Short writing assignment

Due in class: 1/31

Please write 3-5 pages on the following question. You may use the short citation style, as you’ll only be drawing on the two sources mentioned in the question. So, for example, if you quote from For Cause and Comrades, just put: (McPherson, page number).

Prompt: During the recent inauguration ceremony, Sen. Charles Schumer read excerpts of the following letter, written by Maj. Sullivan Ballou of Rhode Island to his wife shortly before the Battle of Bull Run, in which he was mortally wounded. This same letter was used to great effect in the well-known PBS Civil War series by filmmaker Ken Burns; indeed, it is today one of the most famous letters of the Civil War. Consider the letter not in the sense that Schumer used it — as an inspirational piece of writing that conveys a commitment to country that transcends time – but rather as a historical source that tells us something about the specific context in which it was produced. Drawing on the secondary readings by James McPherson (For Cause and Comrades) and Lorien Foote (“Rich Man’s War, Rich Man’s Fight”), analyze what the letter tells us about Civil War era soldiers and their motivations for fighting. In what ways, and to what extent would these historians consider Ballou representative of Union soldiers?

A short biography of Ballou you may find helpful.