Civil War Letters
from the Elias Riggs Monfort Papers

Excerpts for Discussion, Nov. 24, 2014

The following letters are available at the Duggan Library Archives, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Other transcriptions and page images from the Monfort collection are also available.



Maggie Monfort, letter to Elias Monfort, 23 Jan. 1862, folder 1, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Ricky Windell, HC 2017.

Glendale Female Col. January 23rd

Dear brother

When you read this you will probably be on your way to Virginia. And I shall be at home thinking of you. Shall I ever see you again? It may be that you will return, or it may be that God has designed that you shall fall on the battle field if this is the will of God we must submit. but I shall earnestly beseech him every day to spare you and return you to us again. and if my prayers will avail any thing, there shall many go up to the throne of grace. And liable as you are to be killed almost any moment, should you not always be prepared Are you prepared? I fear not. Do you not think you ought to be? _ _ _ _ Then when will you prepare your self by humbly falling at the throne of God and asking him to pardon you and direct you in the way in which you should go? If you do this you will be so much happier. My dear brother I know that you do not expect to die unprepared but now is the time. You may never have another chance, for God says "Boast not thy self of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." tomorrow may never come to you. Your life may be o er before tomorrow. Oh then, why not prepare so that if such be the case you may be ready to meet God and render a good account of the talents he has committed to your keeping?   Now dear brother do think about this matter. I beseech you. and [crossed out: for] if I Should never meet you again in this world, let me hope that I may meet you in heaven. a ransomed soul. Do not think I would have [you] fear death, and shrink from offering up your life for your country. but all I want is that when called upon to leave this world you may be able to feel that you have a home in the skies and a friend in Jesus. who can never be taken from you. But I hope that you may be spared through the whole and be instrumental in bringing peace to our distracted country. Be careful of yourself and your men. do whatever you consider your duty to yourself and your country. but keep yourself out of unneccessary danger. Be kind to your men. if you see one wearied with his heavy burden, lighten him if you can. if you see any one hungry share your bread with him. and whenever you see any way of helping any poor soldier do it and you will make them love you more. and wish to assist you in anyway they may be able.

And now,  dear brother, I have no more time, and all I wish is that you may do your duty and take care of yourself. Write as often as you can.

Goodbye. Your affectionate sister

Maggie E. Montfort


Maggie Monfort, letter to Elias Riggs Monfort, 29 Jan. 1862, folder 1, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription and research by Brittany Slaughter, HC 2018

Letter No. 1

Glendale Female College

Wednesday January 29/th

Dear brother Elias

It seems strange to think that a few day ago you were near home and now  you are at the seat of war. I hope you will be better pleased with your destination than you anticipated. We have been anxiously waiting to hear from you but I suppose it is not yet time and I hope we shall hear before you receive this. When you write tell us all about where you are, what you are doing, what you expect to do. I intend to number all my letters to you so that you may know whether [insert: you] get them all or not. Tomorrow and the day after are examination day's. Mr Willson has sent special invitations to persons here, and has written to a  great many "clergymen," from Lockland, Redding, Sharon and Springdale requesting them attend, if they could. Sallie Furman and myself are the only ones in the Cicero class, and having finished all we intend to study in this book, we were to [strikeout: have been] examined Friday morning but we went to Father and asked him to excuse us, which he did, because we have so much else to prepare. Tomorrow, I have to be examined on the first four books of Geometry and Friday our classes in Chemistry and Rhetoric. . . .

As soon as you get a chance I would like to have you get your picture taken and send it home to me. I am anxious to have it, please do it as soon as you possibly can. don't forget. Father told me to ask you and Frank spoke about it in one of his letters, so don't forget it. Mrs. Furman and Sallie send their respects to you. There is nothing else new here. All send love. Write as often as you can and write long,  long, long, long letters.

Your affectionate sister

Maggie E Montfort

P.S. . . . Miss Tracey told me to tell you to look out for her brother. He belongs to the 2nd Carolina regiment. (She does not know whether he is near you or not) but if you ever take him prisoner be kind to him. I am glad your revolver fires well or "to perfection" as you said. For I want you to have every possible chance to take care of yourself. . . .


Elias Riggs Montfort, letter to Maggie Montfort, 5 March 1862, folder 1, box 1, The Elias Riggs Monfort Papers, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Madeline McElroy, HC 2017.

Camp Milroy March 5th /62

Dear Sister

Your letter was received and read with much interest. Though it produced rather an unpleasant sensation it gave me a fit of the blues, I think you have a great deal of impudence to ask me how I enjoyed the 22nd of February out here in this God for saken wooden country after inummerating the splended review & the Grand Parade and the brilliante illuminations of the city [.] The happy spectators crowding about the city through the mud regardless health and future happiness only thinking of the present. I will However answer your question on that unfortunate day the Bloody Seventy Fifth might have been seen winding its way carelessly over the Laurel mountains wet to the skin from the rain which poured down incessantly from Eight in the morning till between 9 & ten then it began to freeze & hail after dinner it seemed as if all the Elements were indeed combined to stop yet on we went regardless of any thing but to reach a good camping ground and sending a thousand curses at those who were the causes of our being placed in [crossed out: under] these unfortunate circimstanses[.] That day I carried one knapsack & two guns besides my own traps making a load of about sixty pounds [.] Boots would not save a mans feet from being wet on that day as clothes became saturated and watter would naturaly run in them. With all the excitement of the march I kept "cool" rather to cool to be comfortable. . . .

Your Affcete Brother

E.R. Montfort.

In this I send you a bunsh of winter green the woods are carpeted with them in many places


[Note that the dried plants are still with the original letter in the Duggan Library Archives.]

George Perkins, letter to Emma Taylor, 29 Oct. 1862, folder 10, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Dalton Harrell.

Dear Friend:

I have but a few words of sad intelligence to write.  Another one, loved by those who knew him, and ever to be remembered for the many noble and manly traits that adorned his character, is no more.  Ethan Brown has gone; Columbus Metcalf has followed!  Their fates were similar.  Wounded -- in the hospital -- a burning fever -- death.  Sorrowing relatives have received the remains of our late friend, and he now rests in the soil trod by him since childhood.  He exhibited noble daring on the field where he was wounded -- leaving an official post that relieved him from duty in battle, and engaging in the strife at its thickest and deadliest points -- with a courage worthy the best and the bravest. -- But he is gone; and the many pleasant visits that we had arranged for an uncertain future to our friends of college days are dispelled in the force of a sterner decree.
In Haste

Geo Perkins


E. R. Monfort, letter to Maggie Monfort, 6 Nov. 1862, folder 3, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind).
Transcription by Graham Denning, HC 2017.

Hay Market Va Nov 6th 1862

Dear Sister

Your letters seem to come less frequent again and I am becoming again a little blue & anxious to return home. More so since Father payed me a visit which was a very pleasant one indeed. Through his influence I was permited to visit Washington & spend a fue days in peace free from all care & duty which always are unpleasant appendages to an officer in an active campaign in the [Enemies?]  country. We left Centerville on Sunday Morning camped at Manassas junction & imediately went out to perform Picket duty were much troubled by the Enemies cavelry all night & Proceded to this place via Bull Run Battle field in the Morning where now are camped[.]  the weather is very cold & disagreeable we spend the night in keeping up fires cutting wood &c in order to keep our selves warm. I hope we shall soon get some tents or go in to winter quarters some where as it is impossible for men to survive & remain exposed to to the weather I could stand it very well in the Summer with neither tent or  blanket but now I can not . . .

I am as ever Your Affect Bro

E R Montfort


Elias Riggs Monfort, letter to Maggie Monfort, 9 Jan 1863, folder 1, box 1,  Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription and research by Trey Sparks, HC 2017.

Staffords C. H., Jan. 9

Dear Sister,

Your welcome letter came to hand today bringing with the fond recolection of the happy past when I had the pleasure of engaging with you all in the festivities of the winter holow days. It would have have done me good to have been with you all. You ask me how I spent my Christmas & New Years days.   I scarcely knew when they passed by. In anticipation of Christmas dinner the Captain sent Lieutenant Ruckman to Aquia Creek landing to procure some thing if it was possible. He purchased one pound of butter for 75 cents and priced some other articles among them a goose which $3.00. It had been cooked in Washington and brought up in the river but he concluded he would not get it and came back so I had hard crackers, salt pork, coffee for breakfast. Pork crackers Butter for dinner. Butter crackers & Pork for supper. You can readily imagine how we enjoyed these rare luxuries of life which are so rare to us. Surely Ike must be a happy man to have such a family as he took to the Bible Panorama on his family and complimentarey ticket.  Col Constable with 3 captains the Adjutant [and?] two Lieutenants have either sent in their resignations or will immediately because they cannot endorse the President's proclamation. this leaves open a wide field for for the ambitious [juniors?]  do you not think so. We have warm political fights on the Negro question in this Regiment and ambition prompts us not to fight to hard for fear of changeing the minds of our Superiors and thereby keeping them in the way of our promotion. Do not say that we do wrong in this for what are men worth in the army who are are continually poisoning the minds of their men and creating dissatisfaction among them. And if for no other motive than the good of the Cause I consider it my duty do all I can to get rid of them.

I was on out Post Picket duty yesterday & do not feel much like writing now and you must excuse all mistakes as I kneed rest and can not of cause do justice to this letter. There is nothing more of importance to write at present. We have heard that Rosencrantz was successful at Murfrees borough] & hope it is true when you write tell me I received a letter from cousin Edward Riggs at Elizabeth N .L. He is well & enjoying his holow days finely Is George at Glendale now[?] if so please tell him to answer my last letter if he can find time. Has Frank [crossed out: joined the army yet] returned to  returned to Crawfordsville as yet if so I will write to him in a [few?]. Tell Sallie to write if her ma is willing

Write Soon & believe me your

Affectionate Brother

E.R. Montfort

I have not time to read this over before the mail goes.


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

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.


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;

. . . 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. . . .

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. . . .

I am sir

Most sincerely

Your friend


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


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