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Among the Enemy

A Michigan Soldier’s Civil War Journal

Edited by Mark Hoffman

Publication Year: 2013

Though many Union soldiers wrote about their experiences in the American Civil War, few had the vantage point of William Horton Kimball, a member of the First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. As a military engineer, Kimball spent most of his time behind the major lines of conflict and often worked among civilians who sympathized with the enemy. In Among the Enemy: A Michigan Soldier's Civil War Journal, author Mark Hoffman presents Kimball's journal as a unique window into wartime experience. Kimball was a prolific writer, and his journal is full of detailed accounts of expeditions into a hostile countryside, the bitter war against guerillas, and of the civilians caught in the middle of a traditional war waged with nontraditional means. He comments freely and openly on the strengths and weaknesses of his officers and comrades caught up in the same war. At the same time, Kimball provides moving accounts of when the Engineers were thrown into the line of battle at Perryville and Lavergne and proved themselves as soldiers capable of traditional combat. Through Kimball's account, readers can chart the important evolution of Union war policy regarding occupied populations, as well as how the American views of warfare broke down when combat moved from battlefield to countryside and soldiers in the rear became important targets for enemy action. Civil War historian Mark Hoffman introduces Kimball's writings and provides some background on Kimball's life as a soldier. He accompanies the journal entries with illustrations and maps. Kimball's account reminds readers that there was a time when Americans who honored the same founders and national holidays were seeking to kill each other in a bitter war behind the lines of traditional armies. Readers interested in military history and the Civil War will enjoy the inside perspective of Among the Enemy.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Great Lakes Books Series


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pp. 1-2

Half-Title Page

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pp. 3-4

Title Page

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p. 5-5


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p. 6-6


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pp. 7-8


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-12

List of Maps

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pp. xi-14

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pp. xiii-xiv

I first read the Kimball manuscript while researching the Michigan Engineers and Mechanics in the 1980s. It has been a long journey from then to now, and many people have assisted along the way. Nancy Obermayer was the first Engineers and Mechanics collaborator to concur with the importance...

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pp. 1-4

In September 1861, eighteen-year-old laborer William Horton Kimball left his family’s farm near Sandstone, Michigan, and enlisted in the Union army. Over the next thirty-eight months he served in one of the most important regiments Michigan offered to the Union cause—the First Michigan Engineers...

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1. Off to War: September 22–December 15, 1861

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pp. 5-19

William Horton Kimball was born near Hector, Schuyler County, New York, on December 1, 1842. He was the sixth child of John and Elizabeth (Horton) Kimball. Both parents were native New Yorkers. The family also included William’s siblings Anna (born 1827), Augustus (1830), Daniel (1834), Rachel...

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2. Kentucky: December 16, 1861–February 27, 1862

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pp. 21-35

By mid-December the Michigan Engineers were under orders for Kentucky, and they left Marshall amid great ceremony on the 17th. They marched as a body to the train station, loaded up onto a special train placed at their disposal, and said their good-byes. Kimball’s account of that day reflected...

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3. Nashville to Corinth: March 1–May 30, 1862

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pp. 37-46

Nashville was a city of some seventeen thousand in 1860, larger than any in Michigan save Detroit, and the Michigan Engineers took full opportunity to play tourist. Kimball and most others visited the new state capitol building and the grave of President James K. Polk. The widowed First Lady was a tourist...

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4. Bushwhackers and Railroads: June 1–September 29, 1862

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pp. 47-61

After the Confederate evacuation of Corinth, Union general Henry Halleck divided his forces into three main tasks: occupy northern Mississippi and repair supply routes in the rear; reinforce threatened points, including Arkansas; and send Buell eastward along the Memphis and Charleston Railroad...

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5. “My Brave Mechanics”: October 1–December 29, 1862

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pp. 63-74

By late September, General Buell and most of his army were together in Louisville, recovering from the hurried march north. He reorganized his forces for the upcoming campaign to drive the Confederates from Kentucky. As before, the Michigan Engineers were split into detachments and assigned to the various...

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6. Lavergne: December 30–March 19, 1863

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pp. 75-85

In late December, Rosecrans moved his army forward and prepared to battle Bragg’s Confederates in their positions outside of Murfreesboro, along Stones River. Both commanders intended the same tactic—a preemptive strike with their left flank against the enemy, but the Confederates struck first on the morning...

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7. Fortress Rosecrans: March 20–June 28, 1863

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pp. 87-95

Murfreesboro was a strategic point for control of Middle Tennessee and had been fought over for more than a year. Rosecrans was determined that it would remain safely in Union hands and serve as a major supply point for further movement southward. Upon completion in late June, the defenses at Murfreesboro...

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8. Middle Tennessee

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pp. 97-107

General Rosecrans developed a careful plan of feints and rapid advances designed to drive Bragg’s Confederates out of Middle Tennessee. The Tullahoma campaign that followed was a brilliant success, and Bragg’s army barely escaped being trapped before reaching the safety of the Tennessee River. Between...

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9. The Nashville and Northwestern: November 9, 1863–March 12, 1864

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pp. 109-120

By this time a large Union army was gathering near, or was en route to, Chattanooga, and with it came a growing demand for food, ammunition, livestock, and the other tools of war. Even if the Rebel forces were driven back from Chattanooga, a reliable and secure rail line was necessary, and Nashville was the...

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10. Railroad Blockhouses: March 13–June 27, 1864

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pp. 121-131

The Nashville and Northwestern could help ensure that supplies reached the forward base at Nashville, but the long railroad route further south was still very vulnerable to roving bands of guerillas and raids by Confederate cavalry units. Sabotaged railroad track could be quickly replaced but the key bridges and storehouses...

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11. Supplying Sherman’s Army: June 28–September 24, 1864

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pp. 133-139

By early July 1864, Sherman’s forces had pushed the Confederate army across the Chattahoochee River to within a few miles of the outskirts of Atlanta. As his army advanced, however, Sherman’s supply line grew longer and more vulnerable while his opponent’s shortened. It was critical for the Union forces...

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12. Discharge and Home: September 25–November 17, 1864

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pp. 141-152

Sherman’s forces took Atlanta in early September after hard fighting. His chief engineer, Captain Orlando M. Poe, issued orders for the scattered companies of Michigan Engineers to report to Atlanta. Several companies reached the regimental headquarters at Cartersville on September 23. Two days later...

Appendix: Kimball’s Comrades

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pp. 153-157

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Bibliographic Essay

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pp. 159-160

There are several sources for Kimball’s life before and after the Civil War. These include “Biographical Sketch,” William H. Kimball Papers, Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library; Spring Arbor Historical Commission...

Index of Names and Places

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pp. 161-168

Back Cover

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p. 186-186

E-ISBN-13: 9780814338537
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814334713

Page Count: 168
Illustrations: 14
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Great Lakes Books Series

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Kimball, William Horton, 1842-1920 -- Diaries.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • Michigan -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • United States. Army. Michigan Engineers and Mechanics Regiment, 1st (1861-1865).
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Engineering and construction.
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