Acton Memorial Library
|B||1st MVI||Private; enl. and must. May 23, 1861; apptd. Corpl. Jan. 26, 1863||must. out May 25, 1864||Boston||watchmaker||Medal of Honor Recipient for his display of courage at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863. "When his regt. was falling back, this soldier, bearing the national color, returned in the face of the enemy's fire, pulled the regimental flag from under the body of its bearer who had fallen, saved the flag from capture and brought both colors off the field."|
Medal of Honor Recipients 1863-1994, p. 2.
|Co.||Regiment||Date Filed||Type||App. No.||Cert. No.||State||Beneficiary/Remarks|
|B||1st MVI||Aug. 19, 1892||Invalid||1 052 309||779 049||Mass.||R&P 530247
Medal of Honor file
Recorded as member no. 67 in the membership roster of Isaac Davis Post No. 138 G.A.R., Acton, Massachusetts (Acton Memorial Library archives, 92.2.1).
|Date||July 30, 1900|
|Cause||nervous exhaustion and heart disease|
|Obituary||Concord Enterprise, August 2, 1900|
|Burial||Woodlawn Cemetery, Acton, Mass.|
Text from "Not Afraid to Go", exhibit at the Acton Memorial Library:
Nathaniel M. Allen was born on April 29, 1840, in Boston. His father, Gaius Allen, was from Acton and had served in the Davis Blues during the War of 1812. Nathaniel was a watchmaker when he enlisted as a private in Company B of the 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at East Boston on May 22, 1861. In April 1862, he was promoted to Corporal of the Color Guard and held that rank until he was discharged on May 25, 1864.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor on March 29, 1899, for rescuing and protecting the regimental and national flags at the Battle of Gettysburg. Of the 1,527 Medals of Honor awarded for action in the Civil War, more than half were for capturing the flag of an enemy force or preventing one’s own flag from being captured.
The 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry came under heavy attack by the advancing Confederates on the afternoon of July 2, 1863, the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. During the engagement, Corporal Allen received the national colors from his wounded Color Sergeant, William Eaton. As the regiment was rapidly falling back under heavy fire, Corporal Allen saw Color Sergeant William Kelren fall dead with the regimental colors beneath him. Running back in the face of heavy fire from the advancing enemy, Allen pulled the flag and staff from under Kelren’s body. He brought both regimental and national colors safely off the field. More than half of Allen’s company were killed or wounded in that action.
Allen carried the colors in sixteen more battles, among them Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvannia. Despite being in the color guard, a prime target for enemy fire, he was never wounded, hospitalized, or taken prisoner.
After the War, Nathaniel Allen returned to Boston and then lived in Marblehead for a few years before his failing eyesight made it hard to earn a living at watch repair. He moved in with his unmarried sisters in South Acton where he lived out his days. He died on July 30, 1900, at age 60, fourteen months after he received his Medal of Honor at a reunion of his regiment. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Acton.
Brother of George W. Allen.
Nathaniel M. Allen is recorded in the 1890 special veterans census as a resident of Acton ("1890 Veterans Schedules," Ancestry.com.)
Obituary of Gaius W. Allen (father)
Hosmer, The Town of Acton in the Civil War, p. 54.
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