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July 4th, 1861 

Camp Clark, Washington 
My dear Sarah: 

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days — perhaps tomorrow. Lest I 
should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write 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 severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 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 upon 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 fruits of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children 
- is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the 
breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, 
though useless, contest with my love of country? 

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are 
sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death — and I, 
suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, 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 those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and 
of the principles I have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love 
more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed. 

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you 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 irresistibly on with all those chains, to the battlefield. 

The memories of all the blissful moments I have enjoyed with you come creeping over me, and I 
feel most grateful to God and to 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 the 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 
have, I know, 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 as my last breath 
escapes me on the battlefield, 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, and struggle with all the 
misfortune of this world, to shield you and your children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch 
you from the Spirit-land and hover near you, while you buffet the storm with your precious little 
freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more. 

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 garish day and in the darkest nights.?.?.amidst your happiest 
scenes and gloomiest hours - always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it 
shall be my breath; or 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. 

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, 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 unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their 
characters, and feel that God will bless you in your holy work. Tell my two mothers, his and 
hers, I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead 
thither my children.