Monday, August 8, 2011

Military Monday: Nathan L. R. Melvin

37th Kentucky Volunteer Mounted Infantry

Nathan Melvin mustered into the Union Army on August 10, 1863 in Lebanon, Kentucky as a Private in Company E, 37th Regiment, Kentucky Vol. Mounted Infantry. He was made Corporal by October 31, 1863. On April 4th 1864 he was promoted from Corporal to Sergeant "in place of Ephraim Martin". He mustered out on December 29, 1864.

An excerpt from the website "REGIMENTAL HISTORIES for some selected Units" by Walt Cross about the 37th Kentucky Volunteer Mounted Infantry:

"Right in the middle of the regiment's initial organization, Col. Hughes led a Confederate force against the undermanned regiment on the night of the 6th of October. One hundred and forty-two men of the regiment were captured. Major Martin, the ranking officer on station, fought his way free of the encircling rebels and rallied the remaining companies. They pursued Col. Hughes and his precious cargo of Union soldiers and caught up to him just south of the town of Tompkinsville, retaking most of his men, horses, and weapons. The regiment largely back to strength, they marched to Columbia, Kentucky and joined the 13th Kentucky Cavalry for a movement to East Tennessee. Col. John Hunt Morgan, that famous Confederate raider, led his fast moving cavalry on a thrust into Kentucky in June of 1864. The 37th, along with other units, moved to stop his advance, and at the small town of Cynthiana broke Morgan's command and released the prisoners he had taken. They then drove him from the state. Early in September of 1864 the 37th moved East to Saltville, Virginia and participated in the battle there in which their brigade commander, Col. Hanson, was wounded and captured. The 37th returned to Kentucky after the battles at Saltville and after safeguarding the state from partisans, its soldiers were discharged in December of 1864."

From the pension record of Nathan L. R. Melvin:

From Civil War Pension record: Occupation: Laborer in 1904. Description: Height: 5'7", florid complexion, dark hair, hazel eyes. Enlisted at Hodgenville 10 Aug 1863, in the Union Army, at Lebanon. He was a Corporal in Co. E, 37th Ky. Infantry and was promoted to Sergeant. Nathan contracted cold from exposure while in the service, which was followed by fever and then chronic diarrhea. He was honorably discharged on December 29, 1864. He returned home to farm near White City. He was treated for his physical problems by Dr. Jesse Rodman until the doctor died in 1875. He was then treated by Dr. M. Wilkinson of New Haven, Dr. Hugh Rodman of New Haven, and Dr. J. M. Young of Hodgenville. He filed for pension, and obtained his pension in the early 1880's. He signed his name to his pension papers. Prior to service: resided on head waters of Knob Creek in Larue Co near N. A. Rapier's, four miles from New Haven for 22 years. Nathan L. R. Melvin drew a pension of $6 and $12 a month for military service.

Nathan L. R. Melvin was the son of Lucius and Catherine (Rentch) Melvin. He was the husband of Elizabeth Gollaher, daughter of Benjamin Austin and Mary (Price) Gollaher. Elizabeth's father is credited for having saved the life of Abraham Lincoln when they were boys. Nathan was the maternal great, great grandfather of my husband Mike. He was born September 18, 1835 and died in November of 1908. Nathan and Elizabeth had five children: Austin Lucius, Mary Catherine, Susan Florida, Sarah Elizabeth, and Michael R. Mike's lineage is through Michael R. Melvin.

Some say the initial L. in Nathan's name stands for "Lucius" after his father. (He also had a son named Austin Lucius.) Others have speculated that the initial R. stands for "Rentch" or "Rench" after his mother. Both initials were used in all his service records.



  1. Hey Lisa. I just happened to pull up your blog today and low and behold your latest post is regarding the family we share in common (via Margaret Erwin/Ervin/Ervein).

    Have you found any particular military records that indicate a soldier's family? I have looked at some civil war documents in hopes of getting an ancestor named only to come up empty handed.


  2. Hi again Jamie!! Pension papers sometimes have a LOT to offer so if you ever have a chance to order them I would certainly recommend it! I have one CW soldier who's children and wife were mentioned. Sometimes, if you be sure to order the whole packet, you get the neatest stuff!

  3. Again you write such an interesting post ...I always enjoy the read.
    Living in the UK ..the Civil War always seemed so removed from me ... something that films were made about ...that was until I found out that my husbands Great Grand father fought in the Union Army it is real and fascinates me.