The letters in this collection were written by Horton Keith, to his family in Sheldon, Vermont. The majority of the letters were written when he served in the Civil War; however, there are few earlier letters which Keith wrote when he was a student at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire (1858-1860), and when he was a student as the University of Vermont (February to July 1861).
Keith wrote regularly to his parents and sister "Kate" during the war; his letters span the period from his enlistment in October 1861 until after he was wounded in May 1864. Most of the letters were written in 1863. In addition to Horton Keith's letters, the collection includes a few other letters to the Keith family from Vermont men serving in the war. These include: Col. Nathan Lord, Capt. Robert Y. Holley, and Captain Elisha L. Barney (1832-1864) of Swanton, Vt.
Alfred Horton Keith, known as Horton, was the oldest child of Alfred Keith (1817-1887?) and Anna Douglass Horton of Sheldon, Vermont. Keith joined the 6th Regiment of the Vermont Infantry, Company K, on October 15, 1861, as a Second Lieutenant. He served through the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse (May 10, 1864) when he was severely wounded. He received a medical discharge in September 1864 and in March 1865 he received the brevet of Lieutenant Colonel.
Horton Keith married first Emily Raymond and had one daughter, Charlotte Douglass. He married second (1887) Henrietta Hyde Shelton by whom he had four children: Kate, Mabel, Alfred Shelton, and Elizabeth. He died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1910 after a career in the steel industry.