Ashokan Farewell
written by Major Sullivan Ballou of the 2nd Rhode Island, from The Civil War documentary by Ken Burns

(A week before the Battle of Bull Run, Sullivan Ballou, a Major in the Second Rhode Island Volunteers wrote home to his wife in Smithfield)

Sullivan Ballou: July 14,1861, Washington DC. Dear Sarah: The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days - perhaps tomorrow. And 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 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 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 battlefield.
The memories of all the blissful moments I have enjoyed with you come crowding over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God and to you that I have enjoyed them 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 grown up to honorable manhood, around us. 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 sometimes been!
But, O Sarah ! if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be with you; in the brightest day and in the darkest night....always, always. And when the a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, and 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 me, for we shall meet again...
(Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first battle of Bull Run.)

Kudos and much thanks go to Wes for the donation of this monologue, it is very much appreciated. On August 20, 2001, I happened on an mp3 from the documentary, and edited/corrected the monologue slightly. Thanks to Ed for a correction to a typo.

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