Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Nathaniel W. Bunker Memoir, 1895

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Manuscripts Division Staff

Summary Information
Title: Nathaniel W. Bunker memoir
Creator: Bunker, Nathaniel W., b. ca. 1843
Inclusive dates: 1895
Extent: 20 pages
Nathaniel Bunker's memoir of his service in the Civil War, written thirty years later, includes an emphasis upon the Battle of the Wilderness and his wounding at Spotsylvania in 1864.
Language: The material is in English.
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1978. M-1837.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Nathaniel W. Bunker Memoir, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Bunker, Nathaniel W., b. ca. 1843

Rank : Private; Sergeant; 2nd Lieutenant (1865 July 1 -- never mustered)

Regiment : 44th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Co. G (1862-1863)56th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Co. I (1864-1865)

Service : 1862 August 29-1863 June 18; 1864 February 29-1865 July 12

Nathaniel W. Bunker, a carpenter from Belmont, Mass., was only 18 when President Lincoln's call for volunteers in August, 1862, stirred him to action. Enlisting in the 44th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, a nine months' unit, Bunker served primarily in North Carolina. At New Bern, the regiment fulfilled the unglamorous role of an army of occupation for several months before being drawn into a series of intense skirmishes at the end of the year, culminating in the Goldsboro-Kinston expedition in December. After surviving a few smaller scrapes during the spring, Bunker's enlistment ran out in June, 1863, and he returned home to Belmont.

Restless and edgy, and still smitted with the war spirit, Bunker reenlisted in the 56th Massachusetts Infantry, the first veteran regiment raised in the state. Sent to Virginia for Grant's spring campaigns in 1864, the 56th suffered terribly during the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg Campaigns. Bunker was shot through the thigh near Spotsylvania on May 12th, which may have been for the best, given his fellows soldiers' mortality in the ensuing weeks, and slowly found his way to the hospital. He returned to the service during the winter, and was in the field near Fort Stedman when the Confederacy fell in April, 1865.

Collection Scope and Content Note

Nathaniel Bunker's 20 page memoir contains a concise account of his service in the Civil War, with a fairly heavy emphasis upon the Battle of the Wilderness and his wounding at Spotsylvania in May, 1864. Written thirty years after the fact, the memoir is slight on other details of his service, but does indicate something of the selectivity of memory, his attitudes toward the war and military service (as he recalled them).

Subject Terms

    • United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 44th (1862-1863)
    • United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 56th (1863-1865)
    • Spotsylvania Court House, Battle of, Va., 1864.
    • Wilderness, Battle of the, Va., 1864.
    • War wounds.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.
    • United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   97, Schoff Civil War Collection Folder   35
    Nathaniel W. Bunker memoir (written for Gerry J. Henderson),  January 1895 [series]
    Skirmish at Rawles Mills, N.C.
    Battle of Kinston, N.C.
    Cotton burned
    Battles in N.C.
    Plymouth, N.C.
    Washington, N.C.
    Reasons for re-enlistment
    Centreville, Va.
    Difficult march
    Battle of the Wilderness
    Chancellorsville battle ground
    Spotsylvania Campaign
    He is wounded
    Makeshift hospitals
    Deserters hanged
    Fort Steadman captured by rebels