[Late April, 1863...]
Fanny, realizing that she could not go to Lawrence, nor could he come to her, left Washington. Beset by the worry of Lawrence's exposure to small pox, as well as his determination to get himself into the impending battle, she traveled only as far as New York City. On her arrival at the St. Germaine Hotel, Fanny notified Cousin Deborah, who had charge of the children in Brunswick with the assistance of a Mrs. Harris as housekeeper. Fanny also wrote Lawrence of her whereabouts, but it would be many weeks before he received her letter....
At the end of May, Fanny still waited in New York for word from Lawrence. Sae, at home in Brewer, expressed shock that Fanny was away from home for so long, and commented in a letter to brother Tom, "Did you ever hear of such a thing." Yet perhaps the ever-dutiful Sae longed, at times, to be a part of the exciting events beyond her world. For she responded curtly to Tom's question of whether she, too, had been away: "All sorts of work are to be done in the spring, you know," and she reminded him that John, now the only son at home, worked all the time in the garden. Sae also told Tom of the hero's welcome Bangor had given the two-year men of the 2nd Maine on their return from the front. As for the marching soldiers, "...nobody could get a chance to speak to their friends Some of the women ran right in among them and kept along in the procession, talking & crying. I didn't blame them a mite-. I dont know but I should have done just so-"...
Fanny, unaware that none of her recent letters had reached Lawrence, believed he knew that she waited for news of him in her New York hotel. With no word since she left Washington, she was determined to know something of her husband before she traveled toward home. In the first days of July, city papers poured forth news that the Army of the Potomac had met the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg. At home in Brewer, Mother and Father Chamberlain, with sister Sae, could only guess where any of the three boys were. John Chamberlain, having finally succumbed to his brothers' invitations to visit them at the front, had left Brewer on June 1. Sae, also invited, had, as John later observed, "debated a long time the propriety of accepting" and "wisely gave it up." After a series of misadventures, John reached his brothers at the end of June in time to look after Lawrence, prostrated with sunstroke, but insistent on traveling with his column. John would get to see more of army life than he ever wanted...
Fanny waited through the alarming reports of the battle at Gettysburg and its aftermath. When a week passed, she dared to believe that no news of Lawrence meant that he had survived unhurt. But any attempt to leave New York became impossible. On July 11, violence against the draft became rioting that paralyzed the city. During the chaos, Fanny finally received news from Lawrence when Cousin Deborah included one of his letters in her own. Relieved to have word at last, yet dismayed that her letters were reaching neither Brunswick nor Lawrence in the field, Fanny's reply to Deborah on July 16 displayed an uneasy state of mind, jumping from subject, as she was wont to do when upset or excited:
I was rejoiced to receive the letter from you just now. What about your lameness? You never told me of it at all. You cannot have received the letter I wrote you before the last one, for you have not answered it, and you make no allusion whatever to any thing in it. I was perfectly rejoiced to have the letter, (short as it was) from Lawrence. I knew he must be safe, as I told in my letter, but I wanted to see his own hand writing. As for candy for the precious little children, I bought them some the first week I was in the city; I do not forget them I assure you. You are mistaken my dear Cousin D. in thinking it was my fault no hearing from you and Lawrence. I have written Lawrence three letters that I can distinctly remember, to which I have received no answer. They will perhaps reach him some time, if the Rebels have not taken them. As to your drawing the money from the bank, I expected you to do it. it was put there to use, and I hope we shall be having some more soon. I hope you are having and have been having, everything you want. The children shall be dressed up when I come. Poor Daisy's shaker must be looking forlorn. Did you get a letter from me beginning "I have just been to see Mary Larabee" and so forth? if not, then the one before the last you did not receive. It was a great risk sending the money in the letter, but thanks to Providence it came safely. I should not risk it again, however. The proprietor here says it was not safe. Do you know at all what terrible scenes we have been through with in New York since last Sunday? and the end is not yet they say. Fifth Ave. Hotel last night had 400 soldiers inside as a guard besides cannon in the door-way and cavalry in the park opposite. Murders & robberies are committed any where & every where in the Streets even at noonday. Houses are burned all over the city. Negroes are caught in the Street and literally drawn and quartered and hung upon lamp posts and trees. Every gentleman that goes out of our Hotel takes his loaded revolver with him. One of them came in the other night with his face beaten black, his costly watch stolen, and pocket book with $180 in it. There is no police-man to be seen; they are murdered by the whole sale. The fiendish mob has had entire possession of the city. It began in resistance to the Draft. I have not been out of the house since Monday [July 13], and it was not safe, but I had been at Mrs Darling's to dinner Sunday and had spent the night there (by invitation) and wanted to get home. They are expecting an attack upon the Fifth Ave. Hotel tonight. A foreigner in the house tells me he has been in revolutions in France, and this is much worse than he ever say there. Soldiers with bayonets and citizens with revolvers perambulate the Streets, but they are powerless in the hands of the terrible mob. Horace Greeley just escaped with his life. And they were going to hang Mr Hitchcock of the Fifth Ave. for being an Abolitionist, if he had not secretly fled for Europe.
At the St. Germaine Hotel on the corners of 22nd St., Broadway and 5th Ave. in New York City's 18th ward, Fanny had every right to be frightened. The mobs waged their worst fights with the police and soldiers within a few blocks of her hotel, where the gunfire and the volleys of the troops were clearly audible. Under siege for days, the
police station of the 18th ward was burned. Yet Fanny's thoughts again flew to worries of home and Lawrence at the front:
I hope your lameness is not going to be serious dear Aunty. what
in the world caused it? I think I shall start for home in several days
now, but if I hear that there is to be another battle very soon, I shall
stay awhile. I expect to stop in New Haven long enough to see about our
sewing machine, but I think I cannot stop in Boston now, as Commencement
is so near. Your letter was written July 11th and now it is the 16th. How
was it so long in coming? It is now only about 2 weeks to Commencement
only think of it. I am afraid to have the Children go across the Railroad
track along Aunty dont let them do it. With great relief at having heard
from you, and rejoicing that the children are well, I am your's affec.