I first heard this letter as it was read in Ken Burns' 11-hour Civil War documentary. It touched me very much, and today I decided to do some online searches to see if I could find it. And lo and behold, I did.
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days, perhaps tomorrow, and lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I am no more.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but omnipotence can break. And yet, my love of country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly, with all those chains, to the battle field.
The memory of all the blissful moments I have shared with you comes crowding over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God and you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hope of future years when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our boys grow up to honorable manhood around us.
If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I loved you, nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.
Forgive my faults, and the many pains I caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have sometimes been. But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they love, I shall always be with you, in the brightest day and the darkest night...
Sarah, do not mourn me dead. Think I am gone, and wait for me. For we shall meet again.
Isn't that beautiful? The soldier died shortly after writing that. I think this letter speaks for itself - I don't need to say anything more.