Fiddler’s Green: Manning Marius Kimmel
In an odd turn of events, I discovered a regular cavalry connection linking First Bull Run and Pearl Harbor.
Manning Marius Kimmel was born near Apple Creek, Perry County, Missouri on October 25, 1832. His mother, Caroline Monica Manning, died as a result of his birth. His father, Joseph Singleton Husband Kimmel, was a successful merchant and member of the St Louis city council between 1840 and 1850. He had an older sister, Julia, and three younger siblings after his father remarried.
Kimmel attend Princeton University until he was dismissed during his junior year. He then secured an appointment to West Point in July 1853. He graduated in the middle of his class, 22 of 38, on July 1, 1857, a classmate of Marcus Reno. He was initially appointed a brevet second lieutenant of cavalry, as there were no vacancies in the two cavalry regiments at the time he graduated. Kimmel attended the Cavalry School for Practice at Carlisle, PA while awaiting his appointment as an officer. On August 18, 1858, he received his appointment as a second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Cavalry and was assigned to Company G.
Lieutenant Kimmel proceeded at once to his regiment in Texas, joining his company at Camp Radziminski under Captain William Bradfute. In a unique series of events, he assumed command of Company G on February 10, 1859. Captain Bradfute shot and killed one of the privates in Company K after a disagreement involving the private punching the captain in the face. Although found not guilty after a military investigation, Captain Bradfute was subsequently involved in civil court proceedings over the death which lasted until early 1861 when he resigned to join the Confederacy. Since the company’s first lieutenant was away on recruiting duty, command of the company fell to Second Lieutenant Kimmel. He would command the company for the remainder of his time in the regiment.
Soon after assuming command, Kimmel and Company G joined five other companies of the 5th U.S. Cavalry under Captain Earl Van Dorn for a spring campaign against the Comanche. On May 13, 1859, the regiment engaged a force under Buffalo Hump in what became known as the battle of Crooked Creek. Lieutenant Kimmel and his company served as skirmishers in the fight. Lieutenant Fitzhugh Lee was a friend of Kimmel’s. Although serving as adjutant for the campaign, he joined Kimmel’s company for the fight. It was nearly his last, as he took a nearly fatal arrow wound in the chest. Kimmel had a bullet pass through his hat, but was otherwise unscathed in his first enemy action. After the campaign, the company shifted to Fort Inge for the remainder of the year.
In 1860 they were ordered to Brownsville as a result of the hostilities there between Texans and marauders under Juan N. Cortina. Company G and Captain George Stoneman’s Company E joined Texas Rangers under Rip Ford for a brief incursion into Mexico near Reynosa in April. The remainder of Kimmel’s stay in Texas was relatively uneventful. He participated in the regiment’s withdrawal through Indianola according to the terms of General Twiggs’ surrender, and after landing in New York City accompanied the regiment to the cavalry depot at Carlisle, PA. Kimmel disembarked to learn that he was promoted to first lieutenant, but stayed with Company G. Many of his comrades, including his friend Fitzhugh Lee, resigned their commissions and rode south to join the Confederacy.
After a few short weeks of training with new horses and equipment, the regiment returned to the field. While most of the regiment moved south under Major George Thomas to near Harpers Ferry, Kimmel’s Company G was ordered to the defenses of Washington. He served there until July, when his company was assigned to a composite battalion of regular cavalry under Major Innis Palmer. The battalion was subsequently assigned to Tyler’s division, where they served in the battle of Bull Run on July 21st. It played no major part in the battle until the end. While they spent much of the day supporting artillery batteries, they formed the backbone of the rear guard during the army’s headlong retreat from the battlefield.
Evidently the battle evoked a realization that he couldn’t fight against the Confederacy. After seeing his company settled into position picketing to the west of the city, Kimmel took leave of them. The decision was apparently made due to conversations with one of his fellow company commanders from the battle, Captain Francis K. Armstrong of Company K, 2nd U.S. Dragoons. The two travelled to Louisville together, where both resigned their commissions at the Galt House. Armstrong resigned on the 13th and Kimmel on the 14th. Both went to work on the staff of Brigadier General Ben McCulloch as majors.
Kimmel never again led troops in battle, remaining a staff officer. He served as an adjutant general on McCulloch’s staff until he was killed at the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas on March 7, 1862. He was then reunited with Earl Van Dorn, now a Confederate major general. He worked as an assistant adjutant general for Van Dorn, and accidentally admitted the man who shot him on May 7, 1863. After a brief stint as the Confederate Adjutant General of Missouri, he finished the war on the staff of Major General John B. Magruder.
Fearing reprisal for his Confederate service, Kimmel fled to Mexico City from Houston when the war ended. He worked as an engineer for the City of Mexico and Vera Cruz Railroad for about a year, returning to Cape Girardeau, Missouri in late 1866.
In 1868 Kimmel married Sibbella Lambert. Their marriage lasted 48 years and produced seven children. Three of his sons joined the Navy. Not long after their marriage they moved to Kentucky. Manning worked as the superintendent of the St. Bernard Coal Company in St. Charles, KY from 1872-1885. In 1885 he settled in Henderson, KY where he worked as a coal dealer and real estate agent. He also served on the school board and city council.
Manning Kimmel died of a cerebral hemorrhage at his home on February 27, 1916. He was 83 years old. He is buried with his wife in Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson, Kentucky.
His son Husband, serving in the Navy at sea at the time of his father’s death, went on to be the admiral of the Pacific Fleet on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.