Letters from Various Correspondents

to Elias Riggs Monfort


Hanover students from GW143 "Autobiography: History" (Fall 2014) and His167 "Speaking of American History" (Fall 2017 and Winter 2018), all 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 from the Monfort collection are also available.

C. P. Buckingham, letter to Elias Riggs Monfort, 27 Sept. 1861, folder 2, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Dugan Library, Hanover College (Hanover Ind.).
Transcription by Emily Diehr, HC 2021.

Head Quarters, Ohio Militia
Adjutant General’s Office
Columbus, Sept 27, 1861


The Governor of Ohio has selected you for the purpose of enlisting in a company of volunteers for the US Service. Should you desire to engage in the services, you will repair forthwith to Columbus Ohio, where you will receive the appointment of Second Lieutenant, under which you will enlist and enroll the men of your company -- your promotion to the first Lieutenancy or Captaincy depend very much upon your success in enlisting

C. P. Buckingham
Adgt. Genl

   [To]     Elias Riggs Monfort
               6 Reg. O. V

Mac Casterlin, letter to E. R. Monfort, 1 Dec. 1861, folder 2, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Veronica Navarrete, HC 2021.

Dec 1st 1861.

Lieut. E. R. Monfort:

My esteemed friend;

According to promise I send you a line this morning to inform of the time when I hope to have the pleasure of visiting Glendale. I shall leave here to regain my Rgt, on the 2 o’clock train next Thursday the 5th inst. If you can be at home I will stop at Glendale. I hope it will be convenient for you to be there for I do not wish to stop unless you are. This will probably be the last opportunity we have of seeing each other- for some time. Please write by return mail and let me know if you can meet me at that time.

In great haste-


Mac Casterlin

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

Dear Son,

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

H. Monfort

George L. Spinning, letter to E. R. Monfort, 21 March 1862, folder 3, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Grace Bassett, HC 2021.

Camp Hunter Humbolt.
Allen, Co. Kans.

March 21st ,1862,

E.R. Monfort, Esq.

Dear Cousin:

A thought of you, in a moment of leisure created an impulse, the result of which now lies before you. Knowing your position in the Army, and supposing that you have, long ere this time, been used to “Wars Alarms”, I will not intrude, by giving in detail, incidents that are of interest to none, save those who are strangers to them. Having been in active service for six months in Western, Mo, and Kansas, a description of our novel “modus operandi“, might interest you, -- but time forbids any thing further on this subject at present.  Not knowing your P. O. Address I am not certain that this will reach you.

Your affectionate cousin

Geo. L. Spinning,

P.O. Address. Leav City, Kansas
Co C. Jennisons Reg.
Care Col. D. R. Anthony

E. H. Riggs, letter to Elias Monfort, 28 March 1862, folder 3, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.)
Transcription by Kameron Winter, HC 2020.

Elmira March 28th, 62

My dear cousin Elias,

I have really not had time to write to you before, I have been to school all winter and my time is pretty well taken up with my studies and another reason for not writing is that I have not known where to direct. But a few weeks ago, father received a letter from your mother and she said that she would like to have some of us write to you and so I have taken it upon me. We are all pretty well. Father is better than he has been for a long time and entertains a faint hope of being able to do something for the maintenance of such a large family. There is great excitement all the time about the war but not so much as last summer and fall; we have upwards of ten thousand troops here at two  different times last summer and last spring but now there is only one company here of the 14 Regt. Regulars. When the first call for soldiers came we hardly knew what to do. they gave up the churches and public buildings for to quarter them in, and such times I don’t believe you ever saw. It seemed as if the scourings of the country were emptied in this town, you could scarcely walk the streets without hearing the most vile and obscene language about every night there was a fight and once there were two soldiers killed in a brawl with some drunken Irish men, but now it is quiet as ever. I wanted very much to go as a drummer in the 64 Regt and for several days thougt that I was going shure but I was not old enough. I have an uncle in the 50 Regt of Engineers which is now in the Potomac. Also a cousin in MO in a cavalry regiment and it makes me feel as if I should like to go.

I have received a letter from cousin Edward Riggs who is now at Princeton collge he says that he likes college life very much he speaks of receiving a letter from home in which he says that they are all well and happy he says that little Charley is very happy notwithstanding he cannot see and that he very quietly submits to Gods’s will. Oh, my dear cousin what a blessing that Christ died for sinners to save us poor degraded creatures Oh. you dont know how your mother wants you to be a christian it well nigh kill her if you should die and not be prepared. And then you don’t know the strength it gives you to fight. It would be a good thing for you to read the life of Captain Hedly Vicars who fell in a sortie which the Russians from Sebastopol he is a brave soldier everywhere first in danger and first in the hearts of his men.

added to top of first page:
O seek first your heavenly father and then all other things will come easy your affectionate E. H. Riggs, P.S. write as soon as possible.

J.G. Monfort, letter to E. R. Monfort, 22 Apr. 1862, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Amanda Starks, HC 2021.

At Home April 22, 1862

My Dear Son,

I received, as Margaret wrote you $640 and $15 of her for you and others. I paid every one as directed by you and send enclosed notes as you desired. The offer of $200 is all right.   I owe you $150.00. We are well pleased that you are economical in expenditure. You may make up your mind that if you spend for trifles you will find you are forming a habit that you will follow for life. I feared much that some of the lieutenants might be prodigal & that your idea of generosity might lead you to keep even with them. I showed your letter to many persons &  they all commended you.  All said in substance if his life is spared he’ll get along. I saw that one man, a near neighbor, looked sad. His son is doing poorly, though he has a good place. On this subject I am well satisfied, but still I wish you to be sure that you have a perfect control of yourself &  glory in your self control above everything else. If you do your name will go before you wherever you go in life. If on the other hand you spend money, or take a dram with others it will go before you everywhere. Suppose for instance you wanted a place in JW Hughes Bank. He would enquire of a half dozen who have been in the army with you & learn your habits. If he were told you were always on hand, &  had no bad habits, & were esteemed, your success would be certain. -- If your reputation was bad, he would have no place for you. I was told by an experienced & a careful observer that not one in a hundred of the Captains and Lieutenants of the Mexican War were of any account. Most of them are dead and most of the survivors are vagabonds, & he thought it would be so of this war. I believe it myself. I think however that your Regiment & many Eastern Regiments will be exceptions. I heard lately from a gentleman from Virginia that Col. McCleans Regiment has an excellent character, above any other, for good order. Some of the Regiments in Genl Milnys Civision have a poor character. They are wicked,  disorderly & drunken -- the dread of the natives.

The money you sent me came in good time, I had suffered for it. We have sixteen boarders not pupils & expect fourteen more in a few days. Dr. Burt of the 7th Church is to be with us and his family.

The piece I send you has reference to Bro. Ray of Indianapolis &  the Logan is a son of old George Logan near Hanover.

Bro. Ray and aunty expect to visit Europe in a few weeks & to see your Uncle Elias Riggs and family in Greece. Does your chaplain preach often & does his preaching do any good &  get the attention of any of the men? What services do you have? & how often? Nothing would so delight us as to hear that you are a Christian, a soldier of the cross.  Surely you ought to give your heart to Christ.

Will you remember to Enquire any time you have opportunity for Carr Baker a lawyer who lived near the battleground of Winchester and Rev. Watt Foote of Romney Virginia both sons in law of my uncle Joseph Glass, I am anxious to hear from them.

Give my kind regards to Mssrs Col. McLean & Maj. Reilly. I saw Mrs. Ruby this morning, taking her son with his little spade to have his likeness taken. They are well. Write oftener. We have heard by the papers that three of the 75 were “badly wounded”, & yet we cannot hear [from?]  We send papers often which I hope you get.

Your affectionate father,

J.G. Monfort

Mary McLeish, letter to Elias Riggs Monfort , letter to nephew, 3 May 1862, folder 3, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Joselin Romero, HC 2021.

Cuyahoga Falls May 3th, 1862

My dear nephew,

Your welcome letter was duely recieved, & it made our hearts glad to hear from you once more -- we had lost track of you allgother untill your aunt Martha wrote me you was in company with your Uncle B Ragan -- I had not heard of you being maried -- I hope you have maried happyly -- got a good wife & you will make a good husband -- I would love to see your wife & babies -- I hope you will live to return home to them & that you will visit us after this cruel war is over -- I would love to see Hariat pleas write to her to write to me & give her my post office address Cuyahoga Falls Summet Co  Ohio

I hope that Wattson is better ere this I wish he would write to me give our love to Unity Cathrine  & Benny when you write or see them -- I hope we will all be permitted to see each other on earth yet if not I trust we will try to live insuch a way as to injoy each other society in a better world then this -- where there will be no war but where all will  be peace & love --

Your Uncle McLeish enlisted the 3 of Oct he belongs to the 9 Battery Ohio volunteers under Generel Carter Capt Wetmore they are now in Kentuckey at Cumberland Ford --  or was when I last heard from him which was last wednesday -- he wrote that they expected soon to advance to Comberlend Gap where they expected to meet the enimy – I wish this awful war was over without the loss of any more lives – your grandmothers health is very poor – she is onely able to be around the house part of he time – She wants to hear from your Uncle B Ragan often.  I wish he would write to us often  please give our love to him – I have no family now but your grandma & my own two little girls – one the age of five and a half the other one & half years old they are nice little compeny the oldest one I call Nancy Elizabeth Ragan she goes to school learns very fast – the youngest is walking & talking looks like her Pa a very sweet babe.  I must now close by requesting you to write to me soon again.

Your grandmother sends a great deal of love to you & your family your Uncle B likewise – this from your affectionate aunt

Mary McLeish

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.

E. Marthell

Capt & CSV. 

II Brg. Gordon’s Div

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.

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

Dear son,

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.

Your Father


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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