Joseph Kimmel

Second cousin, Joseph Kimmel, fought on Mississippi rams,

Story attached.


Joseph Kimmel

Joseph enlisted in Illinois as a member of an often neglected army unit originally designated Colonel Ellet's Ram Fleet,

Mississippi River Ram Fleet and Marine Brigade

In March 1862, the Union Army  authorized the noted civil engineer Charles Ellet, Jr.  to establish a flotilla of steam rams for employment on the Western Rivers. Ellet converted several powerful river towboats, by heavily reinforcing their hulls for ramming. These ships had light protection for their boilers, engines and upper works (upper works were protected with wood and cotton). They were originally given no artillery, later they were fitted with several guns. With the rank of Colonel, Ellet led his force in action during the Battle of Memphis on June 6, 1862, where rams played an important role in the Union  victory against the Confederate River Defense Fleet. However, Colonel Ellet died several days later of a wound received at that action.

Mississippi Marine Brigade

After Ellet's death, his younger brother Alfred W. Ellet  took command of the rams. The unit was reorganized as the Mississippi Marine Brigade. Under the younger Ellet's leadership, the rams figured prominently in actions around and below Vicksburg, Mississippi, into 1863. Ellet's ram fleet was under the command of the Army even after the transfer of the Western Gunboat Flotilla to the Navy and was always somewhat independent of Navy command. The Ellet fleet was disestablished in August 1864, and its surviving ships were transferred to other duties.

Joseph Kimmel was a "river soldier", serving on the Monarch and then the
Switzerland. The objective of the MMB was to patrol up and down the
Mississippi River and it's tributaries looking for rebels on the river bank.
When rebels were located, the soldiers would deploy to land, as rebel cavalry
and raiders often fired upon Union shipping along the river.

After fitting out at New Albany, Monarch began active duty with the Ram Fleet. Steaming downriver in May, she scouted Fort Pillow in June and joined Benton, Louisville, Carondelet, St. Louis, Cairo, and her sister ship, Queen of the West in the Battle of Memphis 6 June. Engaging the Confederate River Defense Fleet, the rams destroyed seven of the southern ships, wiping out the Defense Fleet as an effective naval force. Monarch rammed CSS Colonel Lovell  and General Beauregard. The Union forces took Memphis  6 June, clearing the upper Mississippi of southern forts and naval craft. On 26 June, Monarch and Lancaster pursued General Earl Van Dorn down the Mississippi and up the Yazoo City, the Confederates burning the ship below Yazoo City to prevent her capture.

Beginning in June, Monarch operated against Vicksburg, Mississippi. Monarch and five other ships departed Helena, Arkansas,  16 August on an Army -Navy expedition up to Yazoo River with troops landing at various points along the shore and destroying batteries on the river. Union ships captured CSS Fairplay above Vicksburg 27 August; Monarch then cruised the Yazoo with General Bragg to prevent Confederate use of steamer Paul Jones and to hinder communications with Vicksburg. Later that year, Monarch swept torpedoes  in the Yazoo.

In August 1864, the War Department terminated the command, and the troops
were removed and became a standard land-based fighting regiment, becoming at
that point the 1st Mississippi Marine Brigade, Co. A. Joseph Kimmel was
discharged then January 1865.

Inasmuch as most searches concentrate on the State Regiments, the search is
not successful for those who served in the MMB. Many genealogists or Civil
War "experts" don't know of it. Present day descendants looking for their
Grandpa, probably won't find his records, if he served with the MMB.
However, a researcher retained by a descendant of Joseph reports that the MMB kept very poor records, and that many who had served, were not able to collect pensions as there was no record of their service.

Source:, accessed 4oct2010

Compiled by L. L. Kimmel, Second cousin 4X removed

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