Civil War Records of Nathaniel M. Allen


Co. Regiment / Ship From To Residence/ Credit Occupation Notes
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."
MASSCW, 1:10
Medal of Honor Recipients 1863-1994: 2

Service Record (select pages from the National Archives): x
Service Ledger (Town of Acton): x


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

Pension File (select pages from the National Archives):  14 pages (PDF*)

Grand Army of the Republic

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). 

G.A.R. Personal War Sketch


Date July 30, 1900
Place Acton, Mass.
Age 60
Cause nervous exhaustion and heart disease
Obituary Concord Enterprise, August 2, 1900
Burial Woodlawn Cemetery, Acton, Mass.
Survived by  

Additional Information

Nathaniel M. Allen was born April 29, 1840, in Boston.  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.


Nathaniel's father Gaius W. Allen was born in Union, Maine to Duty Allen of Medfield and Elizabeth Briggs of Mansfield. (Acton death register, "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910," vol. 392, p. 43 [image],

Gaius W. Allen and Mary Robbins, both of Acton married in 1827 (Vital Records of Acton Massachusetts to the Year 1850: 128).

Mary, wife of Gaius Allen, died in Acton September 12, 1837, at age 29 (Vital Records of Acton Massachusetts to the Year 1850: 249).

Gaius W. Allen married Esther Rust, (b. Gloucester) in Boston, June 9, 1839  (Boston marriages 1800-1849, vol. 1, p. 261 [image], "Massachusetts Town and Vital Records 1620-1988,"

The Allen family is recorded living in Boston, Ward Six, in the 1850 federal census (dwelling no. 345/384): G.W. Allen, age 45, born Maine; Ester Allen, age 49; Charlotte Allen, age 15; Nat Allen, age 10, Geo Allen, age 8; and E.B. Allen, age 6 ("1850 United States Federal Census,"

Esther Allen, age 63, died in Boston, December 15, 1864 (Boston death register, 1864, p. 165 [image], "Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988,"

Nathaniel L. [sic] Allen, was a 30 year old jeweler and living in Boston, Mass. in 1870 in a household (Ward Six, 1577/1612) with his father Gaius W. Allen, age 65, nurse; George W. Allen, age 28, railroad conductor; Nancy A. Allen, age 33, keeping house; and Charlotte A. Allen, age 26, clock maker ("1870 United States Federal Census,"

Nathaniel M. Allen, a single 60 year old watchmaker, was recorded as an inhabitant of Marblehead, Mass. in the 1880 federal census (dwelling no. 383/554) ("1880 United States Federal Census,"

Gaius W. Allen died in Acton January 29, 1888 at age 83 (Acton death register, "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910," vol. 392, p. 43 [image], According to his obituary, he was survived by five of his children, and three of his sons served in the army. (Son George's obituary mentions three siblings: Nat, Adelaide and Charlotte, and the 1900 census records two sisters: Charlotte A. and Nancy A.-- Adeliade is probably the same person as Nancy A.).

Nathaniel M. Allen is recorded in the 1890 special veterans census as a resident of Acton ("1890 Veterans Schedules,"

Nathaniel Allen, age 60, is recorded in the 1900 federal census for Acton (household 34/36), living with his two sisters, Charlotte A., age 64; and Nancy A., age 72 ("1900 United States Federal Census,"

Nathaniel W. Allen died July 30, 1900 at age 60 years 3 months and 1 day (Acton death register, "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910," vol. 505, p. 318 [image],


See also:

Letter from Nathaniel Allen to War Department acknowledging receipt of Medal of Honor, March 31, 1899.

"Presented with the Medal of Honor." Concord Enterprise, June 1, 1899.


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