Incredible love of country and family...

The Ken Burns series "Civil War" is back again on PBS, I had forgotten just how good it is.

There was one segment that moved me the first time around and was so touching it never left me, it's the "Sullivan Ballou Letter"

Any man alive wishes he was capable of writing something so profound about ones love of country and family.

Below is a transcript of that letter, and below it is the video segment taken from the series.

If you get this post via email you may want to return to the blog to watch the video, it's one thing to read it, it's something else to hear it read.

"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 . . .

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 before us through the blood and sufferings 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 . . .

Sarah, 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 on 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 to you that I have enjoyed them for 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.

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 battle field, 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! 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 in 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 . . ."

Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861.


Robert said...

In addition to my photography business, by day I am a 5th grade teacher. Our current reading unit covers the Civil War. I shall read them this letter in class tomorrow. Thank you for sharing this.

Paul M. said...

The best part of the Civil War series is this letter. Ever since I originally saw this years ago, I revisit this often. The narrator and the music (Ashokan Farewell) together make this a favorite of mine. (I often use the music in slideshows.) The actual letter is a bit longer and, if I remember correctly, the letter was never mailed to Sarah but found among Sullivan Ballou's personal belongings after his passing. I do believe that the letter was then later delivered to Sarah.

THANKS for posting this!!!