Lottie's Dear Chalmers, An 8th Illinois Cavalry's Love Story That Shouldn't Have Been

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
18,176
Location
Central Pennsylvania
#1
cav2 aldie.jpg

Shouldn't have been? Chalmers Ingersoll, Co. G of the 8th Illinois Cavalry survived some of the biggest, most savage cavalry clashes of the war. I could have used a sappy, flowery image for Trooper Chalmer's love story. His war was this; his sabre hand penned a liquid, living thread home through these shambles- and lived to follow it.

Mention the 8th Illinois Cavalry anywhere near a Gettysburg buff, see what happens. Lt. Jone's borrowed shot echoes down History, vanishing into tomorrow's mists. When ' they came booming, skirmishers 3 deep ', Buford's men fought their famous delaying action, holding the ground we know as " Gettysburg ". In a letter home to his love, all the more striking for a sense of heavy restraint and weariness, Trooper Chalmers Ingersoll tells Lottie 200 men were lost. It's stark reading.

Make no mistake . This is a hardened, war tested, veteran of battles he would never mention, post war. I've frequently wondered how in blazes my own grgrgrandfather survived- a Regular Army cavalry trooper, scraped through Fairfield, also attached to Buford, among other, awful, bloody names- as did Chalmers. Perhaps it's why these letters get to me.

letter chalmers to lottie gettysburg 200.JPG

It's the single time Chalmers breaks what must have been a resolve not to send his war home, or allow it to intrude into this sacred space.

Yet he carved a place in his war for this. t does seem almost intrusive, reading words penned at such crucial moments in a couple's lives. We should know, however, through the unspeakable blood, gore, loss and senseless slaughters- how they survived. This gives us a hint.

letter chalmers to lottie evenings.JPG

letter chalmers to lotie evening 2.JPG

Intense, and brings this war home. Written in a camp somewhere, horses stamping, heat overwhelming, a battle behind, one tomorrow, his time carved for himself- such private moments, are with his love. No maudlin, creepy, fake commercial ' love '. This is real stuff. All they had, squared.

cav attack.jpg

Unsure these horrific cavalry clashes are quite understood for what transpired. Traveling with armies, artists tried. Chalmers never did although he survived quite a few.


Chalmer's daughter, in a book whose seams barely contain her pride, published her parent's letters to each other post-war. Always impatient of mere, maudlin words, had small expectations and ended being blown away. This collection more than any I've read conveyed to me who are ancestors were, away at war. Who were our grgrgrandmothers, waiting and wondering and keeping the faith. Would theirs come home- and di not ask that question out loud.
https://archive.org/stream/unknownfriendsci00inge#page/12/mode/2up

Do not read if love stories are what you wish to find and no, do not read if you're looking for Century Magazine's unequaled skill at bringing us post war accounts. Please read, for an image of what love looks like in a shambles called war.

I had to go look up who this man was. You love and adore their daughter. her father's war is secondary to pride in her parent's enduring, endearing story. She says nothing of his regiment, achievements or miraculous survival. His war? He came home and should not have- but not a word in letters of a fear otherwise. Charlotte, at home in slowly growing realizations of who, exactly she might be dealing with seems unhesitating in giving her heart to a man whose next letter might be from a chaplain or Captain. He could be gone, dead on a battlefield for weeks before she knew.

letter1.JPG

From LoC. There are photos of both in the book I did not bring here on purpose. Published in 1948, there must be family out there not anxious to see family images splashed across the internet. Here, on CWT, safe enough. Once on Pinterest they tend to get ' orphaned '- separated and identities lost. Defy anyone to separate Lottie and Chalmers.

This story seems published- meant to highlight a joke shared early on how unknown they were to each other early on. They were. It misses the point. These two rode those battles together, she quite simply what got him through. She writes that she wasn't swift to accept the concept of true love- no Victorian, wilting, stars-in-her-eyes, character from fiction, our Charlotte.

letter chalmers to lottie vening3.JPG


letter dear lottie 6.JPG

We've read elsewhere of the cavalry throwing themselves on the ground and falling asleep. Read this description- his campaigns were those whose names are written in our deepest, worst and best History. Not a word.


letter dear lottie 7.JPG


Will stop there. When the final letter , on the last page is read you find yourself wanting more- and we cannot. It's enough to know how real were these lovely people, how great their strength and strong was genuine love. Not at all interested in post war ( well, I do know theirs, and it's very nice- just not the point of the thread ) - there was one, for them.

Sappy image now? You bet. Who deserves one more.

kiss crop.jpg
 

Attachments


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Larryh86GT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Messages
1,850
Location
Near sunny Buffalo New York
#2
I read his letters and am I correct in this seems almost like a 1860's example internet dating? I particularly
enjoyed his descriptions of camp and the battles and not so much the lovie dovie stuff. Well maybe some of
that. I find it greatly interesting they married in Williamsville NY which is only 6 or 7 miles from me. And you
have to like the happy ending!

Chalmers Ingersoll
Born in Westfield, Chautauqua, New York, USA on 29 Oct 1838 to Thomas Ingersoll and
Sarah Walker. Chalmers married Charlotte Rinewalt and had 5 children. He passed away
on 1 Jan 1908 in Beloit, Wisconsin.

Charlotte must be Lottie.

From: https://www.beloit.edu/archives/documents/archival_documents/beloit_press/?textonly=1

Chalmers Ingersoll started the "Beloit Free Press" in February, 1866, and soon absorbed the "Beloit Journal" by purchase. In the summer of 1869 Ingersoll sold his interest to M. Frank & Co., and the old name of the paper -- "The Journal" -- was revived. During the next winter the paper passed to the control of T. O. Thompson, and J. B. Dow, the latter disposing of his interest, in the fall of 1870, to E. D. Coe. The "Free Press" was resurrected September 21, 1870, by Chalmers Ingersoll became sole proprietor, but Perkins continued as editor. During the spring of 1871 the "Free Press" again absorbed the "Journal," Mr. Thompson and Mr. Coe acquiring a half interest in the "Free Press." The following fall Mr. Ingersoll bought out Mr. Coe and became sole owner. Mr. N. O. Perkins continued his editorial connection until the winter of 1872 and '73, when he changed to a position on the staff of the "Milwaukee Sentinel."

In 1882 Mr. Cham Ingersoll again became the owner, editor and publisher of the "Free Press," Mr. Ayer continuing as city editor.
 
Last edited:

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
18,176
Location
Central Pennsylvania
#4
I read his letters and am I correct in this seems almost like a 1860's example internet dating? I particularly
enjoyed his descriptions of camp and the battles and not so much the lovie dovie stuff. Well maybe some of
that. I find it greatly interesting they married in Williamsville NY which is only 6 or 7 miles from me. And you
have to like the happy ending!

Chalmers Ingersoll
Born in Westfield, Chautauqua, New York, USA on 29 Oct 1838 to Thomas Ingersoll and
Sarah Walker. Chalmers married Charlotte Rinewalt and had 5 children. He passed away
on 1 Jan 1908 in Beloit, Wisconsin.

Charlotte must be Lottie.

From: https://www.beloit.edu/archives/documents/archival_documents/beloit_press/?textonly=1

Chalmers Ingersoll started the "Beloit Free Press" in February, 1866, and soon absorbed the "Beloit Journal" by purchase. In the summer of 1869 Ingersoll sold his interest to M. Frank & Co., and the old name of the paper -- "The Journal" -- was revived. During the next winter the paper passed to the control of T. O. Thompson, and J. B. Dow, the latter disposing of his interest, in the fall of 1870, to E. D. Coe. The "Free Press" was resurrected September 21, 1870, by Chalmers Ingersoll became sole proprietor, but Perkins continued as editor. During the spring of 1871 the "Free Press" again absorbed the "Journal," Mr. Thompson and Mr. Coe acquiring a half interest in the "Free Press." The following fall Mr. Ingersoll bought out Mr. Coe and became sole owner. Mr. N. O. Perkins continued his editorial connection until the winter of 1872 and '73, when he changed to a position on the staff of the "Milwaukee Sentinel."

In 1882 Mr. Cham Ingersoll again became the owner, editor and publisher of the "Free Press," Mr. Ayer continuing as city editor.

Well, it's the lovey dovey stuff which is so gosh darn striking because he's such a battle hardened vet, but yes, I can see where it's a not for everyone! He does do well, like a lot of vets descriptions in letters, of battles. He really rode through cavalry history and lived through it, more remarkable! Thanks for his post war life- guessing Chalmers was the kind of man, you'd meet and never imagine him charging anywhere with a sabre, maybe not writing a love letter, either, who knows?

Daughter said her mother, Lottie ( think it must have been common, shortening Charlotte to ' Lottie ', two in our tree ) treasured those letters all her life. Can't imagine the family seeing what kind of a war their father had, and what a miraculous thing they were here, at all.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
18,176
Location
Central Pennsylvania
#6
@Northern Light , here's where my lack of genuine education as an historian ( who goes to art school then admits it? ) tends to be a little glaring- what would be the right decision for the daughter? Did she handle it well? It's a sincere question although discussing her is also a little ' iew '. I am and was just struck by her recognition of what amazing people were her parents and admit to being deeply touched by her love for them. Their letters really walk us through the realities faced by those separated by war.

I don't know. It was awfully nice ' meeting ' people, however anonymously , who you like so much.
 



(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top