13 February 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

I'm back from Texas, but I got hit with a killer bug last night. So for now, since I'm feeling too rotten to write an original post, and since I'm too sick to even kiss, I will stall for time and share with you a very worthy historical letter that I think is fairly appropriate to the occasion of Love Day, especially considering world events. Get your tissues out; this one may make you weep.
Camp Clark, Washington
July 14th, 1861

My Dear Sarah,

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days perhaps tomorrow.

Lest I shall not be able to write to you again. I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure, and it may be one of sever conflict and death to me. "Not my will, but Thine O God be done." If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my Country, I am ready. 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 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 debt, but my dear wife when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows, when after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself I must offer it as the only sustenance to my dear little children, is it weak or dishonorable that while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze underneath my unbounded love for you my darling wife and children, I shall struggle in fierce though useless contest with my love of Country.

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer Sabbath night when two thousand men are sleeping around me many of them enjoying the last perhaps before that of death; and I am suspicious that death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart while I am communing with God, My Country and Thee. I have sought most closely and diligently and often in my breast for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of all those I loved and I could find now. A pure love of my Country and the principles I have often advocated before the people another name of honor that I love more than I fear death has called upon me and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me in mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break and my love of country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of all the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me and I feel most deeply grateful to God and 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 sons grow up to honorable manhood around us.

I know I have 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 battlefield I shall whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you how thoughtless how foolish I have often times been. How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness and struggle with all the misfortunes of this world to shield you and my dear children from harm but I cannot I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more. But Oh Sarah if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they love, I shall always be near you in the gladdest day and in the darkest night amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours always, always and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheeks it shall be my breath or the cool air cools 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.

As for my little boys, they will grow up as I have grown and never know a father's love and care, little Willie is too young to remember me long and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood.

Sarah, I have unbounded confidence in your maternal care and your development of their character and feel that God will bless you in your holy work.

Tell my two mothers I call God's blessing upon them.

Oh Sarah I want for you there come to me and lead thither my children.

Sullivan

18 comments:

Am'n2deep said...

Geo, I'm so sorry you're sick. I do hope you had a fabulous time in the big state of Texas! This is such a beautiful love letter. Happy Valentine's Day. May you get better very soon!!

b. said...

I'm so glad you're back....but sorry you're sick.

What kinda sick you got?

andi said...

Where did you find this? I gotta know, did he die or not? Oh. Bummer. How beautiful.

Nigel said...

Welcome home! Cool letter--I too wonder if he lived.

Kalli Ko said...

stab me in the heart...

welcome home sweet Georgia

ps I love the name Sullivan

Jamie said...

Welcome Home from West Tejas! I hope you feel better soon! Have a happy love day! (I love this letter! I posted it on my blog for Veterans Day after hearing it read on an NPR broadcast--BEAUTIFUL!)

Love you!

swedemom said...

So did he die? Or did he make it back home to his beloved Sarah and children?

That was a beautiful letter to share.

I hope you feel better

Bluebell said...

Yes, pray tell, did he live or die? And where did you find such a gem?

Glad you're home safe, can't wait to hear about your trip, and hope you are feeling better straightaway. =)

Lois said...

I didn't read the letter (it seemed to long and I'm much too lazy), but I'm sorry to hear that you're sick. I guess this flu is really going around (even my brother in Iraq is sick!). So glad you're home! We missed you! Can't wait to hear all about El Paso!

Emily said...

I adore that letter; it's been a favorite of mine since my dad printed it out for me to read when I was in college. So beautiful.

I hope you're feeling better, there's some nasty stuff going around. Rest up and drink lots of water.

Rynell said...

Feel better soon!

Geo said...

Hi, folks. Well, story has it that Sullivan died in battle eight days later. Last week I saw a short film based on this letter -- wasn't a blockbuster, but the letter really broke me up. But so sweet!

Anyhow, I'm not dead, and that's a very good thing. I had pneumonia onc't upon a time, and since then I have seemed to be easily susceptible to getting really sick when an infection hits my breathing apparatus. But I feel pretty human today, so that's progress. I still hack like a rock-and-roll smoker, but hey, man, it's cool.

Geo said...

P.S. Thanks for the healthy good wishes!

compulsive writer said...

I can't wait to hear about your trip, but more importantly, I can't wait for you to feel better?

eclecticentertaining said...

I'm a little worried about you. How are you, friend?

compulsiver writer said...

Miss you--hope you're feeling better?!

Phoebe said...

I love that letter. PBS did a Civil War documentary about 15 years ago and that was featured in it. It was also on the soundtrack. It is beautiful set to music.

Are you better yet?

i i eee said...

I hope you're feeling better now.

I miss you.