Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dr. David D.T. Nestell (1819-1900) - Sketched the Civil War

Dr. David Nestell is buried in the grassy area of Plot 15, Lot 65

Daniel D. T. Nestell was born in New York in 1819. In 1843, he graduated with honors from the City University of New York's Medical College. Following graduation, Nestell, accompanied by one of his professors, Dr. Valentine Mott, traveled abroad for two years in furtherance of his medical studies. Upon his return to the United States, Dr. Nestell reportedly worked as a physician or apothecary until 1862.

On January 25, 1862, Dr. Nestell was appointed Acting Assistant Surgeon, to serve on the side wheel steamer U.S.S. Clifton. While assigned to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, Clifton participated in the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Phillip in April 1862, the Siege of Vicksburg in June 1862, and the First Battle of Galveston in October 1862, before being captured by Confederate forces at Sabine Pass, Texas on September 8, 1863. Nestell was subsequently held as a prisoner of war until January 1864, when he was released. 

"Prof" the Hypocrite by Dr. David Nestell

After his release from Confederate captivity, and a subsequent furlough, Nestell was assigned to the side wheel steamer U.S.S. Alabama, again serving as Acting Assistant Surgeon. Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Alabama took part in the Union attacks on Fort Fisher from December 1864 to January 1865. During the action at Fort Fisher, Nestell suffered irreversible hearing damage. Five months later, on June 6, 1865, Dr. Nestell's appointment as Acting Assistant Surgeon was revoked, and he was honorably discharged from the Navy in August of that year. 

On September 9, 1869, Nestell received an appointment as Acting Assistant Surgeon in the U.S. Army, and served at Camp Warner, Oregon until April 1871. After serving briefly in California and the Arizona Territory, Nestell returned to civilian life in May 1872, and served in private practice in California.

Dutch Gap, April 9, 1865 by Dr. David Nestell

Nestell made numerous sketches during the Civil War and over 80 of them are preserved in a collection at the Nimitz Library. They can also be found in "The Southern Journey of a Civil War Marine: The Illustrated Note-Book Of Henry O. Gusley." Although Nestell and Gusley served on different war ships, much of their Civil War history was at the same locations.

Capture of USS Harriett Lane, Galveston by Dr. David Nestell

Nestell and Gusley's written and illustrated account of the Civil War provide us with some of the best accounts of key moments during this period. Together they document the capture of New Orleans, the Confederate victories at Galveston and Sabine Pass, as well as glimpses into the everyday life of Civil War soldiers.

Dr. Daniel D. T. Nestell died on October 24, 1900. Dr. Nestell was survived by his wife, Maria Louisa Whaites Nestell, whom he married in 1864, and his daughter, Ella. Cemetery records list the cause of death as "Senility."

[Biography primarily from the Nimitz Library]

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