Munger, Nathan Anson
Age: 18, credited to Orwell, VT
Unit(s): 11th VT INF
Service: enl 12/7/63, m/i 12/10/63, Pvt, Co. B, 11th VT INF, pow 6/28/64, Andersonville, prld?, m/o 6/26/65, SOWD
See Legend for expansion of abbreviationsVITALS
Birth: 02/12/1848, Orwell, VT
Burial: Mountain View Cemetery, Orwell, VT
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Alan Lathrop
Findagrave Memorial #: 46849635
Alias?: None noted
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)
Webmaster's Note: The 11th Vermont Infantry was also known as the 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery; the names were used interchangably for most of its career
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Mountain View Cemetery, Orwell, VT
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Nathan A. (Anson) Munger (Manger, Monger) did what many young men of the 1861-1865 era did - he lied about his age in order to enlist in the army. There was nothing unusual about that. Many young men, and even not so young men, fabricated new birthdays in order to become part of the historic American Civil War experience. What is more out of the ordinary is the fact that his father, Alvah A. Monger was a co-conspirator in the ruse. He reaffirmed in writing at the time of Nathan's enlistment that his sixteen year old son was indeed eighteen and therefore of legal age to join up. Both father and son deliberately lied. Why? Perhaps the answer lies in the root of all evil - money. Nathan was paid a $300 bounty for signing his name to the roll. Money, no doubt, he never saw because it found its way into the hands of his father, Alvah and the family Nathan came from. It was common practice for the government to send a soldier's pay to his family back home rather than be given directly to the soldier himself. That way temptation in the local towns near where the soldier was stationed on payday or the nearness of the ever willing to oblige sutler's tent that followed the soldiers wherever they went would not siphon off the precious dollars to some unworthy and questionable sources. If these two evils weren't enough to keep a soldier in poverty, there was always the ever present blanket or empty barrel that could be used for gambling. However, even if their actions might have been a bit devious, I like to think it was done for a noble purpose. After all, Nathan's father was a widower with seven children to support. He worked as a farmer or ship's carpenter. He had no wife to tend to the household chores and look after the young ones. His children ranged in age from twenty to six. That bounty (worth about $5,283.00 in today's money) represented about a year's salary to him. So, it may have been more out of desperation than avarice that father and son schemed to make a little extra money through circumstances not of their own creation.
The fact is that Nathan was too young to voluntarily go off to war in 1863. He was only fifteen, not even quite sixteen, having been born on February 12, 1848 in Orwell, Vermont. His parents were Alva (Alvah A.) Manger (Munger, Monger) born about 1810 and Rebecca Martindale born about 1816. Rebecca's parents were Thomas and Lucy Martindale. Nathan had somewhere between nine and twelve brothers and sisters:
[In the preparation of his biographical sketch, the researcher relied upon three different sources in order to compile a commonly agreed upon list of siblings. The names and birth years of those relatives are given as the most often repeated names and dates found among two Federal Census' and one Ancestry.com Family Tree that appeared the best researched and, therefore, the most dependable. There were other sources, mostly family trees, that offered variant versions of the list of siblings Nathan had. A few of those exceptions have been noted and included.]
Mary A. 1838-1842 George R. 1841-1842 Mary Melissa 1840-1919 Charles 1842- William T. 1843-1845 Alvah L. 1845- George Alonzo 1846-1928 Nathan Anson 1848-1926** Rollin 1849-1918 DeForest 1854- John 1856- Rachel 1857-
Rachel, Alvah's wife, died July 20, 1857 at age forty-one. Cause of death was listed as "palsy" which, in the 18th century medical world, meant "paralysis or uncontrolled movement of controlled muscles". Undoubtedly, being pregnant twelve or more times in nineteen or twenty years had something to do with her final condition. Adding to the overall confusion in following the genealogical line was the fact that names often were spelled phonetically or purely by best guess on the part of the recorder of the data. And so we got "Matien" and "Mathien" for "Nathan". Additionally, Nathan inadvertently added more to the confusion by preferring to use his middle name, "Anson", instead of his given name "Nathan". In most of the Federal Census records, he is listed as Anson Munger or Monger.
In 1850, Alvah,thirty-nine, and Rebecca, thirty-four, lived in Orwell, Vermont on a farm. At the time, there were seven children living under their roof ranging in age from ten (Mary) to o years (Rollin). Nathan was two. At least some of the youngest children attended school. In July of 1857, Rebecca died at forty-one leaving Alvah to support and care for the seven children. Rachel, less than a year old, may have been a contributing factor in her mother's early demise.
The 1860 Federal Census listed Alvah as fifty-five years old and working as a ship's carpenter (probably building canal boats which were in high demand then). His sixteen year old son, William, worked as a farm hand. The oldest female in the household was Rachel. She was only about two at the time. The Census did list a Nathan as a member of the household in 1860. It is doubtful, though, that he was Nathan Anson Munger. For one thing, the ages did not match. Whoever this Nathan was was listed as being ten years old which puts his birthday around 1850 not 1848 which is Anson Munger's DOB. Some Ancestry.com family trees for Alvah Munson do list a second Nathan who was born in 1850. But, if this Nathan was the same Nathan as Anson Munger who enlisted in the army illegally at sixteen, he would have had to be about thirteen not ten. Anson Munger is not listed in the 1860 Census as living in Alvah's household. Based on the fact that Alvah was a widow with seven children still at home ranging in ages from sixteen to about three, that he was a carpenter hired out to work for someone else for wages, that he had no adult woman in the house to run it and care for the young ones, and taking into consideration that many males sixteen and up were living outside the parental home as a boarder/hired hand or had begun their own homestead with their new wives, it was not surprising that his name was missing from the household list. This arrangement would have in the least meant one less mouth Alvah had to worry about feeding. At best, it would have meant that plus provided additional income to the family of Mungers by having another paid contributor to their welfare. Others are missing from the 1860 household as well. Mary was gone. She would have been about twenty years old, way old enough to have married and moved out. Charles would have been about eighteen. He, too, would have been plenty old enough to have started his own place and family. Alonzo who was about thirteen might have also been farmed out to a local farmer for wages. Such a thing under the circumstances facing Alvah would not have been extraordinary. Since there was no mention of any hired female adult in the home, household chores such as cooking and washing and tending to infants must have been done by the young boys in the family. Whatever arrangements had been made for their maintenance, it must have been a very difficult and stressful time for Alvah. No wonder, when war came, both he and his son, Nathan, saw an opportunity too inviting to pass up.
So, on December 7, 1863, Nathan A. Munger, sixteen at best not eighteen as required by law, enlisted in the Union Army. Something else was peculiar about his enlistment. He was recruited by the Justice of the Peace in Orwell, one C.H. Conkey. The young man declared he was a farmer and single. The examining surgeon, Marcus O. Porter, passed the black haired, darkly complexioned, five feet three inch volunteer with blue eyes "... free from all bodily defects and mental infirmities..."  Alvah, just in case there was any doubt in the recruiter's mind about his stated age, or maybe because the observant recruiter wanted to protect himself, filled out and signed the parental consent form for minors on the enlistment papers dated December 7, 1863. At least Nathan's father had him enlist in an artillery regiment rather than an infantry regiment. He was probably thinking the artillery would be a safer choice. Little did he know that the Eleventh Vermont would often be used as infantry. On December 10, 1863, Private Nathan A. Munger of Company B, First Regiment Vermont Heavy Artillery was mustered-in at Brattleboro, Vermont for three years. Four days later, December 14, Private Munger was awarded $25 bounty plus another $35 paid from the commutation fund. He was owed an additional $242 which he would receive at a later time.
The regiment, to which Private Munger was a member, was originally mustered-in as the Eleventh Vermont Volunteer Infantry in September 1862. In mid-December of that year, it was redesignated as the First Heavy Artillery. Unfortunately, official and personal records used both designations which has caused great confusion.
The Eleventh Regiment was the largest Vermont regiment sent to the war, both in original membership and in total enrollment. It was recruited as an infantry regiment at the same time as the Tenth, under the call of July 2, 1862 from President Lincoln for 300,000 volunteers. By the middle of August, ten companies had been organized. The Regiment rendezvoused at Camp Bradley in Brattleboro, Vermont where they were mustered into the U.S. service September 1, 1862 for three years. It left the State on September 7 for Washington, D.C. where it arrived on the ninth and was immediately assigned to duty in the chain of forts constituting the northern defenses of the capital. By order of the Secretary of War, dated December 10, 1862, it was made a heavy artillery unit becoming redesignated as the First Heavy Artillery.
The Eleventh remained in the defenses of Washington, D.C. for a period of eighteen months, during which time it was chiefly employed strengthening the works, constructing and garrisoning Forts Stevens, Slocum and Totten. During the latter part of its artillery service at Washington, the Regiment garrisoned four other forts and occupied a line of about seven miles. It experienced little of the real hardships of war during 1863 and the first months of 1864. It had comfortable quarters, the men enjoyed excellent health and rations - even luxuries were abundant for a price. It maintained an excellent state of discipline typical of Vermont troops, and was rated the best disciplined regiment in the defense of the capital. After the terrible Federal losses at the Battle of the Wilderness, the Eleventh was ordered to join the Army of the Potomac. It reported for duty as infantry near Spotsylvania Court House with nearly 1,500 men.
During the severe Overland Campaign that followed, the Regiment participated in every major engagement of the Sixth Corps from May 1864 to April 1865: Spotsylvania; Cold Harbor; Petersburg; Welden railroad; Fort Stevens; Charlestown; Gilbert's ford; Opequan; Fisher's Hill; Cedar Creek; Petersburg siege. In the debacle at Welden railroad, June 23, 1864, the Regiment suffered the greatest loss sustained by any Vermont Regiment in a single action. It lost nine killed, thirty-one wounded and two hundred sixty-one captured. All the captives were sent to Andersonville prison where two hundred thirty-two of them died.
Original members, recruits for one year and recruits whose term of service expired before October 1, 1865, were mustered-out on June 24, 1865. The remainder of the Regiment was consolidated into one battalion of heavy artillery and stationed in the defenses of Washington until mustered-out on August 25, 1865. The original members of the Eleventh numbered 1,315. Recruits and transfers amounted to an additional 1,005. The total rank and file was 2,320. Of that number, 152 were killed in action; 210 died of disease; 457 were wounded; 339 where captured; 2 died by accident.
January, February, March and April came and went without incident except that Private Munger's second bounty installment of $40.00 was due to him. June 30, 1864 found him a patient in the Sixth Army Corps Hospital at City Point, Virginia. He was assigned to Ward G. This was a week after the little known First Battle of Weldon Railroad which took place June 21-24, 1864 as part of the Petersburg Campaign. In that action six miles south of Petersburg, designed to sever Lee's supply routes from North Carolina and the deep South, the Vermonters engaged with the Confederates commanded by Lee suffered their greatest losses in a single battle. The Union casualties under Grant and Meade sustained 604 killed, 2,494 wounded and 2, 217 captured. Among those taken prisoner by the enemy were over 344 officers and men from Vermont. Private Munger's service records included a document called "Memorandum From Prisoner of War Records". On it, it states Nathan's full name, rank, Regiment (in his case two - the 11th and the 1st H.A.), arm of service (I & H.A.) as well as company. All of the information was correct. It did not state where and when captured nor where confined. The only remark made was "No record subsequent to June 28, 1864". The Company Muster Roll for May/June, 1864 remarked: "...3rd installment of bounty $40.00 now due. Missing since June 29, 1864. All this might have indicted that Private Munger was one of the over 300 Vermonters taken prisoner by the Rebels at Weldon Railroad June 21-24, 1864. One fact and one corroborating piece of evidence pointed to the deduction that Nathan had never been taken prisoner at the First Battle of Weldon Railroad. First, he was in the Sixth Corps Army Hospital at City Point, Virginia on June 30, 1864 as cited above. Secondly, on July 16, 1864, he was admitted to Finley G.H. in Washington, D.C. with "Gen Debility". In the medical jargon of 1864, "debility" meant he was bed ridden and could not move. In today's language, we would probably call it "combat fatigue". Therefore, it was highly unlikely that he had been whisked off to a Confederate prison in the South after the June engagement at Weldon Railroad. He just went missing for a time as far as his Company clerk knew. By August 11, 1864, Private Munger was discharged from the hospital and sent back to his Company. September/October and November/December Private Munger was present for duty with the Regiment. By the end of the year, he had accumulated a $7.00 debt to Sutler F. Evans.
For the first four months of 1865, Private Munger was present and accounted for. On June 24, 1865, the Sixth Corps leadership decided to reorganized the Eleventh Vermont Infantry, aka the First Vermont Heavy Artillery into Batt (ery?) 1 VT Arty. This Regiment of artillery (Co. B, Batt'n 1 VT H. Art'y) was formed of men not mustered out with Co. B and of men transferred from other companies, same regiment. However, when the transfer took place, Private Munger was not present with his unit. He was admitted into the General Hospital at Fort Foote on June 3, 1865. He was still reported as sick in the hospital at Fort Foote (a small defensive earthen fort that was part of the Washington, D.C. fortifications) as late as August 3, 1865. Whether he was physically present or not for the Eleventh's discharge from the service on August 25, 1865 was unclear from the service records consulted. He had been in the G.H. since May 20, 1865. His records indicated that he did not receive a discharge along with the remainder of the First H.A. Regiment. That prompted the Government, as late as 1890, to file charges of desertion on June 26, 1865 against Nathan Munger. Those charges were probably first brought earlier after Nathan filed for a pension in 1882 (which was granted!). Apparently Private Munger got lost in the shuffle of reorganizing the artillery unit and appeared to have been AWOL when he had actually been convalescing in a hospital six miles from Washington, D.C. Eventually, Nathan was able to produce enough evidence to the Government to convince them that he had not deserted. And so, on September 8, 1890, the War Department removed the charge of desertion of June 26, 1865 and issued Nathan a legitimate discharge to that date.[26.] It took until September 14, 1900 to officially cleanse Nathan's service record of desertion, but eventually he got back into the good graces of his government.
When the eighteen year old returned to Vermont from the battlefields of the Civil War, he must have gone back to the only occupation he knew - farming. That's how he was supporting himself in 1870 when he got married. His bride was a local girl from Benson by the name of Betsey Viola Coats. She was the daughter of Henry Coats who was a millwright in Benson and Pamelia M. Coats. Henry's net worth was listed at $250.00 in the Federal Census of 1870.. Betsey was seventeen years old when she married Nathan on July 12, 1870 in Orwell, Vermont. Nathan was twenty-two. Reverend H. F. Austin performed the ceremony. September 26, 1871, Nathan and Betsey had their first, and only, child. His name was George and he was born in Benson. Nine years later, 1880, George and his parents resided in Benson. Thirty-three year old Nathan was now a laborer rather than a farmer. Betsey was twenty-seven. In 1882, Nathan applied for a government pension based on his service in the War of the Rebellion. It was granted, probably for $8.00 per month which was the usual amount awarded a veteran. Even that small amount made a significant difference in the life style the Munger's when added to the wages Nathan earned as a laborer.
At the turn of the century, Nathan and Betsey still lived in Orwell. Nathan was around fifty-two and his wife was forty-seven. Nathan was still making a living being a laborer. The pension amount he was granted in 1882 was even more important now because Nathan had not been employed for eight months when the Federal Census was taken. His home was mortgaged. He and Betsey had had only one child, George. He had died in 1897. Ten years later found Nathan still working as a day laborer earning wages. He and Betsey had been married for thirty-nine years. The sixty-two year old was never out of work during the previous year. Although he and Betsey owned a home in Orwell, it was not paid for yet. They still had a mortgage.
In 1920, seventy-two year old Nathan and sixty-seven year old Betsey were residents of Orwell and lived on Daigneau Hill Road. They finally owned their home free of a mortgage. On January 7, 1926, the old veteran of more than seven major battles of the Civil War heard his last taps. At the age of seventy-seven, almost seventy-eight, Nathan succumbed to chronic myocarditis, failing compensation and acute dilation of the heart. He had suffered with a bad heart for at least the last three months of his life.
By February 20 of 1926, Betsey, Nathan's widow, applied for and was granted a widow's pension. She continued to live in the home she shared with Nathan in Orwell until her death from pneumonia on September 11, 1931.
NOTES:1. Headstone, Mountain View Cemetery, Orwell, Vermont; www.findagrave.com, Find A Grave Memorial #46849635; Ancestry.com, Vermont, Death Records, 1909-2008 for Matien Anson Munger.
2. Ancestry.com, Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908, Marriage for Anson Munger; Ibid, Vermont, Vital Records 1720-1908, Death for Rebecca Munger.
3. Ibid., 1850 and 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Alvah Munger and Alva Munger.
4. Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908, Death for Rebecca Muger.
5. www.usgennet.org/usa/ar/county/greene/old diseases 1htm/Old Disease Names Frequently Found on Death Certificates.
6. Ancestry.com, 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Alvah Munger.
7. Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, Death for Rebecca Munger.
8. Ibid., 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Alva Munger.
9. Fold3.com, Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Vermont, p. 28, image 309684968. Herein-after referred to as Compiled Service Records.
11. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 3, image 309684890.
12. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 5, image 309684895.
13. Vermont in the Civil War.org/Units/1st Brigade/Eleventh Vermont Infantry; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/11th Vermont Infantry.
14. Fold3.com, Compiled Service Records, p. 8, image 309684902.
15. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 24, image 309684953.
16. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 12, image 309684913.
17. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 26, image 309684960.
19. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 15, image 309684924.
20. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 6, image 309684897.
21. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 18, image 309684933.
22. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 19, image 309684937.
23. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 20, image 309684940.
24. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 22, image 309684947
25. Ancestry.com, U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 for Nathan A. Monger.
26. Fold3.com, Compiled Service Records, p. 22, image 309684947.
27. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 7, image 309684899.
28. Ancestry.com, Vermont, Vital Records, Marriage - Groom, 1720-1908, for Anson Munger; Ibid., 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Betsey V. Coats.
29. www.findagrave.com, Find A Grave Memorial #46849635.
30. Ancestry.com, 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Anson Munger.
31. Ibid., U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 for Nathan A. Munger.
32. Ibid., 1900 U.S. Federal Census for N Anson Monger.
33. Ibid., 1910 U.S. Federal Census for Nathan A. Monger.
34. Ibid, 1920 U.S. Federal Census for Anson Munger.
35. Ibid., Death Records, 1909-2008 for Mathien Anson Munger.
36. Ibid., U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 for Nathan A. Manger.
37. Ibid., Death Records, 1909-2008 for Betsey Viola Monger.
Courtesy of Bernie Noble.