Sergeant Kiester's comments in letters to his family include several that are of interest in relation to warfare innovations introduced during the Civil War. Notable are comments concerning anti-personnel land mines and a rocket battery, both of Confederate origin; a balloon ascent by General McClellan at Yorktown; and the ironclad
Other comments include complaints over Abraham Lincoln's supposed preoccupation with emancipation as a war goal rather than preservation of the Union, the $300 exemption price for draftees, the removal of General Burnside, and the involvement of Generals Meigs and McClellan in Burnside's military reverses.
On the soldier's level, Sgt. Kiester's letters comment on the destruction of standing crops in Virginia, the demolition of Hampton, Va., cowardice in battle, the conduct of Negro troops, voting for election of officers, and the shift from Austrian muskets to U.S.-made Springfield rifles by Kiester's regiment, the 103rd Pennsylvania Volunteers. The unpopularity of a new commanding officer and enlistment bounties also are mentioned.
Battles and skirmishes described in some detail include Williamsburg, Savage Station, and Franklin, Va., and Kinston, N.C. Numerous regiments are mentioned, especially those from Pennsylvania and New England.
Other letters enumerate supplies and clothing wanted for winter bivouac, and in the sole letter written from the Confederate prison in which he died, Sgt. Kiester appeals for funds.
Prior to military service, the correspondence comments on wages and prices on the Soo Canal in Wisconsin; and "hard times," prices, horse thieves, and lynch mobs at Ft. Dodge, Iowa (1854-1858).