Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Kimball mss., 1828-1908, are letters and papers of Nathan Kimball, 1823?-1898, physician and soldier. Born on November 22, 1823? in Fredericksburg, Posey Township, Washington County, Indiana, Kimball matriculated in 1839 at Asbury College but did not graduate. In 1841 after leaving college he taught school in Independence, Missouri, for a time and tried farming before undertaking the study of medicine in 1843. In May, 1846 he raised in his native town a company known as the Posey Guards, for service in the Mexican War, which became Company G of the 2nd Regiment of Indiana volunteers, of which Kimball was commissioned captain. This company served in the battle of Buena Vista.

In 1847 Kimball was mustered out of the service at New Orleans and returned to Indiana. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was practicing medicine at Loogootee, Martin County, Indiana. Immediately upon the receipt of the news of the fall of Fort Sumter he recruited a company of volunteers in Martin County, which was assigned as part of the 14th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, of which Kimball was commissioned colonel on May 22, 1861. Kimball served throughout the war rising to the rank of Brevet Major General. He saw service in the Shenandoah Valley, in the Army of the Potomac, in the Vicksburg campaign, in Arkansas, and in the Army of the Cumberland. In Arkansas in 1864 after the capture of Little Rock he was placed in charge of the registering of loyal citizens preparatory to the reorganization of the Arkansas state government.

Following his discharge on August 24, 1865 Kimball returned to Indiana in which state he helped to organize the Grand Army of the Republic and became its state commander. He was elected Indiana state treasurer in 1866 and 1868 and a member of the state legislature in 1872.

On Dec. 27, 1873 Kimball was appointed surveyor general of Utah by General Grant. He lived in Utah for the remainder of his life, holding an appointment as postmaster of Ogden City from 1879 until his death.

The Kimball mss. include in the main papers relating to the services of the Posey Guards in the Mexican War and papers relating to Kimball's Civil War service. The Civil War papers relate particularly to the campaigns in which he took part in Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas, and are to a large extent of an official military nature, including many orders, letters from superior officers, etc. There are, in addition, some non-military papers of the Indiana and Utah periods of his life.

A number of prominent persons are represented in the collection, including two presidents of the United States, Ulysses Simpson Grant and Rutherford Birchard Hayes; three governors of Indiana, James Whitcomb, Oliver Perry Morton, and Conrad Baker; some other political figures, Joseph Lane, James C. Denny, William H. H. Terrell, Richard Wigginton Thompson, David McKendree Key, Robert James Walker, John Wanamaker; numerous Civil War generals, William Henry French, Oliver Otis Howard, Stephen Augustus Hurlbut, Richard James Oglesby, Joseph Jones Reynolds, William Starke Rosecrans, John McAllister Schofield, Philip Henry Sheridan, William Tecumseh Sherman, David Sloan Stanley, Frederick Steele, John Milton Thayer, George Henry Thomas, Cadwallader Colden Washburn, James Grant Wilson, Oliver Morris Wilson, and Thomas John Wood; two physicians, James S. Athon and Frisby S. Newcomer; and a lawyer, Elijah H.C. Cavins.

The collection contains manuscript maps of Cheat Mountain, the Vicksburg campaign, Peach Tree Creek, and Snake River.

See the reference to the Kimball mss. in Herman J. Viola, "Zachary Taylor and the Indiana Volunteers," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 72:3 (January 1969), pp. 335-346.

Purchase. 1950

Collection size: 510 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.