As a young man, Nathaniel worked in Boston as a watchmaker. When the civil war broke out on April 12, 1861, he immediately enlisted into the 1st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry as a Private, on May 22, 1861, aged 21. In April 1862, he was promoted to Corporal of the Color Guard and maintained the rank for the rest of his military career.
The started on July 1, 1863 and was fought until July 3, 1863.
lieutenant was considered the turning point in the Civil War. lieutenant also created the highest number of casualties of the Civil War, with 23,055 Union troops killed, missing in action or wounded.
And 23,231 Confederate casualties. Allen"s battle started on July 2, one day into the battle.
In the afternoon of that day, his regiment came under heavy small-arms fire from advancing Confederate infantry.
In the midst of the fight, he was given the Regiment"s United States. flag from his wounded ensign William Eaton. Allen"s commander then ordered the regiment to retreat from the advancing Confederates. Whilst retreating, Allen saw Sergeant William Kelren shot and killed - dropping the regimental flag beneath him.
Allen immediately retrieved the flag and from underneath Kelren’s body.
He then ran back to his retreating regiment carrying both flags safely from the battlefield. lieutenant was for this action he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
More than half of Allen’s regiment were killed or wounded in the battle. After the Civil War ended, Nathaniel returned to Boston where he continued his old trade as a watchmaker.
Several years later, however, Nathaniel"s eyesight began to fail, making it impossible to work as a watchmaker.
36 years after the He died from nervous exhaustion and heart disease a year later on July 30, 1900, at age 60. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Acton.