Elias R. Monfort Collection

Excerpts for Discussion Nov. 6, 2015


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 Molly Murphy, HC 2017.

Glendale Female Col.  January 23rd 1862

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 anything. 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 yourself 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 ver 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 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 countrys bell.   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 unnecessary danger. Be kind to your men. If you see one wearied with his heavy burden, lighten him if you can. if you see anyone 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 any way 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 C. Montfort


E. R. Monfort, letter to Miss Maggie C.  Monfort,  19 May 1862, folder 2, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).

Transcription by Alex Weeden, HC 2017.

Franklin, Pendleton  county W. Va.

May 19th 1862

Dear sister,

. . . We had more men killed & wounded in the 75th Regt in that fight than any regt at Pittsburgh l anding in the great fight of the war the 75th lost 9 men killed & 43 wounded this may seem small but it is a good many men for one regt to loose we have a Lieut. Thomas in this Regt who was in nine battles in Mexico & say he never was as hot a fight for the same length of time in his life. Our men fought desperately our coller sergt was shot down & a young fellow by the name of Mike Bradie seized the collers & held them up amidst a shower of  bullets the colonel went  to the flag took it & waived it in defiance at them the Major mounted on a stump & followed & cheered the men until he was quite hoarse.  Captain Morgan stood upon the highest rigde & pointed to the men where they could fire to best advantage.  I never saw cooler & more daring courage in my life & either read of it. 

I saw men fall dead around me & wounded.  It seemed as I were in a dream.  It seemed so unnatural to see the quiet major waiving his cap & hollowing with his hair flying as if he were a demon & the roar of musketry it seemed as if all the fiends of hell were let loose & were wreaking their vengence upon us.  I was arroused by a negro preacher who came with the regt. Who had procured a rifle & was firing a way exclaiming in almost tones of thunder you belong to the deavil & the deavil must have you.  God is with us & God will protect us & may other similar

[letter continues, overwritten on first page:]
Things.  . . .

Your affect Broth

E.R. Montfort.


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


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,

. . . 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.


J. Gordon Taylor to Emma A. Taylor, 17 June 1863, folder 8, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription and research by Josh Ford, HC 2018, and Sakib Haque, HC 2018 (and Sarah McNair Vosmeier)


Head Quarters "Reserves Corps"
Triune Tenn. June 17 1863

Dear Em,

. . . I have long since ceased to complain or criticize, as I can see what obstacles are to be overcome and could the newspaper wiseacres be here and see and know what is done, they would go home with greatly different ideas as to carrying on the war. They would then devote their energies to prosecuting the war and to encouraging those who are daily dying that others at home may enjoy peace. This miserable wrangling about "party" would be done anyway with and men like Vallandigham, with his peace party would be given as food to the birds of the air, and all who mourned their fate be banished as traitors to the country. When I see such proceedings as the "Democrats" were engaged in, in my own native state, I begin to despair. We have arrived at the condition of Sodom and lack the "little leaven" that would save us from destruction. I am not one to give up but I feel as if all efforts were to prove in vain, and the utmost that can be done, is to show the world, that it cannot be charged against those who are now in the field.  Thanks to the provisions of the State of Ohio, her soldiers are allowed a vote, and if fraud and corruption does not interpose, they will secure a republican, war-prosicuting Governor.  The Copperheads at home have written and are still writing their treachorous suggestions to the men in the army, until there exists a wide spread disaffection in the ranks.  But enough of this.  I expect you think I have a fit of blues come over me this morning. "There is a good time coming" though to see it may require more faith than I can at present muster, but will try to "labor and to wait."  This is a long introduction to the Journal part of the Epistle, but it is at last reached. . . .

Thursday June 11th.  This morning the quiet was broken by the booming of rebel cannon and the shrill scream of the shell, as they rushed past impatient for victims.  We soon were on horseback and in a few minutes after the Gen. had a battery working in reply. He sighted the guns himself and the position became very interesting. One shell struck within five feet of the Gen. another exploded among the caissons fortunately doing no damage, branches of trees dropped all around us, but we were not alone. Our guners worked bravely and soon the rebel fire began to slacken and in about twenty minutes it ceased altogether. It was the first time I had been under fire and as the first few shells flew much too high I did not care much, but as they began to get the range they came lower and lower until the chips flew from the trees about the heighth of my breast, and finally to plough up the ground around us, and then I thought it would be more comfortable elsewhere. I looked at the General who was working away and kept with him thinking I could stay if he could and as each shot was fired he would encourage the men until all encouragement wore away and they worked as coolly and quietly as if they were simply at drill. In a hollow between the rebel battery and our own, was posted a regeiment of our cavalry, and the firing was all done over their heads. At first they were very nervous but the sight of the General and a few words of encouragement restored order. His presence seemed to restore confidence and they all seemed to feel that where he was there could nothing hurt them. During the fire a body of rebel cavalry rushed out from the cover of the woods, across a large meadow evidently intending to cut off and capture a squad of our men who were thrown out as skirmishers as they were galloping across the Gen. trailed a gun upon them and fired. The shell struck in their very center and one rebel dropped from his saddle, another shell followed and still another and in confusion they all scattered and ran into the woods, evidently tired of their undertaking. When the battery was silenced, our cavalry went out in pursuit and after driving them across, the Harpeth [River], returned. We lost five killed and eleven wounded, killing nineteen rebels capturing three and wounding how many we of course do not know. Returned at two o' clock with a good appetite, glad that matters had turned out so well. . . .

Tuesday June 16th. Received letter from Pa and one from Kate yesterday. I did not know the O.F.C. [Ohio Female College] commencement took place so early. Did Farmer's College hurry theirs up too. Shall expect an account of the proceedings from "Tom" in a day or two. I wrote to her last Sunday. Here ends the chapter. A dull one it will prove too. We are enjoying very warm weather now, the thermometer standing at about 98 or 100. I do not complain as this is what suits me. We live high now, having peas, seed, potatoes, cherries and such in abundance. As soon as I know where we are to be I will write you. I showed your letter to the General, but he did not seem to think there was much chance of your coming soon. But now good bye. Kiss all for me and give them any amount of love. I hope you remembered me to all the girls at parting.

Your aff. Brother



J. Gordon Taylor to Emma A. Taylor, 31 Oct. 1863, folder 6, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).

Transcription by Ashlyn Scott, HC 2019, and Sarah McNair Vosmeier

Chattanooga Tenn. Oct. 31st/63

Dear Em

Cloudy and cold is the last day of October, and the fire is very comfortable. November has spread out its gloomy sky before its time, but we make all cheerful within doors for contrast. Your "Continental" was received yesterday and was very welcome. It looked like an old friend. For the past ten days our mails have been few and far between and as a consequence letters are in great demand. However I received one from Pa on the 28th written on the 13th which told me he was well and in good spirits. I wrote to Pa and Ma and sent the letters to Nashville by Maj Cowan who started day before yesterday. Since I wrote to Kate there has been nothing of great moment occurring here, although our  troops have not been entirely idle.

On the night of the 26th about 1200 of Gen Grangers troops - - picked men - - embarked in pontoons and sailed down the river past the rebel batteries on Lookout Mountain, landing safely on the other side of the Mt. capturing a few rebel pickets, and before morning they had strongly entrenched themselves built a bridge out of their boats and were ready for the enemy.  It was a daring enterprise as the boats afforded no protection adnt he rebel pickets extended all along the shore within pistol shot and the [illegible] batteries were not more than 200 yards distant.  Great was the consternation of the rebels when in the morning they saw what had been done, and they immediately took steps to drive us out.  On the night of the 29th they made an assault by moonlight upon the works but after three hours hard fighting they were repelled. 

A very fortunate and ludicrous incident occurred during the fight which tended greatly to our success.  A number of mules had been tied up near our troops and several of them becoming restive from wounds, the whole gang finally broke loose and charged down upon the rebels with great gallantry.  The rebels thinking "our cavalry" were about to Saber them and trample them under foot, flung down their arms and took to their heels, roaring lustily "we surrender" "we surrender". Our men appreciating the joke followed up the charge of their mule brigade, and ended the fight.  They collected over one thousand enfield rifled muskets which the rebels had thrown down in their fright, besides a number of prisoners, whose trembling legs refused to retreat with their valiant bodies.

The result of the whole movement has been to open river navigation between here and Bridgeport, so that we shall be able to supply our soldiers with more liberal rations in a few days.  Night before last a steamboat went down from this place to Bridgeport and last night one arrived loaded with rations, so that I hope soon to see plenty once more.  Ever since we came here the troops have been on half rations and lately the roads have been rendered impassable on account of the heavy rains, sot aht really it seemed as if hunger would accomplish for the rebels what their Arms failed to do, viz. drive us out of Chattanooga.  In a few days more I hope we shall have entire possession of Look Out Mountain and then we shall be safe for the winter.  The rail road will not be open for a month yet, but when that much wished for event does take place we shall be almost as much at home as when in Nashville. 

Nov. 2d 1863.  The electioneering documents came yesterday with a letter from ["Tom"?] and this morning "Uncle Samuel" was seized with a sudden fit of generosity and gave me yours of the 19th and 26th with Kate's enclosed, one from Pa dated the 28th and one from Cousin "Will."  I was in a terribly bad humor when they came but after such overwhelming good fortune how could I remain so.  How I envy you your trip to see "Helen."  If I had been along I could have made "Brough men" of the whole family in short order.  I do not understand how anyone in the army can be for Vallandigham, and those out of it who favor "peace on any terms" ought to be "drafted" and made to fight until they are converted.  I wrote to Helen a long letter when I heard of the elections and that was the one, of which she promised you the benefit, I expect.  I wish it had been received while you were there, I think it would have helped your side of the question a little.  I am glad we are to have another draft, and I hope and pray it will be a draft in earnest.  Tell Henry Day to get his "certificate of disability" ready.  I think the army would improve his health.  Perhaps his physician would recommend a three months enlistment instead of a trip to the Seashore.  You speak of securing the services of Mr. Murdoch for a series of readings.  He has been down here since the Battle and has given a number of entertainments, but something has happened each time to prevent me from attending them.  You know he had a son killed in the fight.  I gave "Gen. Sigel" your compliments and he returns his thanks therefor.  He says he does not flourish here where he cannot get his daily allowance of "Kraut" and "Beer".  He is the AAG now and it keeps him very busy.  Lt. ["Behive"?]  I have not seen for three weeks.  He went to Nashville and has stuck fast somewhere in the mud, on his return.  Have not heard from him for a week.  He will flounder through some time this week I expect.  He will be a "Major" in a week or two.  Henry Cist started for home day before yesterday on a "leave of absence" on account of ill health.  If you see him you will remark how thin ?  and pale ? he looks.  With his usual accommodating spirit, he left without giving me any notice of it, so that I sent no word by him.  If he says he saw me before he left tell him it was two weeks before and that you have later news.  I have read the "Pickwick Papers" lately, don't you think my taste improving.  I was highly entertained and hope I shall enjoy his "Curiosity shop" as much when it comes.  I have read John Logan's speech with much interest and shall read the others at my leisure.  By the way I will tell you how a few Vallandigham Soldiers were served here on election day.  The rain came down in torrents but the Captain of our of our [sic] batteries -- a German -- opened the polls promptly at six o'clock and kept them open all day, that everyone might have an opportunity to vote.  Presently a squad of six men belonging to his battery came up and voted for Vallandigham.  This was more than the Captain could stand.  He ordered out one of the Caissons emptied it of its ammunition, hitched the men to it and all day long they were kept at work dragging it through the mud and rain.  Of course I do not approve such a proceeding believing everyone should be allowed to think and vote as he pleases, especially when they are soldiers, but you may be sure I did not shed tears because of their unjust punishment.  As to the lady whose husband is in the 4th Ind. Cav. Tell her if only a month has elapsed without her hearing from him she need not be uneasy.  For the past six weeks the Cavalry has been very busy and have scarcely stopped at any one place long enough for letters to be written.  It is not in Gen Granger's command nor has it been except for the short time we remained at Triune last Summer.  The people all over the country seem to be greatly exercised over the removal of Gen. Rosecrans, and very naturally too when they cannot know the reason.  However there was a reason, a just one too, which will I suppose be made known in good time.  I am glad "Will" voted right for once.  I shall write to him in a few days as I owe him a "business" letter, and I hope we shall keep the correspondence up now that it is begun.  I have written a letter to Dora Davis which is waiting for my "stamps" to arrive before I can send it off -- as yours will have to do. -- They are on the road -- coming as Christmas is and apparently as fast. -- I have just discovered a blob on the other page for which you may blame the Maj Gen.  He was writing at the desk a few minutes ago and managed to spread the ink over everything, and when I laid my paper down it received his mark.

Remember me to all my friends, Annie, Sallie Maggie, and Lucy and Dr. & Mrs. Robbins.  A year ago and I was limping over to see the Dr. and now here I am where Doctors are in great demand though fortunately not by me.  Give my love to all at home.  Kate and yourself included.  I enclose a list of killed and wounded at the late battle.  When you consider that Gen. G. had but about 3380 men in the fight and out of that number lost 1732 you can judge what kind of work they had to do.  But I must close.  I forgot to tell you we live a little better now than when I last wrote and are getting -- I was going to say fat, but that's vulgar -- but are doing very well.  We eat raw onions but then there are no ladies at our parties.  But good night

Your affectionate -- brother, Gordon

[In margin:] I forgot whether I ever answered Sam Brooks' letter but think I did.  However December is coming and that is the month when I shall owe him a letter, since the one I wrote to him last Dec. was not answered until July at the [same?] rate I shall be in his debt then.


George Perkins to Emma A. Taylor, 29 April 1866, folder 9, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Lia Springer, HC 2019, and Sarah McNair Vosmeier

Walnut Hills April 29th 1866

Miss Emma A Taylor

Dear Friend,

I suppose your heart beats with Joy as you think of the fue brief day until you will be again with friends at home But when you come it will be to find that another friend of the past has gone into the unknown night. Lizzie [Ballentine?] is dead.  Her spirit [strikeout: winged] commenced its eternal flight to those immortal realms where she shall take her place with kindred spirits of a spotless mould in mansions of perpetual day. at [7?] oclock Saturday night. Profits Poets & historians all tell us to keep our eyes steadily forward but when sweet memories cluster round our hearts & fierce reminders bring up friends of the past we feel we feel it a duty as well as a privilege to [strikeout: look] give them a fue last thoughts e'er their brighter images fade from the scroll of memory . Our mutual friend was one of those almost perfect characters [strikeout: of love?] whose virtues blaze up with living lights as her spirit takes its flight. "None knew her but to love her" She has followed her old friend Mary Tracy.  Two Spirits that could not live apart.  Two of the three that that [sic] buckled on my sword & sent me forth to strike in freedom's name.  They bade me fair well trembling for my safety and yet the fierce spirit of the glass scythe came first to their door, and ruthlessly severed the vital cord.  [strikeout: they took the flowers and left the rugged stump.]  How sad it is to see one so young cut down in the bloom of her beauty one whose character was so free [in?] design while thousands of Earth's vilest offsprings live in luxurious ease, poluting the very air we breath with their foul breath.

Tis sad to think the fairest flowers are first severed from the parent stem.  The most beautiful bud e'er it unfolds its truest beauty is snatched away only to droop & die.  I sometimes feel like I never would cultivate another new acquaintence.  I have lost so many by death in the last year.  and the more I see pass from "death to life" with that child like purity that [supiness?] of simplest love the more perplexed I am the deeper I sink into the mine of hopeless unbelief or rather of disappointed hope of ever reaching that goal.

My dear friend the last year of my life has a [surcease?] of continual mental pains & heart aches.  I feel like Phillip Nolan (the man without a Country) a man without an aim.  I do not know but I am recovering and yet I some times think I enjoy Solitude & thought of sadness more than peace.  I am like the prisoner of Chillon "my prison is my home"  Oh it is a fearfull thing to be with out a religion and yet why should that all wise Creator Curse us with the power of reason and give us so many arguments against the true religion.

I go [out in company?] once or twice a week and I am the gayest of the gay.  In fact I revel in absurdities, the modern idea of social enjoyment and then betake me to my room to Curse the world and all thats in it.  They flattery [sic] me very much in the hill. the every [sic] say I am the life of their society, and perhaps I flatter them in return.  I do it with a vengence.  If they have any dogs I shoot them [or?] tell them. "for their death let Justice be accused"

Em I am some times afraid I shall go Crazy.  I have sat in my room at night or after I had retired letting my thoughts take their own direction until I became so excited that my pulse would throb painfully, and rest disturbed until from [meer?] fatigue I would give way to tired nature's sweet restorer balmy sleep and oh what a blessing sleep is to the wearied soul.  "God bless the man that first invented sleep" is my frequent prayer

Ike Spining will be married May 1st -- & Maggie will be a brides maid.  He has done well both pecuniarily & [strikeout: for] matrimonialy.  Frank will go to St. Louis.  abut the 10th of May & from there to Kansas.

I have a notion this summer to sit down & write a novel of my past experience.  there are several little periods which if written properly would read well.  would you purchace a copy to help me support my self

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