This letter was written by Sylvester Kimball (1836-1863) of Co. H, 6th Michigan Infantry. The regiment was mustered into service on 20 August 1861 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and left the state ten days later for Baltimore, Maryland, where they were attached to Gen. Dix’s command. Sylvester enlisted as a corporal in Co. H on 9 August 1861 at Charlotte, Eaton county, Michigan. At the time of his enlistment, he was described as standing 5 feet 8 inches tall, with blue eyes and brown hair—a farmer by profession. He died of typhoid fever at the regimental hospital in Port Hudson, Louisiana, on 21 August 1863.
Sylvester was the son of David and Margaret (Van Allen) Kimball of Jefferson county, New York, who first moved with their family to Penfield, Lorain county, Ohio, and then to Sunfield, Eaton county, Michigan. Sylvester was married to Marintha M. Kinne (1840-1903) on 30 January 1859. They had one child named Charles L. Kimball (b. 16 November 1860) prior to Sylvester’s enlistment.
[Baltimore, Maryland] ¹
September the 8th 1861
I am well today and hope these few lines will find you the same. It is Sunday today and it is very pleasant here today.
The Seventh [Michigan] Regiment has come in town today but they are going on to Washington in about a half an hour. ² We expect to stay here some time and we are all willing to stay for it is very pleasant. We are on a hill where we can see the whole city. Almost every house is built of brick. We are guarding a house that has got 80 tons of cartridges in it. The rebels built it in one night and filled [it] and Colonel McClellan took it and the holes are in the ends now where he went in. It is made of brick.
We can see the salt water from here and Fort McHenry and a camp of cavalry. The vessels are piled in there. The masts look like an old Tamarack Swamp. There is wagon loads of fresh oyster fetched here everyday in the shells for three shillings per bushel, peaches without end, and there is no end to the niggers either.
There has been a little scratch not far from here and the North whipped them and never lost a man and only got two wounded. There is some rebels here but they dare not peep. There was a lot of teamsters passed here last night and the alarm was given that they was rebels and was agoing to attack us and in about three minutes every man had his gun loaded and formed into company. One feller in Company K was so scared that he shit his britches but the mistake was soon found out and we went to bed again. I was not no more scared than I am most.
I can’t write anymore now so goodbye for this time. Give my love to all for I can write to all. I hain’t had a letter since we left Marshall. I would like to hear from you all very much. Direct your letters to Sylvester Kimball, Company H, Six Regiment Michigan Infantry.
From Sylvester Kimball
To all great and small, big and little, short and tall.
¹ The 6th Michigan Infantry were encamped at McKim’s Hill on the McKim family estate south of Green Mount Cemetery near the old St. John the Evangelist Church in Baltimore. The location served as the site of a Union hospital later in the war.
² The 7th Michigan Regiment arrived in Baltimore a week after the 6th Michigan but were sent on to Washington while the 6th remained in Baltimore to guard a Baltimore magazine. “Unsympathetic to the assignment given their fellow Michiganders, the members of the 7th Michigan promised that ‘while the 6th were employed in guarding the powder, the 7th would go forward and help burn it.” [Source: General Henry Baxter, 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry: A biography, by Jam C. Martin, page 49]