Below is a love letter ghost-written by me, for a retired Master Chief in the United States Navy SEAL community. The letter was presented to his wife for no other reason than my client wanted to, “ give her something that expressed my love.”
I write this man varying styles of letters and celebratory toasts for the many social functions he attends. He usually will request that I include in them a reference to the warrior spirit, or warrior gallantry. I’m always happy to oblige.
This letter has a Civil War love theme.
To my Dearest _____________,
A week before the first battle of Bull Run during the Civil War, a thirty-two-year-old lawyer named Sullivan Ballou traveled by horseback from Smithfield, Rhode Island to Washington DC with his regiment. He was commissioned a Major in the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry, and was preparing for the coming battle against the Confederate Army in Virginia.
One quiet evening in his tent, in a quiet field beside a dark forest on the eve of battle, the Major dipped his quill into a small well of ink and began writing a letter to his twenty-four-year-old wife, Sarah, who he had left behind in Smithfield.
July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington DC
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. And lest I should not be able to write you again I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I am no more…Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables…The memory of all the blissful moments I have enjoyed with you come crowding over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God and you, that I have enjoyed them for so long… If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I loved you, nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name…But, 0 Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they love, I shall always be with you, in the brightest day and in the darkest night… always, always. And when the soft breeze fans your cheek, it shall be my breath, or the cool air grazes your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by…
Ballou finished the letter, folded it, slid it safely into an envelope, and placed it in his footlocker. Six days later, before he could post the letter to Rhode Island, his 2nd Regiment was called to battle. Being a senior officer, Ballou led the charge of his men from the front, on horseback, and on the first day of the first battle of Bull Run, a cannonball from the Confederate forces struck Ballou’s horse. The impact was so great, it tore Ballou’s leg from his body, and he was thrown to the ground. Impossibly, he lay mortally wounded there, on the Virginia battlefield, for an entire week, until, on the seventh day, at last, he died.
His body was never recovered. But ashes and bone believed to be his were ultimately buried in the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.
As for the letter he wrote to Sarah, it was never mailed. Curiously, Sarah never remarried. She remained a widow until she died, at age eighty, in 1917. She now rests in peace in Providence, in a grave beside her brave and beloved Sullivan.
I’ve never told you, but as a warrior, I’d sometimes think of Sullivan Ballou. When I did, I thanked God every day for you. You are my Sarah. I am your Sullivan. I am with you now, tomorrow, and always.
With all my love,