Don Troiani has made available to the Gettysburg Discussion Group three love letters from Joshua Chamberlain to his wife, Fanny. With his gracious permission, they are reprinted below .
The City of Harrisburg Civil War Collection has 100 unpublished prewar JLC -Fannie luv letters which they aquired from me along with some 40 odd war letters etc. All are unpublished. I read as many of the love letters as I could tolerate. Things were definitely somewhat strange before the war started, even by Victorian standards . I think the City's plan is to publish them sometime but I am not sure if they will allow acess to interested parties. JLC was about as smitten as a human being can get, but Fannie had a much cooler head.
night- moonlight- we move very early so I try to send this to Washington. Good night darling I shall lie looking at the moonlight on the mountains- + in that " vale" + dream myself there. A kiss+ thousand thoughts of you till the early bugle call.
Monday .........Sept.22 Relieved from picket. All well+ sound. your loving husband L
My Dearest Fanny, We have been here a week + are waiting nobody knows for what. All sorts of rumors arise of course, but our business is to obey orders + it becomes us to be patient as well as obediant. There is a great army here you may be sure+ something will be done with it,I have no doubt. Saturday I rode over to the front, on the banks of the Rappahanock, only a few rods from the Rebels opposite in Fredericksburg. I rode along for some miles,+ of course I had no difficulty in seeing the Rebels. They were busy as bees throwing up fortifications + planting cannon. They kept as much out of sight as possible in order not to show their force+ movements. I did not feel fully comfortable,I own,in full view+reach of every one of those ugly looking cannon they are training to slaughter us by& by,+some of the Rebel rifles looked saucy(?),but I presumed on the mutual understanding not to fire on either side + so in company with Mr. Brown took my time to view the city+ enemy at my leisure.We did not stay very long in one spot, but dashed along from hill to hill, leaping ditches+scampering around in a quite exhilarating fashion. F is a fine looking city; some of the buildings - churches I imagine chiefly-are really in good taste.Warrenton is the only Virginia city I have seen equal to this. We called on Wm. H. Owen on our way back,+reaching camp at dark found that we had orders to go out on picket five or six miles to the right where some of our cavalry had been taken-"gobbled up" as the press elegantly has it- a day or two ago. Our orders were to stay out fortyeight hours + expect a skirmish. The picketting we did-the skirmishing, not.The first day of December was a lovely day. I thought of you in my rude tent+ grow rather lonely,till some duty took me away. You may imagine how warm it is , or perhaps how tough I am,when I say that I took a full bath in "Potomac creek" the first day of winter,without the least inconvenience. To be sure ice formed to quite a thickness the night before, but the days are delighful when it does not rain.Sometimes it snows- a wet driving snow- then I beg to assure you it is not particularly agreeable weather to experience. The country is nearly all devasated in this part of the state+ starvation pretty sure for some I cannot but believe. The distress is great now.Our generals are kind enough to place guards around every house that is inhabited + Rebel property is carefully protected from pillage. Our Quartermasters it is true take whatever we must have + give reciepts for it which are presented to the Govt, + pay obtained on them I suppose. I do not think the Rebels are treated very severly however. If this were really war we should not leave rabid secessionists within our lines to observe + give information while we protect tthem from loss or harm. I do not mean to question the propriety of the present policy. But regardless in a merely military point of view, the war would seem to be much more effectively carried forward if we should leave no Treachery in the midst of us or behind us- nor anything to aid support or strengthen the enemy. We should take horses, forage, cattle,+c send women + children+ all nonresistants over the lines all active rebels to the rear that is to confinement within our lines ,+for every ship burned at sea fire a rebel courthouse, or even private house worth $20,000 to $50,000. I tell you we shold not have to fight the same ground over again, as we have here so many times. In that way we should weaken+ crowd the enemy + at the same time strengthen + advance ourselves. Of course the country would be laid waste absolutely, but it would be war. We have not got over the old idea of suppressing a mob. Whatever cruelty there might seem to be in the course I indicated would be countervailed if the great saving of life + treasure in a speedier ending of the war. Now we take no advantages, use little or no strategy, but gain what we do by mainforce, by bearing on. Perhaps I speak strongly but it seems to me.You may think I am very savage in what I have said, but it is to lessen animosity. I looked over at the Rebels in Fredericksburg, without the least blood-thirstiness though if the order had come to "charge" on them, I could have gone in with all the vigor + earnestness in the world. Did I ever tell you that I tried to find out, of a rebel South Carolina officer- prisoner what had become of your uncle Harold. He did not know. I don't believe he was foolish enough to get hung(?) after all his knowledge of the world. He is probably a resident still of S. Carolina. # Friday Dec4th Only think we had two ladies to dine with us on tin platters yesterday Mrs. Eaton+ Mrs. Fogg- of the Sanitary commission-+ very proper+ efficient ladies they are too. They think I have been well instructed in the manly art of taking ladies bonnets+ cloaks properly. Send them to have your Thanksgiving letter+ the package of shirts + drawers (2 pairs) just what I wanted-+the "Jomini" too (art of war) with a letter tonight from Sarah from Prof. Smith of Bangor, from Mrs. Bacon+ from Julia poor girl. I feel perfectly crazed so much good fortune. I thank you very much + think you are as usual a darling. I dreamed of you last night of course. I shall write you another letter on our wedding day the 7th. About the money there cant be any risk of it being lost. The delay I don't understand I have not had a cent yet. they owe me $600. so already in haste to get this off+ love to aunty + the darlings your own Lawrence.