Thank God we have always had brave men to protect us. This tells a little more about Major Ballou.
Born March 28, 1829 in Smithfield, R.I., Ballou was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.; Brown University in Providence, R.I. and the National Law School in Ballston, N.Y. He was admitted to the Rhode Island Bar in 1853.
Ballou devoted his brief life to public service. He was elected in 1854 as clerk of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, later serving as its speaker.
He married Sarah Hart Shumway on October 15, 1855, and the following year saw the birth of their first child, Edgar. A second son, William, was born in 1859.
Ballou immediately entered the military in 1861 after the war broke out. He became judge advocate of the Rhode Island militia and was 32 at the time of his death at the first Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861.
When he died, his wife was 24. She later moved to New Jersey to live out her life with her son, William, and never re-married. She died at age 80 in 1917.
Sullivan and Sarah Ballou are buried next to each other at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, RI. There are no known living descendants.
Ironically, Sullivan Ballous letter was never mailed. Although Sarah would receive other, decidedly more upbeat letters, dated after the now-famous letter from the battlefield, the letter in question would be found among Sullivan Ballous effects when Gov. William Sprague of Rhode Island traveled to Virginia to retrieve the remains of his states sons who had fallen in battle
Major Ballou was a mighty poet. I cannot read beyond the first line of his famous letter before it gets blurry.