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January 13, 2007


Dan Patterson

A man cannot be faulted for knowing his purpose and pursuing his duty with honor; those men have a sense of direction and obligation that shimmers from them like waves of heat. It is the men who whine and equivocate, those who value agreement over right, the modern version of 'Peace for our time', it is those men who foul the deck and who cannot be trusted with leadership. The men who sustain and protect liberty and freedom are not those who argue academic theories over coffee but those who know the value of the liberty they are entrusted to protect.

Human nature being what it is, the need to protect against aggression will shadow us to the end of our days. Major Sullivan Ballou did know the value of his life and of liberty, and he shared that understanding in a private letter to his wife. We are lucky to have his letter as one reminder of the both the blessings of life, and of it's fragile and brief duration.

Dan Patterson


Mrs. P,
I first heard that letter read in a Civil War documentary, with "Ashokan Farewell" playing in the background. I believe the narrator was well-nigh in tears by the end of his reading.

Mrs. Peperium

Chrisitne, so were Mr. P and I. The soundtrack has the reading you speak of and it is worth the purchase. You can also buy a copy of the letter from the Civil War ladies in Mr. Ballou's hometown in Rhode Island. According to Mr. P., Sullivan's death is recorded in Elihja Hunt Roades' (sp?) memoirs. Mr. P says that it was Elihja who organized and supervised the removal of Sullivan's body from the field and it is all recounted there. Elihja went on to be the leader of that company and after the war, the Governor of Rhode Island. My, how that state has fallen...

Thank you Mr. Patterson.

Dan Patterson

A reference site:


Old Dominion Tory

I always am moved, profoundly moved, when I read that particular letter. Thank you for posting it, Mrs. Peperium, and for your praise of American men.
Thank you for your excellent thoughts as well, Mr. Patterson.

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