Guide to the Daniel D. T. Nestell Papers, 1852-1911
A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029
Prepared by: David D'Onofrio
(Original Guide by Mary R. Catalfamo, 1996)
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
Daniel D. T. Nestell, reportedly born in New York between 1815 and 1819, graduated with honors from the University of the City of New York's University Medical College (later the New York University School of Medicine) in 1843. 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 U.S.S. Clifton (side wheel steamer). 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.
After his release from Confederate captivity, and a subsequent furlough, Nestell was assigned to the U.S.S. Alabama (side wheel steamer), 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 Nestell's appointment as Acting Assistant Surgeon was revoked, and he was honorably discharged from the Navy in August of that year.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.
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.
Scope and Content Note
The Daniel D. T. Nestell Papers, comprising 6 linear inches of documents and spanning from 1843 to 1911, focus primarily on Nestell's service and experiences as an Assistant Surgeon in the United States Navy during the Civil War. The papers describe Nestell's naval career, from his initial appointment through his retirement and subsequent pension claims, including descriptions of his time as a Confederate prisoner of war, and eye witness accounts of numerous naval engagements through a series of original drawings.
The collection is primarily composed of correspondence, claim receipts, news clippings, photographs, and original drawings.
The collection is organized into three series by document type. UNITED STATES NAVY FILES consists of documents pertaining to the functional aspects of Nestell's career as an Assistant Surgeon in the United States Navy, including appointments, prize claims, and pension claims. The series also includes Nestell's Doctor of Medicine diploma. PHOTOGRAPHS consists of nine portraits of United States military personnel, including Nestell, and fellow crew of the U.S.S. Alabama. DRAWINGS, representing over one-half of the collection, consists of original drawings by Nestell, primarily depicting major engagements of the Union Navy's West Gulf Blockading Squadron and Mississippi Squadron, in which U.S.S. Clifton took part.
In addition to biographical inquiries pertaining to Nestell, the major research area served by the Nestell Papers (specifically Nestell's drawings) is the study of the activities of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, including the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Phillip, the Siege of Vicksburg, and the First Battle of Galveston.
UNITED STATES NAVY FILES, 1843, 1852 and 1863-1911. (Box 1 and MS OS)
Arranged alphabetically by document type.
Varied documentation of Nestell's career as a surgeon in the United States Navy in the Civil War and subsequent retirement. The documents pertain to Nestell's appointment as an Acting Assistant Surgeon, claims for prize money and indemnification due to injury, pension payouts, and time spent as a prisoner of war of the Confederacy. Included in the series are letters, orders, claim forms and receipts, news clippings, appointments, a Confederate Navy voucher, an oath of office, and a report.
Among the items in the series are two Confederate documents, consisting of a voucher for hauling and an appointment as surgeon for Dr. James M. Jackson.
Also included in this series is a biographical chronology of Nestell compiled by one of his great grandchildren, which includes highlights of Nestell's service record, as well as Nestell's Doctor of Medicine Degree from the University of the City of New York Medical School.
PHOTOGRAPHS, [1860s]. (Box 1)
Arranged alphabetically by name.
Portraits of Nestell and other U.S. Navy and Army personnel, including crew members of U.S. Ships Alabama and Clifton. Included in the series are cartes de visite, a tintype, and a negative.
DRAWINGS, 1862-1865. (Box 2)
Organized into two sub-series by subject.
Pencil and ink drawings by Nestell, primarily of U.S.S. Clifton and the naval actions undertaken by the West Gulf Blockading Squadron.
Ships, Maps, and Battle Scenes: Arranged chronologically by date of drawing.
Depictions of Union naval vessels (primarily U.S.S. Clifton), Civil War battle scenes and maps, and landscapes. Prominent engagements include the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Phillip, the Siege of Vicksburg, and the First Battle of Galveston, as well as several drawings of action on Bayou Teche. In addition to U.S.S. Clifton, featured naval vessels include U.S. Ships Westfield, Mississippi, Hartford, and Harriet Lane.
Portraits: Hand-drawn portraits, primarily caricatures of sailors (presumably crew members of the U.S.S. Clifton). Also included in the sub-series are a landscape of a cemetery and church steeple and the portrait of a woman, labeled Piozzi.
The Nestell Papers have been digitized in their entirety. In addition to following the links in the Container List below, the materials can be accessed through the Nimitz Library Digital Collections.