The Civil Weird Podcast

Adam J. Krall/Paul Golladay/Christopher Stratton

A conversational history podcast where we take on the weirder aspects of an already weird war. read less


Episode 10: A Love Letter, Lost Limb, and Looted Grave, The Death and Desecration of Sullivan Ballou
Feb 8 2024
Episode 10: A Love Letter, Lost Limb, and Looted Grave, The Death and Desecration of Sullivan Ballou
In this episode of The Civil Weird Podcast titled A Love Letter, A Lost Limb, and A Looted Grave: The Death and Desecration of Maj. Sullivan Ballou, Chris, Paul, and Adam delve into the intriguing and controversial story surrounding one of the Civil War's most famous figures. We went on a journey to learn the truth about the poetic love letter Major Sullivan Ballou of the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry allegedly wrote to his wife Sarah before the first Battle of Bull Run. We are joined by our first special guest, historian and Sullivan Ballou expert Rob Grandchamp. Rob Grandchamp brings a critical eye to the widely accepted narrative of Ballou's life, death, and the romantic legacy of his last letter. We explore Ballou's background, commitment to the Union cause, and untimely demise in 1861, setting the stage for a deeper investigation into the authenticity and origins of the letter that has captured the hearts of many Americans due to the use it by Ken and Ric Burns in the seminal and beloved 1990 PBS series, The Civil War. Grandchamp presents compelling arguments and evidence that challenge the conventional wisdom surrounding the letter's authenticity, suggesting that the document may not be what it seems. The discussion also touches on the brutal aftermath of Ballou's death, including the desecration of his body and grave, highlighting the savagery of the Civil War and the personal tragedies that often go overlooked. Listeners will be invited to reconsider the story of Sullivan Ballou's love letter through a skeptical lens, questioning the narratives handed down through history. With Grandchamp's expertise and a fresh perspective on a well-trodden tale, this episode promises to spark debate, inspire further research, and engage anyone fascinated by the intersection of history, love, death, and myth. Let's make it Civil Weird! --- Send in a voice message: