Civil War Letters
from the Elias Riggs Monfort Papers
Excerpts for Discussion, Nov. 9, 2017
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.
H. Monfort, letter to Elias Monfort, 2 Mar. 1862, folder 3, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Sydney Claypoole, HC 2021.
March 2nd, 1862
Today is your birthday one of those points in our journey through life when we may “pause and consider”, when we may look over our first failures or successes, and make new resolves for the future. Whether your time here is to be long or short, twenty years of it is gone, gone in the service of the world, will you not let it be sufficient for that, and from this time, say unto God, “My Father be thou the guide of my youth” Your father preached [strike out: yesterday] this morning from text “We are journeying to the place of which The Lord hath said I will give it you Come thou and go with us and we will do thee good for The Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel, O listen my dear son to the invitation and enroll yourself with the people of God, and consecrate the rest of your life to his service, Do not any longer put off the preparation for the future, lest the time of trial and sorrow come and find you unprepared, you are in a position of danger as well as difficulty, and I entreat you do not throw this letter hastily aside but give a little time to your eternal and highest interests; I desire very much, more than I can express, that you should hold your position with honor to yourself, and benefit to our country, but I long more than that, that all your time, talents, and energy should be spent for the glory of God –
We had a heavy rain last night freezing as it fell and today the trees and shrubbery are bending to the ground with the weight of the ice, and as we sit in our warm houses enjoying the comforts of home we think of you and others similarly situated, exposed and suffering in such weather and we long and pray that this war may soon be brought to a righteous and honorable close,
5th – I have delayed sending this letter hoping you to hear from you, we have had no word for nearly three weeks I suppose in consequense of your moving position. We are very anxious to know where you are, please write as often as you can, and tell about your movements, you might sometimes send some word about your men that went from here, did you get the stove, Margaret wrote some time ago about your trunk key, you have a good many books and other things here, that I should like to pack there for safekeeping, if you have the key, I think you had better send it, if not[,] mention it when you write, if you send it fasten it with a thread to the paper inside of the letter as that will prevent it from rubing through – Margaret has not been well for a week past but is getting better she went to Cincinati on the 22nd Feb and took cold. Laura Weakly had Diptheria last week, very severely but is quite well again write as often as you can we think of you constantly much love from all
your loving mother
Elias Monfort, letter to “Father,” 26 Apr. 1862, , Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Mackenzie Sims, HC 2021.
Camp at Monterey W. Va.
April 26th, 1862
Having become very uneasy in regard to the money I sent to you. I sent by the chaplin Dr Weakley $645.00 & by letter 20 & have heard nothing from home or money either. I will send you fifty more by our orderly who will be at Glendale between the first and midle of May. if you have any thing to send you will find him willing though I do not want him loaded down as he will have to walk from the R.R. to Monterey which is about one hundred & ten miles. I will try to procure a furlough about the midle of June if possible. This is a very disagreable weather which we are subjected to. We have not seen the sun since we left Camp Milroy on the sixth of April. We have had either rain or snow all this time since & is quite an uncommon thing to have dry feet. Day before yesterday we had snow fifteen inches deep in the morning it began to snow. At ten o’clock it was 5 inches deep[.] it then began to Rain & settled the snow about two inches. At eleven it began to snow again & at 12 measured eight inches at three measured ten & half at 5 1/2 oclock it measured 15 inches at 6 oclock began to rain & hail at about 12 at night. We were arroused by a terrible Hurricane & thunder storm blowing several tents down & exposing the inmates to the weather for it is impossible to pitch a tent where the wind is blowing[.] in the morning the snow & watter were about six inches deep & it was impossible to go out side of the tents without getting completely soaked. I was appointed officer of the Brigade guard I marched the men of our regt who were on duty to the Post. & going through a little gulley we had to wade through snow & watter above our knees & you can imagine how it felt so cold that we could hardly stand on our feet after crossing the men got sick & took colds so that of 65 post & pickets I had to detail 27 Supernumeraries before this morning at 8 oclock[.] I was relieved at 9 oclock & expect to remain in my tent until the weather changes or the watter dries up or until I am detailed for duty[.]
Rather an amusing incedent occured the other day while some of the boys were scouting some of them have an evil propinsity of looking in every barn belonging to a secesh for chickens or eggs. One of them while looking for eggs felt in a hole in the straw felt a pair of boots pulling them out found a pair of legs attached to them and a body attached to the legs & a pulling it out farther found a pair of Epuletts on the shoulders it proved to be a Lieut in the rebel service who seeing our men coming took refuge in the hay loft & was found there under these peculiar circumstances. we have got to the end of the string the rebels are driven out of our division & I suppose we will be detached by companies & left to guard the different posts all over these hills.
Remember me kindly to all I remain your
Elias R. Montfort
April 27th 1862
PS Please write soon & let me know about the money
E. R. Monfort, letter to 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
I received your kind & welcome letter to day. I am very much gratified to find that I stand so high in the estamation of my Col. I am truely thankfull to him for for it as I did not expect it. But the old saying always proves true that "fortune favors the ("brave")." (Notice the brave). I suppose you saw our orderly Sergt. at Glendale he has gone home on furlough & promised me to visit Glendale before he returned. I am very sorry to loose Lieut. Crampton. he was my only companion in trouble & in pleasure. I have just bid him good by he left on a a waggon train for Newcreek at one oclock P.M. I feel as if I had lost my best friend it is a misserable life to lead when not on duty to lay on your cot alone in a tent with nothing to do nothing to occupy your mind. I wish you would send me occasionaly a Harpers Magazine or some other interesting litterature for I am as blue as a violet & feel as crabid as a wet hen. I will try & describe the battle of the 8th to you as near as possible. Thursday morning May 8th we were aroused & called in to line of battle by that terrible signal the long roll you never will know what it is to hear a long roll in active service at about 9oclock A.M. a fue Rebels made their appearance upon an adjourning hill after a short time Captain Highman scattered them with a fue cannister & shill from one of his guns. 4 companies of infantry were sent up to see if possible what their numbers were that failed & at about 4oclock the 25th & 75th Regts were sent up we engaged the enimy for three & half hours the 25th opening the battle & then retireing reinforcements were not sent to us at first because the Genl did not think we could our position ten min but we did & with credit to our selves to at about half past eight two regts came up to relieve us the 82nd & the third va or 5 companies of 3rd Va. We had more men killed & wounded in the 75th Regt in that fight than any regt at Pittsburgh landing 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. At at half past eight we were relieved by the 82nd Ohio & 3 Va who kept the rebels in check until we could carry our dead from the field. They however left their dead & wounded upon the battle field. We lost our Lieut Col Constable he was taken prisoner by the rebels after the battle we fell back to Franklin when we were reinforced by Genl Freemont we now have 30000 men & 60 piece of artilery & about two [thousand?] cavelry. I sent by Sergt Crampton $545.00 & my watch. I want father to buy me a cheap watch Hunters case so I will not break so many crystals & send it [asoon?] as he can as I kneed it very much.
Your affect Broth
James H Anthony, letter to John Torrence, 14 May 1862, folder 3, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Kea Callihan, HC 2021.
May the 14th, 1862 [Leulion?] Ohio
Mr John Torrence Dear Sir I Received you letter some 2 weeks ago and was very glad to hear from you onse more
This leaves us all well and hopeing it may find you enjoying the same Blessing although I heard that you was deaf but I hope that your hearing has come to you by this time
Peter is still here he has not got any Better of his Rupture. well John I have nothing of interest to write on the present occasion. I delivered the message you sent to Manda, S. she said all right she would answer your letter if you wrote to her and last Sunday she was asking me whether I had written to you. I told her I would write this week[.] I think she has been looking for a letter from you John if you want a nice little wife to sleep with you had better Secure her at once as she has a good many beaus I showed her your letter and it pleased her[.] the Rest of the girls that you was acquainted with is all Right Side up yet[.] Eliza Davis is still liveng at John Swinks yet she asked me about you nearly every Sunday whether I have heard from you Hetty Swink & John Tilton is a coarting [courting] about Right[.] he sets up with her about twice a week some times until about Mid night I thing that both of them ought to have there asses smacked
[in the margin: I expect to send this by Samuel Ruckman]
Henry Blake was brought back dead about 3 weeks a go Mary Martin took it very hard
I have 2 brothers living not far from where you are I want you to try and see them Tom Anthony lives on the calf pasture River on the Road leading from Staunton to Beverly just 18 miles before you get to Staunton North west of Staunton and Brother John lives 8 miles futher west on the warm Spring Road running from warm Springs to Harrison burg [.] he lives just about 8 or 10 mile east of Williamswhere I understand you had som wagons burned up and horses Stold[.] if you go from Monteray to Staunton you will go Right past Toms house if you go in the neiboarhood of them enquirees of the natives about them and if you find them tel them about me and you write to me about it[.] I would be so glad to here from them as it has been about 18 months since I heard from them[.] don’t forget to make enquires about them Right to me as soon as you get this and let me know just where you are as I know all about that county it may be you may work in my old Virginia Shop as you go towards Staunton it is in the forks of the Road just where the road turns of to go to Staunton from Beverly it is a log shop with a shed on both sides of it just 18 miles befoar you get to Staunton
Jas H Anthony
Write to me as soon as you get this
[in the margin: Mary Marling told us severa times to Send you her Best Respects, so now you have got them
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
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 fue. Tell Sallie to write if her ma is willing
Write Soon & believe me your
I have not time to read this over before the mail goes.
Robert Reily, letter to Reverend J.G. Monfort, 13 Jan. 1863, Folder 1, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.)
Transcription by Gracie Phillips, HC 2021.
Stafford CH Va
Jany 13’ 1863
Rev. J G Monfort
Knowing that it would be gratifying to you, it has long been my desire to drop you a line commendatory of the conduct of your Son 1st Lieut. Elias Monfort. But being so much occupied in [menchly?] also so much of my time having been taken up with the necessary duties of the Regiment, so long under my sole command, that I have been necessarily detered from doing so.
Throughout the whole of our Western Virginia campaign under [strikeout: Milroy] Generals Milroy, Schenck Fremont – Pope & Sigel also, more recently, in the 11th army camp under Sigel. I have seen much of Elias -- and always have taken an interest in him. He is one of the very few Officers of the regiment who can be said always to have been at their post. In regards the company to which he is attached as one of the best drilled and disciplined companies of the regiment[.] no company I [believe?] has been better held together -- throughout our hard marches, hard fighting and harder fare [--] than Co F. No little credit for this is due to Elias yet of course much is due his sterling commander.
I regard it as a matter of [specia patulation?] to you sir, that your son has escaped the ordinary and terribly pernicious vices of the Army. Profanity, vulgarity, and intemperance.
It pains me to admit that he has been not been with out the example in any one of this Soldierly qualifications before him in this Regiment, and that too, in this high authority and last, the not least your son enjoys the esteem and respect of every officer in the Regiment. My earnest prayer is that he may long live to enjoy the same and to still contribute his valuable services to a cause so worthy. With [great?] respect,
I am your most [illegible]
[Rob?] Reily, Major
75 Reg OVI
E. Marthell, letter to [ E.R. Monfort ], 26 Jan. 1863, folder 5, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.)
Transcription by Lindsey Kosek, HC 2021.
Office of Com. Subsistence
Folly Island, SC.
Jany. 26 1863
This is to certify that Captain E.R. Monfort Co F. 75 Rgt. Ohio vols is free from all indebtedness to this Department for Subsistence stores.
Capt & osv.
II Brg. Gordon’s Div
Elias Riggs Monfort, letter to Maggie Monfort, 2 Feb. 1863, folder 3, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription and research by Kirstin Biggs, HC 2017
Army in the field near Bell Plain
Feb 2nd 1863
Yours of the 21st and 22nd came to hand in due time. We have had a terrible time for two or three weeks marching about in the mud & rain. With no place where to lay our heads & not knowing whether we would march in the next hour or not. We march to morrow to Brooks Station. You have a mistaken idea of our laying quiet because the Army is appearantly doing nothing. We are not in winter [ie winter quarters?] nor yet likely to be this winter I wish we were in the Army of the South west as we then would have a milder climate to contend with which would be much pleasan ter & we would in nearer communication with home & friends. As well as a better opportunity of displaying our abilities and distinguishing our selves.
Captian Friend and Dr Straden arrived last night safely. I happy to hear that Col Reily has such an oppinion of me I hope I merit it. I have the satisfaction at least of knowing that I have always tried to do my duty. And often under very trying circumstances. Col Reily is man who never speaks anything but the truth. Never flatters & you I think can rely that on all he says, he means.
Col Constable I think did as much as any one man could do to injure this Regiment. He has avowed his sentiments in reguard to the presidents proclamation far & wide among the men & said & does more to discourage them than you can imagine. Saying that he pittied them because they could not get out of the servise & glorying in his own advantage over them & saying that he would go if he was dismissed in disgrace. That he was willing to be a marter to his princepals & his opinion of freedoms of speech
As far as I am concerned I can heartily endorse any thing that the President will proclaim. I am in the Army now subject to his orders & will obey them. Whether right or wrong is none of my business. A subordinate officer in the army has no right to have an opinion or pass a remark on the orders of Superior officer. His duty is only to obey. Grumble you may but go you must. Please tell George to write to me as I have not received a letter from him for two months & & I am anxious to hear from him.
Adjt Hopper's resignation has been returned & Lieut Col Constable & Capt Dishelen are suspended. A punishment in the Army much worse than to be under arrest & they feel it bitterly. The Col says he is moraly & politicaly damed & He does not care what they do with him now. I wish they would dismiss them & send the Col to Fort Lafaette as a political prisoner until the war is over
I think there is some movement on foot now from the looks of things. But can not tell what.
I hope you will keep up your style of writing also tell me all the little scrapes the girls get into as they are interesting to me. The roads are in some places three feet deep in mud & almost impassable we can not make but a fue miles a day. If the teams make three they think it good traveling with six horses or mules to a wagon.
But I must stop so Goodbye
E. R. Montfort
Feb. 3rd 1863
Elias Riggs Monfort to Margaret C. Monfort, May 8, 1863, folder 3, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.)
Transcription and research by Asumi Oba, HC 2018.
Hd Qts 75th Regt OVI
May 8th [added in pencil: /63]
Since I left home we had a very active time we left camp at 4 A.M. on Monday Apr 26. marched three days 60 miles around in the rear of Fredericksburgh where occurred one of the most desparate fights of the war where in 15 minutes we lost 6 commissioned officers Col Reily wound & prisoner Adjt Gano missing Capt Morey & Capt Watkins wounded & in the hands of the Enimy Lieut Haskell wounded severely Lieut Crozet missing, And one hundred & thirty five men killed wounded & missing the old 75th looks thin Genl McLean shed tears [strike out: the other] yesterday speaking to the regt
Col Friend Capt Keckler are Safe & well
E R Montfort
I am now acting Adjt now
[added in pencil: Chancellarville]
Joseph Monfort, letter to son, 3 June 1863, folder 5, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Zeke Porta, HC 2021.
Glendale June 3, 1863
Your letter to Margaret received this morning speaks of resigning or the possibility of it. I would not do any such thing. If you do, you will regret it, I am quite sure, unless you have some better cause for it, then you have at this time. You can get away from there in some other way. You can perhaps get a majorship in a colored Regiment if you want it. Would you desire it, I would have no objections. The negroes are to do a great part of the work hereafter. I think you may get to be a major of your own Regt yet. I should not object to others resigning as it puts you up the higher on the scale[.] the men who have resigned had not attained much reputation. Harris & Morgan have long been regarded as the first men in your Regiment, & no Lieut. has stood higher than you[.] Would you like to get a place with Genl McLean? I think he will find a place for you if you desire. If he succeeds in getting the 45th out here for provost duty, you will have a pleasant berth here.
What was the order against the 25th you wrote of? Genl McLean thinks it must be something done since the fight of Chancellorsville & nothing before he left. I think of seeing General McLean tonight & trying to get something from him in your favor & then I will go to [looking?] & try to get your promotion to be Captain. After that no doubt you can get on some Division Staff, Especially if your Regt is brought west, if you wish—
I want you to write me in full in regard to all my enquires in this letter & in regard to those in a letter I sent you yesterday.
We are all well & have the prospect of a good commencement[.] I wish your Regiment could get sent here by that time & it may be it can. Frank will come hence & then return again to Crawfordsville & Margaret will go with him.
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