A week before the
battle of Bull Run, Sullivan Baloo, major
in the Second Rhode Island Volunteers, wrote home to his wife in Smithfield:
July 14, 1861
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days, perhaps
tomorrow. Unless I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to
write you a few lines which may fall under your eyes when I am 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 American
civilization now leans upon the triumph of the government, and how great a dept
we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering 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 dept.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables that
nothing but omnipotence can break. And yet, my love for country comes over
me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly with all those chains to the
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. And how 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 boys grow up to honorable manhood around us.
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 battlefield, it will whisper your name.
my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how
foolish , I have sometimes been....
do not mourn me dead. Think I am gone, and wait for me for we shall meet again.