A Soldier’s letter to his family
I was googling random quotes and found this letter that I particularly loved reading. I got it from this website.
Rhode Islanders led the Union Army into the first major battle of the Civil War, and one of the most famous war letters ever written was penned by a Rhode Island soldier.
Major Sullivan Ballou sat in his tent in Washington amid 2,000 other Rhode Island volunteers. He began a letter to his wife:
July 14, 1861 Camp Clark, Washington
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.”
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 grown up to honorable manhood around us.”
“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 often times been! 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 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.
O Sarah I wait for you there; come to me and lead thither my children.”
That’s real love. I can’t imagine what went on inside his head when he considered the fact that he was literally writing his final letter to his family.
The wife was loyal to him until the very end as stated here:
And what became of Sarah? At the age of 26 she was the widow of a serviceman. She received $25 per month and $2 per month for each child. She served as secretary of the Providence School Committee and late in life moved to East Orange to be near Willie. She was 81 when she died on April 19, 1917. She never remarried. Sarah was laid to rest in Swan Point next to her husband. On the obelisk at their grave are these words from the letter:
“I wait for you there,
Come to me and lead
thither my children.”