Medal of Honor: Mundell, Ranney and Withington


(WLNS) – Time has stood still in the small mid-Michigan town of Fowler.

It hasn’t changed much since Walter Mundell, a quiet but humble Civil War soldier, walked these streets.

David Downing is a descendant of Walter Mundell and he describes his great-great grandfather, “He was a farmer. He was a man that did a lot of labor”.

The country was ripped in half by war between Union states and Confederate states, brother against brother.

Four long years, 1861 to 1865, America found itself engulfed in civil war.

Walter Mundell, with his families blessing, left his normal everyday life in Fowler, and did his part to save the union.

Mundell was presented the Medal of Honor after he captured a Confederate flag during battle, a big accomplishment during the Civil War.

“There are a thousand men in a straight line and they are facing each other. In the center of that line is a big flag, if you cannot here the orders and you see the flag go forward, you know you have to move forward. If you see the flag go back, you have to go back.” Downing said.

I joined David Downing at the Michigan State Historical Museum, where those actual flags are preserved.

Every tear and stain represents the hardships of battle but the detailed embroidery tells the full story.

Much like a famous surgeon from Lansing, George E. Ranney. Another Civil War hero who risked his life and was awarded the Medal of Honor more than 35 years after saving a fellow soldier.

Matt VanAcker is the director of the State Capital Tour Guide Service and talks about the doctor’s memory.

“He came back and lived his life. He contributed to our state and our country. I think tried to put the memories of the war behind him, but even with that it was always apart of who he was,” Van Acker said.

Many residents of Lansing can enjoy the park which bears the Medal of Honor recipient’s name. The George E. Ranney park sits just east of the Frandor shopping center.

“They had great respect for him, both for his war service and post war service that he gave to the Lansing community as a physician.” Van Acker said.

Ranney is interred at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Lansing.

Another mid-Michigan Medal of Honor’s name is visible all over Jackson. General William Withington.

Students at Jackson High School play at the Withington Stadium. A monument that he gave to the men he fought with, watches over the city.

The Ella Sharp Museum has a whole room dedicated to the General.

Much like Dr. Ranney, Withington was admired by his home town.

Jackson resident Bill Lowe reminisces about the General.

“I would have to guess it was unmeasurable. Because of all the people who knew him, worked for him, lived around him, participated, fought with him, you just couldn’t come up with a number” Lowe said.

After gaining much success in a farming company and a keen eye in choosing soldiers Withington quickly became a general.

Some of his men were being captured by the Confederate troops.

Instead of running, he stayed with them and became a prisoner of war during the first battle of Bull Run.

The act earned him the Medal of Honor “but not to the extent that he’d go around bragging about it. He wasn’t better than any other person in Jackson”, Lowe said.

Withington went on to represent the people of Jackson in Michigan politics, becoming a State Representative and a State Senator.

He is interred at Mount Evergreen Cemetery in Jackson.

Lowe says General Withington’s Medal of Honor is preserved in a museum in Detroit.

Dr. Ranney’s medal, we couldn’t track down.

For the simple Walter Mudell’s Medal of Honor?

Reporter: “So where does the medal go now? You’re getting older, where does it go from here?”

Downing: “Well, I have a 2 year old grandson.”

A humble mid-Michigan family man who played his part in American history.

The medal over the years has lost its shine but it’s valor shines bright for all three of these mid-Michigan men that are bound together in one elite club for eternity.

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