Goldsboro with 75 men present for duty. The two Northern prison camps in which John Clifford Nelson were imprisoned were among the worst. Camp Douglas was located at Chicago. The Confederate prisoners were allowed to have only one suit of clothing and one thin blanket. The prison was simply a large clearing surrounded by a high fence into which were crowded 5,000 prisoners. There were no buildings or shelters of any kind. The inmates had to build small huts, tents or burrows in the ground. Southerners not used to the extreme cold died by the thousands. The mortality rate was about 10 % per month. Point Lookout was even worse 15,000 Confederate prisoners were crowded into this prison and the guards were Negroes.
"The camp was on a point of land formed by the junction of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay on the north side of the river. There were 20 acres of ground surrounded by a high board fence probably about 14 feet high. The punishment for trying to escape was cruel. Those who were caught were strung up to a pole by the thumbs.
The water was brackish and unpleasant, the pumps were always surrounded by a thirsty crowd of from 40 to 50 prisoners each with his tin cup trying to wedge his way in that he might quench his thirst.
The food while good was very scant. Breakfast consisted of coffee and a small loaf of bread. The dinners consisted of a tin cup of soup and a small piece of meat. There was no other meal. The hospitals were crowded all the time. Most of those who went to the hospital died. There were twelve men to a tent, who when they slept arranged themselves in a circle like the spokes of a wagon wheel with their feet toward the center." 1
On 16 Sept 1867 John Clifford Nelson married Nancy Bradley Nelson at the home of her father, David Wallace Nelson and her mother, Louisa Nelson. They were married by Joseph D. Nelson, Justice of the Peace. David Wallace Nelson was the son of David Nelson and Elizabeth Nelson of Carteret County, North Carolina and Louisa was the daughter of Rev. Thomas Nelson and Katurah Hall, daughter of Simon and Phoebe Hall of Portsmouth, North Carolina. Nancy Bradley Nelson was named for her great aunt, Nancy Hall Bradley, sister of Katurah Hall Nelson, Nancy’s grandmother.
John Clifford and Nancy made their home in Gasque (Shell Banks) where he was a merchant and a farmer. According to his daughter Mabel Nelson Calhoun he had schooners that supplied goods along the Alabama, Mississippi and Florida coast.
John Clifford and Nancy were the parents of four children:
They were all born in Gasque, Baldwin County, Alabama.
- Virginia Nelson, b 15 Oct 1868, d 16 Oct 1949, m 1888 Edward W. Strong.
- John Clifford Nelson, Jr., b 10 Jan 1886, d 1942, m Alice Nelson.
- Joseph Boyles Johnson (adopted), b 02 Dec 1871, d 21 Oct 1948, m 1897 Leola Ross Nelson.
- Mable Nelson, b 28 Apr 1888, d 02 Oct 1963, m 19 Aug 1908 Harry Stewart Calhoun.2
John Clifford educated his much loved adopted son, Joseph at Howard College in Birmingham and his youngest daughter, Mabel at Business College in Mobile. He was a
proponent of education as was his father, Elisha and his grandfather Joseph Nelson, Sr.
After the death of Nancy Bradley Nelson 10 Jan 1907, John Clifford Nelson married Claudia Walker. Claudia Walker was born 26 Dec 1871 in Baldwin County, Alabama. Her father was Horatio Walker and her mother was Julia Ann Strong. Horatio Walker’s father was Lemeul Walker and his mother was Love Styron. Julia Ann Strong’s father was Samuel Sebra Strong and her mother was Mary E. Nelson.
John Clifford and Claudia were the parents of one child:
Mary Nelson, b 1898
John Clifford Nelson died 24 Jun 1918. He is buried beside Nancy Bradley Nelson at Shell Banks Baptist Church Cemetery. A Confederate Memorial has been placed on his grave.