Renaud Moreau was able to find many personal words in the trove of letters, including a letter from Marie-Jeanne Françoise Dubosc.
“I can write to you all night long,” she wrote to her husband, the lieutenant general. (…) I am your faithful wife forever. Good-night, my dear friend. It is midnight. I think it is time for me to rest. Louis Joseph Chamberlain.
Little did she know then that the British had already captured his ship and it would never be seen again.
Renaud Moreau, a professor at Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, spent months deciphering letters sent from French soldiers’ wives, fiancées and other relatives. In many cases, letters are poorly written and lack punctuation and capitalization.
He says he requested the letters out of curiosity.
“The letters were very small and unopened, so I asked the archivist if it would be possible to open them and he did. I realized that I was the first to read these very personal letters since they were written, and the intended recipient had never had that opportunity. It was very emotional,” she says. Renaud Morio says in a statement.
“Today we have Zoom and WhatsApp. In the 18th century, people only had letters, but what was written looked very familiar,” he says.
The letters are today in the National Archives at Kew outside London.
“Unapologetic writer. Bacon enthusiast. Introvert. Evil troublemaker. Friend of animals everywhere.”