Walter Lewis Mundell was born on August 1, 1838, in Marshall, Roane County, West Virginia, the son of Josephus (1813-1854) and Elizabeth (Lewis, 1815-1885).
Josephus and Elizabeth were married in 1837, possibly in Pennsylvania where they both may have been born. In 1850 there was one Walter Mundell, age 18, born in Virginia, living with one John (b. 1796 in Scotland) and Jeanette (b. 1799) in Scioto, Pickaway County, Ohio.
In any case Walter came to Michigan in 1852 and eventually settled on land in Dallas, Clinton County -- so did John Mundell. Walter worked on the family farm, probably in Clinton County, until the war broke out. According to Mundell family historian Lois Downing, before the war Walter worked both for the railroad (probably the Detroit & Milwaukee RR) and on his mother’s farm (probably in Dallas), and by 1860 he may have been working as a laborer living in Grand Rapids.
Walter stood 5’7” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 22 years old and possibly residing in Grand Rapids (or in Clinton County) when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861. He was reported missing in action on either May 31 or June 1, 1862, and in fact had been taken prisoner-of-war on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia. He was probably paroled on September 5 or 13, 1862, at Aiken’s Landing, Virginia. According to the Richmond Dispatch of September 15, 1862,
Three thousand three hundred of the Yankee prisoners left Richmond on Saturday for Varina to be exchanged. – Such as could not walk were conveyed away in wagons. The officers, of which there were 61, went in carriages, provided for the purpose. As the long line filed past the C. S. Prison, on Cary Street, they greeted their less lucky compeers with a feeble cheer. A small cavalry escort accompanied them down. Another large gang were started for Aiken’s landing, on James River, yesterday morning. During Saturday and Sunday five thousand two hundred and twenty-eight were sent away. This leaves on hand only about seven hundred, a good many of whom are in the hospital under treatment for wounds or disease, who were unable to bear removal. Three Yankee women and eight Yankee deserters, or rather men who came over to us and professed to be such, were sent from Castle Thunder. Though these deserters professed to have left their brethren in great disgust, they were very willing to be sent back to the North. The departure of the prisoners will save the Confederate Government an expense of about $4,000 per day, which was the average that their food as soldiers cost.
Walter eventually returned to the Regiment on November 20 at Warrenton, Virginia.
Shortly after he rejoined the Regiment Walter reenlisted on December 23, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Boston, Ionia County. He was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864, probably at his mother’s home in Michigan (perhaps Ionia County) and probably returned to the Regiment in Virginia on or about the first of February.
In any case Walter was present for duty through April of 1864. He was shot in the right side of the chest on the morning of May 12, 1864, during the charge of Liberty Hill, near Spotsylvania, Virginia. He was probably treated in the field before being sent to Lincoln hospital in Washington, DC, and on May 18 he was admitted to Patterson Park hospital in Baltimore, Maryland with a “gunshot wound to the right breast.” Shortly after arriving in Baltimore he was furloughed, probably from the hospital.
Walter returned to Michigan and while home he married Ohio native Isabelle Wheeler (1846-1930), possibly in Fowler, Clinton County, where Isabelle resided at the time. They had at least five children: Mrs. Mary E. Waters, Mrs. Rhoda Acre, Mrs. Elizabeth Buck, Rose and Walter. (The 1870 census lists three children at that time: Mary R. (b. 1866, Sarah (b. 1868) and John (b. 1870).)
It is not known for certain when Walter returned to the east or when he rejoined the Third Michigan. In any case, he was transferred as a Corporal to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was returned to the Regiment on June 21. Walter was again wounded, this time by a shell fragment in the left ankle, on July 30, 1864, near Petersburg, Virginia. He was admitted from the field to the First Division hospital at Alexandria, Virginia on August 11 with a “contusion of the left leg and foot by a shell,” and on October 5 he was admitted to Sickle branch of the Second Division hospital at Alexandria, Virginia, and he remained absent sick through December of 1864. Walter was furloughed from the hospital on October 21 and probably returned to his family in Michigan. He was readmitted on November 4 and reportedly returned to duy on New Year’s Day, 1865.
On January 1, 1865, his wife Isabelle wrote to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton seeking her husband’s release from the military. “Tho you are a stranger to me,” she wrote, “yet I am about to ask a favor. Sir my husband has been in [the] service nearly four years and is disabled and is not fit for duty. Sir I am alone, my health is very poor. We we are strangers, yet I cherish a hope that you're a gentleman and a friend to the poor. I most humbly pray sir if it would be agreeable to release my husband. He is now at Alexandria hospital. He was wounded in the breast, his ankle [is] broken and is bad off a-bleeding.”
Notwithstanding his wife’s pleas, however, Walter was not released from the service, but in fact was returned to duty. He was serving with the Fifth Michigan when he captured an enemy flag at Sayler’s Creek, Virginia, on April 6, 1865, for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Walter was also granted a furlough of 30 days, and returned to his home in Michigan. He was mustered out as a Corporal on July 5, 1865, probably at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
After the war Walter returned home to Michigan and worked for some years for the railroad. By 1870 he was working as a day laborer and living with his wife and three children in Dalas, Clinton County.
According to family historian Lois Downing, he lost the sight in one eye as a result of an accident while at work. Soon after his returned to Michigan he eventually settled in Fowler where he probably lived the rest of his life. Walter was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and of Grand Army of the Republic Hutchinson Post No. 129 in Fowler, and at one time served as Post Commander.
He was living in Fowler in 1883 when he was drawing $6.00 per month for a wounded left ankle (pension no. 148,581, dated October of 1877).
He was still living in Fowler the following year when, according to one story, Walter “walked 30 miles to attend the reunion of the Third Michigan Infantry. He has a large family to support, and felt too poor to pay out money for the railroad fare. He was bound to see the old ‘boys’, however, even if he did have to come the whole distance via ‘Foot & Walker's’ line. Mr. M. was one of the 35 who received the noted Kearny cross [actually the Congressional Medal of Honor]. He did not walk home. The ‘boys’ ‘chipped in’ for his benefit.” He may have lived briefly in Cedar Springs, Kent County in 1885, but by 1888 was back in Fowler, and was possibly living in Dallas by 1890 but had apparently returned to Fowler by 1894.
Walter died of septicemia on April 20, 1900, at his home in Fowler, and the funeral services were held on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at the M.E. church in Fowler, Rev. Mudge officiating. He was buried in Oak Ridge cemetery, Fowler.
The week after Walter’s death Isabell applied for and received a widow’s pension (no. 497620).