Waiting for War
"My Dear Sarah. . ."
Waiting for War depicts the importance placed on writing and receiving letters, in the lives of all soldiers, in an age before telephones, pagers and email; a time when letters were about the only means of communicating with loved ones far away. Letters were looked upon as treasures, and families saved them for years afterwards. Letter-writing was a serious, almost sacred activity to those involved in it. And when one of the writers is a soldier preparing for battle, the letter takes on additional meaning, since there is a real possibility, it could be his last.
A letter written by Major Sullivan Ballou of the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry serves as the inspiration for this image. While at Camp Clark, near Washington, D.C. on July 14, 1861--one week prior to the first Battle of Manassas--Major Ballou wrote a very moving letter home to his wife, describing his feelings about fighting for his country as well as the depth of his love for her. The intense internal conflict he experienced over his divided loyalties to country and family are vividly described in this, his last letter, which was never mailed but found amongst his belongings upon his death in battle a week later.
Links to more about the letter:
Sullivan Ballou's letter
View the next painting in the series: Rose O'Neal Greenhow
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August 22, 2009