Rudolph Nagel was born in 1838 in Baden, Germany.
Rudolph immigrated to America and eventually settled in western Michigan. By 1860 he was probably the same Rudolph “Nitel” who was working as a mill hand and living at the O’Harrow boarding house in Muskegon.
In any case, he stood 5’10” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 23 years old and probably working still as a laborer in Muskegon County when he enlisted in Company C on May 13, 1861. (He did not join the “Muskegon Rangers,” a local militia company which would make up in large part Company H, but rather Company C which was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles,” a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.)
He reenlisted as a Sergeant on December 21, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Muskegon County, and returned home to western Michigan on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864. While in Muskegon he married Ellen or Elinor Baranowski on January 26, 1864.
Rudolph presumably rejoined the Regiment on or about the first of February, and was transferred to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He was wounded on September 19, 1864, near Petersburg, Virginia, and reported absent sick from September through December. In fact he was in Grand Rapids, apparently recovering from his wounds on November 16, when he was examined by a local physician, Dr. William Wood. After having examined Nagel, Dr. Wood certified that he found him to be “suffering from bilious intermittent fever & that he is unable to travel.” He further stated that Nagel would “not be fit for duty in less than twenty days from this date.”
On December 23, 1864, another physician certified Nagel was suffering from chronic diarrhea and unable to rejoin his command for at least twenty days, and it is quite likely that Nagel remained in Michigan until he was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
After the war Rudolph eventually returned to Muskegon.
He was probably a Catholic.
Rudolph probably died in Muskegon and was possibly buried in St. Mary’s cemetery, Muskegon: section B-1.
Although Elinor had remarried to a man named Houpt or haupt, by 1890 she was living as Rudolph’s widow at 12 White Street in Muskegon. In 1905 she applied for a pension (no. 837252) but the certificate was never granted. She was buried next to Rudolph in St. Mary’s cemetery.