Hey beautiful people! Marilyn here. I love letters… writing them and reading them; especially handwritten letters. There is a raw honesty in emotion, I think, that is peculiar to letters. Also, for me, I find it quite an experience to read letters as a recipient (even if it was not addressed to me). Today, I’ll be sharing one of my favourite letters written by a man called Sullivan Ballou. Not every time fiction, sometimes historical letter (is this still a thing, btw?) Enjoy.

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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. Our movements may be of a few days’ duration and full of pleasure – and it may be of some conflict and death to me. “Not my will, but thine, O 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 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 burns unresistibly 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 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 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! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortunes of this world to shield you and your children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the Spirit-land and hover near you, while you buffet the storm, 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 gladdest days and in the darkest nights, advised to your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours, alwaysalways, 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.

As for my little boys – they will grow up 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 deep memories of childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their character, and feel that God will bless you in your holy work.

Tell my two Mothers I call God’s blessing upon them. O! Sarah. I wait for you there; come to me and lead thither my children.

Sullivan

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People! People!! People!!! What if I told you that he never sent this letter to Sarah? And what if I told you that Sullivan died in combat two weeks after? After his death, this letter was found amongst his things and was given to Sarah. She was 24 at the time. She never remarried and lived quite long. They are now buried side by side, her body 80 years old at its time of burying, and his 32 years old.

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Marilyn Eshikena

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  • Avatar
    Lass

    First?

    December 9, 2014
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    mehn, the letter seems, i don't know, pseudo-shakespearan.

    too many things he wants to say but doesn't know how to properly ink it out.

    December 9, 2014
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      Jennifer Melah

      1. That letter was written in 1861 so that style of writing is not entirely inappropriate (or as u chose to put it pseudo Shakespearean).

      2. For a man going to battle I think he did a good job of expressing his feelings, all other factors not withstanding.

      3. Not every time be overly critical. sometimes understand the meaning and thought behind the words. See the piece from a holistic POV. Like u said he had a lot to say and he wasn't exactly a pro writer. Rather, overwhelmed by dfrnt emotions he wrote down just what he could find the right words for.

      December 10, 2014
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    Omo Akhibge

    With such a powerful letter how could she have lived with or loved anorther man. This is true love and nothing more. God is great!

    December 9, 2014
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    Nice… but we don't know the full story. What if she was dating Drake's great great great grandfather while this poor soldier was on the battlefield losing his right eye to shrapnel and having his legs blown off in a mine field…

    Think about it…

    December 9, 2014
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      cokeboy

      A mystery we may never know 😀

      December 9, 2014
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      King Push

      I swear this ngor is justttttt ssssssssiiiiicccckkkkkkk Lmao

      December 10, 2014
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    topazo

    Wow…when men still were courageous to spill their guts about their true feelings..when they still made the effort to woo their spouse..

    December 9, 2014
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    mezzyadamz

    Words from a true heart, carved on a thin page in cold ink. Mobile phones have murdered the expressions of letters.

    December 10, 2014
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    Iran ajufo

    Ngor, I cannot believe that is all you could see from that lovely piece. Do you always see the glass half empty. Sarah felt what it was to love & be truly loved in return. It's no wonder she never married again, even though this happened when she was 24 years old & she lived to the grand old age of 80 years .

    December 11, 2014
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    I agree that letters are incredibly powerful. I saw a poster a few weeks ago which was simply a reprint of a letter written by a soldier on the battlefield in WW2 to his wife at home. I damn near burst into tears at the train station. It was that moving.

    As for Nosa's point about the emotions not coming across clearly, I think that is mainly because the person writing is usually trying to retain a sense of normalcy and prevent the reader from panicking. In the WW2 one, for example, the guy was writing about the mundane details of his life, e.g. letters arriving late etc. as if bombs were not dropping all around him. There's a real struggle between trying to maintain a "normal" conversation and pouring out your heart, especially in war situations where there is a lot of fear and uncertainty.

    December 12, 2014
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    iamwomanng

    Very brilliant! You are really good with words.

    January 15, 2015
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    Tori

    This is beautiful and heartfelt. I wish we still did things like this in this generation.

    January 19, 2015
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