AMERICA

AMERICA
ONE NATION UNDER GOD!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A letter from the front lines...

I found this letter on a friend's blog. It touches so greatly upon the warrior ethos that pulses through the veins and heart of every patriot, I just felt compelled to share it here.

Sullivan Ballou wrote to his wife Sarah just one week before he and 27 of his close comrades and 4000 Americans in all would die in the battle at "First Manassas".

July the 14th, 1861

Washington D.C.


My very dear Sarah,

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days - perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure - and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing - perfectly willing - to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows - when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children - is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death - and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me - perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar - that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you, in the garish day and in the darkest night - amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours - always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.



Sullivan

8 comments:

Ms. Anthropy said...

Touching. Must have been an educated man, to use such wording in 1861.

Heart2Heart said...

Kurt,

What a beautiful letter to have saved as a reminder of the undying courage these men and women continue to face to serve our country and to keep our freedoms we love and cherish.

Thank you as well for the time you have also personally shared to serve your country.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Christiejolu said...

This letter is so sad...

Heff said...

Again, BETTER MEN THAN ME.

PTSD, A Caregiver's Perspective said...

The language was so rich and expressive back then, magical, lyrical and full of imagery.

Such courageous sentiments expressed between his unwavering devotion to his country and his family.

A beautifully moving letter.

Thanks for sharing.
Domenica

Alice in Wonderland said...

Sullivan Ballou was a trained lawyer before he joined up, and he himself had been an orphan from a very early age. This is not what he wanted for his two sons.
It was over a week later when his wife, Sarah received the letter, and it was found amongst his belongings.

A very beautiful and moving letter. Many thanks for re-printing it.

Big hugs.

red.neck chic said...

That is just beautiful - so heartfelt and sincere.

Thank You.

;-) robelyn

Kimberly said...

Tearful & Peaceful.