Sullivan Ballou was a Rhode Island attorney who immediately entered the military in 1861 after the beginning of the Civil War. On July 14, 1861 he sat down at Camp Clark, Washington to write a letter to his wife, Sarah.
Here is part of Sullivan Ballou's now famous letter:
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 battle field.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And 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 grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small chains 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 battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness. . .
But O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights. . .always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek it shall be my breath, as 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 thee, for we shall meet again. . .
A week later, at the first Battle of Bull Run, Sullivan Ballou was killed. Sullivan was 32 and Sarah was 24 at the time. His letter to Sarah had never been mailed, but was found on his person when Governor William Sprague of Rhode Island traveled to Virginia to retrieve the remains of his state's sons who had fallen in battle.
Sarah never remarried even though she lived to be eighty.
Many hearing Sullivan Ballou's letter to his wife are touched by the loving sentiment. How much more should we be touched by the sentiment contained in the love letter written to us by the Lord. Every time we open His word, we should "look for Him". His story is on every page, from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation and every single one in between. As one preacher has said, if we have not found Him there, we have not seen the passage rightly.
Not only that, but just as Sullivan Ballou told Sarah he would be the soft breeze on her cheek, the Scriptures tell us that the whole creation expresses the invisible things of the Lord, being clearly seen. We should begin to train our eyes to see and our ears to see these expressions of our Lord all around us so that we know that "soft breeze upon our cheek" is an expression of the love of God to us.
"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"