have in my files a copy of a letter written by Major Sullivan Ballou,
a Union officer in the 2nd Rhode Island. He writes to his wife on
the eve of the Battle of Bull Run, a battle he senses will be his
He speaks tenderly to her of his undying love, of
"the memories of blissful moments I have spent with you."
Ballou mourns the thought that he must give up "the
hope of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived
and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood
Yet in spite of his love the battle calls and he
cannot turn from it.
"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 . . . how great a debt we owe to those who went before us
through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution . . .
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to
bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break"
and yet a greater cause "comes over me like a strong wind and bears
me unresistably on with all these chains to the battle field."
A man must have a battle to fight, a great mission
to his life that involves and yet transcends even home and family.
He must have a cause to which he is devoted even
unto death, for this is written into the fabric of his being.
Listen carefully now: You do. That is why God
created youto be his intimate ally, to join him in the Great
have a specific place in the line, a mission God made you for.