Michael Nolan was born in Ireland in 1821, and worked as a grocer in New Orleans prior to the war. On April 28, 1861, he was commissioned a captain in Company E, 1st Louisiana Infantry, and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on April 30, 1862. Nolan was wounded at Sharpsburg, and killed at Gettysburg.
At Gettysburg, on the evening of July 2, 1863, Col. Jesse Williams' Louisiana Brigade, of Johnson's Division, was shifted to the left, to participate in the attacks on Culp's Hill. After crossing Rock Creek, Williams' reorganized the brigade into a line of battle, and then ordered the advance. After just a few steps, Col. Michael Nolan fell with a mortal wound fired by a Union skirmisher.
Col. Nolan was first buried on the battlefield. His remained were probably removed to Hollywood Cemetery, in Richmond, in the 1870s, and interred as an unknown in the "Gettysburg Dead" Section.