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 again, I feel impelled to
write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
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 on the triumph of the
Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went on before us
through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution, And I am willing--
perfectly willing-- to lay down my joys in this life, to help maintain this
Government, and to pay that dept.
my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me 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 unresistibly with all these
chains to the battle field.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping
over me, and I feel most gratified to God and you that I have enjoyed
them so long. And how 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 grown up to honorable manhood,around
us. I have, I know, but few 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 battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults,
and the pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have
often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little
spot upon your happiness...
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 gladdest days
and the darkest nights...always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon
your cheek, it shall be my breath, as 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.
Major Sullivan Ballou's letter to his wife Sarah seven days before being killed at the first battle of Bull Run.