Manning Marius Kimmel (also known as Marius Manning Kimmel) was born in Perry County, Missouri, on October 25, 1832. He was the second of two children of Joseph Singleton Husband Kimmel and Caroline Monica (Manning) Kimmel. His father was a successful merchant and a member of the St. Louis City Council between 1840 and 1850. Kimmel never knew his mother, who died during his birth. Kimmel had three step-brothers and sisters, the product of his father’s marriage to Sarah Gorgas in 1836.
Kimmel attended Princeton University, where according to family legend, officials dismissed him during his junior year for sponsoring a student protest meeting over a faculty injunction against students patronizing a local billiard-saloon. After leaving Princeton, Kimmel received an appointment to the United States Military Academy. He entered West Point on July 1, 1853, and graduated on July 1, 1857, ranked twenty-second in his class of thirty-eight cadets.
U.S. Army Officer
Following his graduation, army officials brevetted Kimmel to second lieutenant and sent him to cavalry school at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. On August 18, 1858, the army promoted Kimmel to the full rank of second lieutenant with the 2nd U.S. Cavalry and deployed him to Texas. Kimmel spent the next two years campaigning against Comanche Indians and Mexican marauders on the frontier. On April 1, 1861, the army promoted Kimmel to first lieutenant.
Union to Confederate Army Officer
With the onset of the American Civil War, the army recalled the 2nd Cavalry to the East in defense of Washington, DC. On July 21, 1861, Kimmel and the 2nd Cavalry took part in the Union debacle at the First Battle of Bull Run. After returning to the defenses of Washington, Kimmel resigned his commission in the U.S. Army on August 14, 1861, and joined the Confederate army with the rank of major.
Kimmel’s first assignment in the Rebel army was as adjutant-general on Brigadier-General Ben McCulloch’s staff until McCulloch died during the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas on March 7, 1862. Kimmel was next assigned as assistant adjutant-general on the staff of Major General Earl Van Dorn, until a jealous husband killed Van Dorn on May 7, 1863. After serving briefly as the Confederate adjutant-general of Missouri, Kimmel finished the war as acting assistant and inspector-general on the staff of Major General J. B. Magruder.
Flight to Mexico
Fearing reprisals for his role in the rebellion, Kimmel fled to Mexico City when the war ended. He worked there as a civil engineer before returning to Missouri in 1866.
On December 28, 1868, Kimmel married Sibbella Lambert. Four years later, the couple moved to Henderson, Kentucky, and established a household. Their marriage, which lasted forty-eight years, produced seven children. Among them was Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Kimmel worked as a civil engineer for St. Bernard Mining Company at St. Charles, Kentucky, from 1872 to 1884. He lived in Henderson for the rest of his life and served on the community’s school board and city council.
On February 27, 1916, Kimmel died at his home after being stricken by a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of eighty-three. He was interred at Fernwood Cemetery in Henderson.
Kimmel was one of four West Point graduates to fight initially for the Union during the Civil War before switching sides. The others were Richard K. Meade, William T. Magruder, and Donald C. Stith.