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Murder of Col. Ellsworth of the Fire Zouaves.

Excerpts from "The Death of Colonel Ellsworth: The first Union officer killed in the Civil War was a friend of President Lincoln's" by Owen Edwards, Smithsonian magazine, April 2011

On May 24, 1861, the day after Virginia voters ratified the state convention’s decision to secede from the Union, Ellsworth and his troops entered Alexandria, Virginia, to assist in the occupation of the city. As it happened, an 8- by 14-foot Confederate flag—large enough to be seen by spyglass from the White House—had been visible in Alexandria for weeks, flown from the roof of an inn, the Marshall House.

The regiment, organized only six weeks earlier, encoun­tered no resistance as it moved through the city. Barber notes, however, that “the Zouaves were an unruly bunch, spoiling for a fight, and when they got into Alexandria they may have felt they were already in the thick of it. So Ellsworth may have wanted to get that flag down quickly to prevent trouble.”

At the Marshall House, Barber adds, “Colonel Ellsworth just happened to meet the one person he didn’t want to meet”—innkeeper James Jackson, a zealous defender of slavery (and, says Barber, a notorious slave abuser) with a penchant for violence.

Ellsworth approached the inn with only four troopers. Finding no resistance, he took down the flag, but as he descended to the main floor, Jackson fired on Ellsworth at point-blank range with a shotgun, killing him instantly. One of Ellsworth’s men, Cpl. Francis Brownell, then fatally shot Jackson.

Source: "The Death of Colonel Ellsworth: The first Union officer killed in the Civil War was a friend of President Lincoln's" by Owen Edwards, Smithsonian magazine, April 2011

To link to the full article: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Death-of-Colonel-Ellsworth.html#ixzz1YcK4UByC

Record Details

Title: Murder of Col. Ellsworth of the Fire Zouaves.

Notes:

HMI Civil War 1

Lithograph published by J. Magee, at their store at 316 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Caption includes a poem by G. Gumpert as a memorial to Colonel Ellsworth: "Thou noble warrior, young and brave/ Thy courage ne'er shall be forgot,/ Sleep sweetly in the silent grave,/ A nation weeps thy mournful lot-/ For millions praise thy name./ It adds but to thy fame.

Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth is best known as the first conspicuous casualty of the Civil War. The image illustrates the moment of his death as well as the death of James W. Jackson, his assassin, by the hand of  Corporal Francis E. Brownell. Ellsworth is shown dying but still clutching the Confederate flag he had just cut down from the roof of  the Marshall House Inn. Jackson, the owner of the Inn and a well-known secessionist is seen falling backwards after just being shot by Brownell, one of Ellsworth's men. President Lincoln was deeply saddened by Ellsworth's death, and ordered an honor guard to bring his friend's body to the White House, where it lay in state.

 

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