Enlistment records tell us that he was among the first to join the 61st New York Volunteer Infantry when it was formed in October of 1861. He signed up for 3 years and was accepted as a private. Perhaps he had some previous service because within days he was listed as being transferred from H into A company and with the rank of Sergeant.
The records of the 61st show that they did honorable service in numerous battles including at Manassas, the siege of Yorktown, Seven Pines, the campaign before and at Richmond, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill an Antietam. And at about this time Nutting's worth had been recognized with a promotion to 2nd Lieutenant.
After the regiment fought at Antietam they continued on to Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and then Gettysburg. At each of these battles Canadians fought and came away with Medals of Honor from at least three of them. Nutting was wounded at Gettysburg but recovered and continued on in the war, His performance there may have been the reason why he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, only to be followed just five months later with yet another promotion, this time to Captain.
It would be after further battles at the Mine Run, Rapidan River and the Wilderness, that the 61st would find itself at a small unincorporated village known as Todd's Tavern in Spottsylvania Virginia.
In the aftermath of a horrible cavalry confrontation between the Union and Confederate troops the infantry had to march forth. Here the 61st were being attacked from the North and the West and then Captain Lee Nutting now leading a colour party, pushed forth in his own counter-offensive. In the charge that he led, several officers and men were wounded and killed. He continued to advance though receiving several wounds and only stopped when he dropped by yet another bullet. In later life it was revealed that that day he had his bible I his left shirt pocket, and in that bible was lodged a bullet from the battle. Had it not been there, he'd surely have been killed that day. His wounds were so bad that within a couple of weeks his war came to an end with him being released from further service.
In later years he became somewhat active in veterans groups, held reunions for the 61st in his own home and was one of the officers who gave a speech at the dedication to a 9 foot high memorial to his old regiment at the very spot where they fought at Gettysburg. He was also a very good friend in later life with his former commanding officer...none other than Nelson Miles, who in the early 1900's as a General would be the very head of the body of generals tasked with the great purge of over 900 Medals of Honor in the 1916/17 era. A purge that he was very much against, but he had very clear marching orders, despite their lack of legality, but more on this in another blog.
In August of 1893 Captain Nutting was awarded a Medal of Honor with a citation that noted in part that he was the leader of a charge under horrendous fire and continued till he was repeatedly wounded and dropped by an enemy bullet. His was one of only five Medals of Honor to his regiment despite the fact that it fought in well over two dozen major battles and skirmishes, in its 4 years of service.
Nutting moved to Nova Scotia to live with his eldest daughter in the last few years of life. His wife died there in 1907 and he died in 1908 and both are buried in Bridgewater and later joined at the same cemetery by that same daughter.
In the fall of 1989 former President Charles McGillivary, of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society traveled to New Brunswick and took part in an unveiling ceremony at two graves of Canadian MOH recipients in the Saint John and St Stephen areas. These two markers were of the new type developed a few years earlier, by several people including McGillivary. He also was a Canadian MOH recipient from WW11 in the Battle of the Bulge, He was the only Non -American born ever to serve as president of that highly honourable society. The 2 markers unveiled where the first in the history of the medal to be unveiled outside of the United States. The following year, again in the fall two similar markers were unveiled in Nova Scotia, one at Halifax and the second at Bridgewater for Captain Nutting. The later two became the third and forth outside of the US to be unveiled. (I have visited each grave)
The new marker, as shown above, was placed in front of the twin markers for Nutting and other members of his family in Nova Scotia, and shown to right.
In 2006 a joint ceremony of the 20th Maine Re-enactors out of New Brunswick and the Civil War Living History Association sponsored another ceremony at the Nova Scotia burial site of Lee Nutting. Family were located, the legion was involved and others to boot. Over 50 attended a serious service that is often performed for veterans and especially former members of the GAR, the Grand Army of the Republic which was a veterans group in the US from shortly after the CW till about 1900. They feel that a veteran of their wars cannot be relieved of their duty until such time as the ceremony is performed and they are then put to rest. Part of the ceremony is the placing of the GAR marker.
These are some examples of the GAR markers found across the US and at many grave yards even in Canada.
The act of bravery resulting in Nutting's being awarded the Medal of Honor occurred a week ago from the past Sunday, and 151 years earlier.