"I do not know which to prefer, the beauty of inflections
or the beauty of innuendoes,
the blackbird whistling,
or just after.“

:: Wallace Stevens ::

This page is given in tribute to the spirits of
Sarah and Blaise. On this page, their flame
lives on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sullivan Ballou to Sarah Ballou, 1861

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, July 21, 1861.


  1. I cried when I read this. I did. Even after the second read, I'm still teary, actually. Oh, Love and Death, and that incomparable longing to live beyond it all. Sigh...

  2. Beautiful. Fits perfectly here; more beautifully so the words shine.I can see that now.Thank you.

  3. Elizabetta, my SarahA forwarded this to me. She's incomparable.

    Thank you, my dear friend.

  4. SarahA, sigh, I'm happy I've made you happy and I'm glad you took the plunge and offered it for this space.

    Thank you.

  5. I'm amazed at the depth and scope of minds that live here, never mind the depth of love.

    And I wonder of the relationship between love born so deep, breaking through the body as vein, moving the spirit so, and the divine (or whatever you choose to name that great).

    This was truly beautiful SarahA. Thank you.

  6. And now SarahA, some weeks later, it means even more. Thank you for sharing it again on your site and the love that you share with Blaise. I become more and more troubled with his passing as I don't open my arms and accept such things, but feel the weight of it for you in your loss.

    much love SarahA
    Meaghan xo

  7. How my heart still aches to be with you Richard. My soul continues to wait for you, so we can become one again. My love for you is eternity.

    I Love you

    Antonia Julie/ October 6, 2009 7:10pm.

  8. How do I not feel numb? Either way I choose, my soul aches. Is there a perfect answer for me? I find that there's not,for the answer is not in my hands.No matter which way I turn,I still feel numb.Please, oh Please..can this ever be lifted from my soul?Am I meant to live in peace during my life time here on earth?If my soul waits for him, how long? Will he come for me? or, will his soul continue to be numb forever. along with mine?

  9. Beautiful words of true eternal love... I thank you for sharing...