1861: Robert Theophilus Rigg to Madison Family

These two letters were written by Robert Theophilus Rigg (1840-1911), the son of Reese Evans Rigg (1816-1893) and Jane Finger (1815-1882) of Pottsville, Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania. Robert enlisted in September 1861 in Co. A, 96th Regiment of Pennsylvania. He mustered out on 1 March 1862.

Robert wrote both of these letters to the parents of John Madison who served with him in the same company. Robert was engaged to John’s oldest sister, Jane Ann Madison, at the time, though they never married. After Jane Ann’s mother died in February 1862, she decided to not marry Robert Rigg but to stay home and raise her younger brothers and sisters.

Robert was married to Mary Jane Beck (1842-1903) in March 1862 after he was discharged from the service.

[Note: These letters are posted here by the express consent of Janet Madison Nolan who offered to share them with others.]


Camp Franklin, Virginia
December 11, 1861

Mr. Madison and dear friends,

Sir, you must forgive me for not writing to you sooner. We are kept busy drilling from morning till evening that I have very little time myself. Mother Madison, she thinks John must be sick. He is not for he is well and hearty and so am I well. And we are in good spirits in the bargain.

Christmas will soon be here so we must fix a tree in one corner of our parlor and hang our guns and cartridge boxes and our hats on it. Pap and Mamy, we have fine times together. We try to do our duty to God and at the same time to our country—the land that gave us birth. We hope and pray that the flag of our country may float over all the land again.

My love to you and Many and the girls and all the family. Give my love to my father and mother and all the rest.

Tell Jane Ann [Madison] that she must get everything ready [for our marriage] for we may get home on Christmas, I think, three years from now—not this Christmas, but Christmas three years. So you must not get down-hearted but keep up your spirits. Give my love to all the young ladies and all inquiring friends. So write soon. Remember us in your prayers. From your son, Robert Rigg

Give my love to all my friends, Jane Ann and Elizabeth. John Madison and Robert T. Rigg and the rest of the boys sends their love to you—that is, the ones in our Uncle Tom’s Cabin.


Camp Northumberland
January 12, 1862

Dear Sisters,

I suppose you think that I have forgotten you altogether. Not yet, for I think about you all.

We are trying to love and serve God in our weak way, but at the same time we have to contend with more wickedness than if we was home for there we can be led by those that has served God for years. Where we are now, we have to do the best we can so pray for your unworthy brother.

When you write, please tell us how the meetings are progressing this winter at Church—whether there has been any mourners or not. Tell us all the news. We are separated from all these blessings of God, but far from you all, I still thing about all and the many happy meetings that I have been to and felt the good of them.

I am very sorry to hear that so many is sick and some have died since we have left our homes. I hope by the time you receive my letter that all manner of sickness may have left your Father’s house.

We are all well—John and myself, and in good spirits in our log house.

It is reported that we have to march back to Washington City. If so, instead of moving towards the Rebels, we are moving near home but to guard Washington City is a high honor. It is something that not every regiment can do. I hardly know what to write for I hear nothing from morning to night. The only thing we hear is the roaring of cannon and guns. We are in the wilderness or else clean out of the world.

I must bring my letter to a close for this time by asking you to give my love to your Father and Mother, and all the rest of the family. My love to you and all inquiring friends. Write soon and oblige.

Your friend, — Robert T. Rigg

My love to my Father and Mother.

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