Letters from Various Correspondents

to Elias Riggs Monfort


Hanover students from GW143 "Autobiography: History" (Fall 2014), taught by Sarah McNair Vosmeier, transcribed these letters. The originals are available at the Duggan Library Archives, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).

For more on the people, places, and events discussed in the letters, see the Guide to the Elias Riggs Monfort Letter Collection. Other transcriptions and page images from the Monfort collection are also available.


George Spinning letter to Elias Riggs Monfort, 6 May 1863, folder 15 box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription and research by Kevin Christie, HC 2018

[Note: letter written on black-bordered stationery]

Camp Sturges near Ft Riley

Riley Co Kansas May 6th 1863

E.R. Monfort 

Dear Cousin: 

Your very welcome letter arrived yesterday, and I was glad, very glad, to hear from you: but pained to see, many unbecoming words used. 

Do not suppose that I am commencing a monotonous lecture on the habit of using profane language, for I intend no such thing. Seven long years have passed since we grasped each others hands, [damaged: to part?] perhaps, forever. We have grown from youth to manhood and yet it seems but a short time since we made "Old Ireland's woods" ring with merry shouts as we went to school together. You use to beat me in "Rays third part," but I excelled you in "Amo, Amas Amat," I do nto [sic] think that my influence small as it is, an induce you to vary from any course you see fit to pursue; but, as the early friend of your boyhood I cannot pass a fault in one whom I love, and am connected with, without giving it a friendly(?) touch. You wonder what position I occupy in the Army and how I look. I cannot give you a description of the "cut of my countenance," but the enlistment roll says that I am dark complected, dark curly hair [strikeout: and] eyes, dark. twenty one years old and five feet eleven inches high. Have been in active service for five months -- service, nearly eight. Never been wounded, but my horse "Barney" was, wounded badly by a bayonet, He is the best horse in our regiment. 

I have rode him seventy five miles a day several times, and on a ten-mile-heat, he cant be beat in the west.  He is a horse, clean limbed, well muscled, proud and fiery as any I ever saw.  I might write forty sheets of adventures that are small and insignificant in comparison with many, but they are of lifelong interest to me; some of [insert: them] I never can think of without a shudder.  There is no bright side to this war.  No matter how gay we may be, when surrounded by our friends in camp, the many revolting incidents connected with an active campagn, will cloud the lightest heart.

From the depths of my heart, I wish it was ended. though I will not go out of the army until peace is declared  I intend going to Hanover when it is over.

Mother reced a letter from Ike not long since.  I think he will come home in June.  Saw Uncle Frank not long since. He is the same, the very same, not changed a bit.  Our life since we have begun in earnest to fight has been different from any I ever imagined.  We have had a concealed enemy to deal with, and our men have often been shot down.  When we could not tell where the balls came from.  But I must draw to a close.

Direct to Geo L. Spinning Leavenworth City, Kansas. Co. C. Jemisons 1st Kan. Cav. Care of Col Anthony.

With many desires for your success and health

I remain your Affectionate Cousin

Geo L. Spinning.

Sam Ruckman, letter to E. R. Monfort, 8 June 1863, folder 15, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, IN).
Transcription and research by Zach Barnes, HC 2018

Franklin, Ohio

June 8th 1863,

Lieut E R Montfort

Old friend,

I will now try in my feeble way to fullfill the promise that I made you when I last seen you, my health is on the mend slowly, but my mind is ill at ease, the reasons for this are as follows, some one in the seventy fifth has taken the pains to write an anonymous letter to one of the rankest copperheads in the county, and in this mi sterious manuscript I am branded as a coward, he states that at the battle of Chancelersville I ran and left my regt and company, and allso that in order to keep from rallying with the rest of you I pertended to the provo guard that I was wounded and in that way passed them , now I think you know wheather that was the case or not, for you was the first man that seen that I new when we were trying to rally them men back by the artillery, where Genls Howard and McLean were. Capt Morgan was there all so, now I wish if you please you would [strikeout: please] write soon and in your letter state wheather such is the case or not, fo r such a report is not only a stain on my character [but] it allso rests on my family, and the copperheads make themselves very buisy in circulateing it for when I was at home in the spring I denounced them in the biterest terms. I allso wrote to Capt Morgan about the same thing, no doubt there will be some of my friends that will write to you or Capt Morgan concerning the valitity of the report they do not like it because it came from the copperhead source.

hopeing this may find you and all of my friends in the best of health and spirits I will close write soon yours truly

Sam Ruckman




Harris, letter to Elias Riggs Monfort, 26 Aug. 1863 Folder 15, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription and research by Drew Shafer, HC 2018

Headquarters 75th 0. V. I.

Morris Island Aug. 26th 1863

Capt. E. R. Monfort.

Dear Sir;

I am very sorry to learn by your letter that you are unable to pick out the name of the enlisted man of the 17th C. V. who received your pocket book the night you were wounded. I still have a hope that all will be right yet and that the fellow will turn up somewhere with the money

You speak of your leg doing well. I am glad to hear it. I hope you are at home ere this, under the "Paternal Roof," where you can be well cared for. I trust that in due time you will be able to join us.

No doubt you were surprised when you heard that the 75th had left the Army of the Potomac and joined the Army of South. Our whole Division is here. We have a new Div. Commander and five new regiments in this Div. alone. The whole Corps had been reinforced by quite a number of Gen. Dixes men from the Peninsula. It needed it for it lost heavy at Gettysburg. What our fate is to be here I dont know. So far they have been fighting ever since we have been here. The 75th went in last Thursday and lost one man killed and quite a number wounded.

I dont know when our fighting will end as a Regt. Not until we are all gone I suppose. We have but about one hundred & fifty men present and four Commissioned Officers: Capts. Mosey, Fox Lt. Haskell and myself. Lt. Ladly is home after Conscripts.

We are encamped on the beach close down to the water's edge and no great distance from Ft. Wagoner. It is at this Fort that the fighting has all been done at. The range is too long to fire over Wagoner at sumter with the effect desired. And yet the success so far has been good for the South side of the Ft. is now a huge mass of mins [mines].

But it ought to be for some of our largest guns have been playing on it for the week past. Two of these guns throw a three hundred pound shot.
An assault will be made on some of these Forts soon no doubt and take them by storm. I hope they will.

I am not permitted to write any of the minutia of the [siege?] or I would gladly write many things that would be of great interest to you.

Aug 27th My writing last night was brought to a close very suddenly by the Brigade being ordered up to the front.  We lay there under our guns all night in the sand.  I don't think I ever saw it rain harder or more steady in my life than it did all night long.  We were too much concerned about our enemies to notice it much.  We advanced our lines to within a few yards of Ft Wagoner last night.  One of the Regt. made a charge and took about 70 prisoners.  Many were killed on both sides.  The 75th lost none.

You will be happy to learn that we have thrown away the Shelter tents here and the [Companion?] tent, or, "A" tent in their place. This is a happy change indeed for the men.  [We have?] all the wall tents we want and can have all the baggage we need -- so you see in some respects we are better off here than in the Army of the Potomac.  This Island is very unhealthy.  Many of the men are now sick.  Some of the Regts that have been here for some time are nearly half sick.  This is rather discourageing but I think we will whip the "Rebs" and better our condition by moving further inland.
I have not time to write more.

The Offices [officers] join in sending you their respects and hope that you may soon be able to be with us.

Wrte Often and direct to 75th OVI Ames Brigade Morris Island Dept of the South

I am sir

Most sincerely

Your friend


P.S. We are to be reviewed tomorrow by Gen Gilmore



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