Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth was born in Malta, New York.
|Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861|
"Ever since the beginning of our acquaintance, I have valued you highly as a person[al] friend, and at the same time [without much capacity of judging] have had a very high estimate of your military talent. Accordingly I have been, and still am anxious for you to have the best position in the military which can be given you, consistently with justice and proper courtesy towards the older officers of the army. I can not incur the risk of doing them injustice, or a discourtesy; but I do say they would personally oblige me, if they could, and would place you in some position, or in some service, satisfactory to yourself."
Head Quarters, First Zouaves, Camp Lincoln, Washington, D.C., May 23, 1861
My Dear Father and Mother, The Regiment is ordered to move across the river tonight. We have no means of knowing what reception we are to meet with. I am inclined to the opinion that our entrance to the city of Alexandria will be hotly contested, as I am just informed a large force have arrived there to-day. Should this happen, my dear parents, it may be my lot to be injured in some manner.
Whatever may happen, cherish the consolation that I was engaged in the performance of a sacred duty; and tonight, thinking over the probabilities of tomorrow, and the occurrences of the past, I am perfectly content to accept whatever my fortune may be, confident that He who noteth even the fall of a sparrow will have some purpose even in the fate of one like me.
My darling and ever loved parents, good-bye. God bless, protect, and care for you.
|Ellsworth's Last Letter to his Parents, May 23, 1861|
Ellsworth led the 11th New York across the Potomac and into the streets of Alexandria uncontested. He detached some men to take the railroad station, while he led others to secure the telegraph office and get the Confederate flag which was flying above the Marshall House Inn.
Ellsworth and four men went upstairs and cut down the flag. As Ellsworth came downstairs with the flag, the owner, James Jackson, was waiting on the third floor landing. Jackson killed Ellsworth with a shotgun blast to the chest. Inside his coat was Carrie's last letter.
|Illustration of Brownell shooting Jackson|
|Ellsworth Monument in Cemetery|
|Envelope with Ellsworth Death Scene|
Music shops sold scores for such tunes as “Col. Ellsworth’s Funeral March,” “Ellsworth’s Requiem” and “Col. Ellsworth Gallopade.” Poems, songs, sermons and memorial envelopes lamented his loss. Parents named their babies after him, and streets and towns used his name.
|"Col. Ellsworth's Funeral March"|
|Ellsworth Memorial Envelope|
|James W. Jackson|
Souvenir hunters immediately carried away portions of the stairway to the roof, and the Marshall House became a tourist attraction. Jackson was hailed as one of the South’s first martyrs, and his body was buried privately in Alexandria for safekeeping. Later it was moved to a family plot in the Fairfax Confederate Cemetery. In 1862, a book was published, Life of James W. Jackson, The Alexandria Hero.
|Piece of the Confederate Flag|
|Ellsworth Coat with Bullet Hole|
|Confederate Flag taken from Marshall House|
Rockford. May 25th/62
My dearest friends,
I have been hoping every day to hear from you. Something of your plans. I see by the papers that you are going to Fargrins. I hope you will write me again before you go. and tell me the particulars. I wrote you two weeks ago today- I hope you have received my letter!
|Letter from Carrie Spafford |
to Ellsworth's Mother, May 25, 1862
How delightful it would be if we had such perfect confidence in God that we could feel and realize that all was for the best. His memory is just as fresh in my mind as though it were but yesterday that I bade him goodbye at the Astor. Still when I think how much has transpired within that time it seems an age.
Mrs. Lunish often enquires for you both- and wished me to send her love to you.
Mother continues to improve, but is not very strong as yet. Father is well and very busy as usual. They both send love.
I had hoped you would not leave Mechanicsville until I had visited you once more. I may go East the last of the summer and if I do, shall want to go to Mechanicsville. And if you are not too far away will visit you. I have had company ever since I came home from Chicago and am now about tired. There are two young bodies with me now, but they leave this week.
Please write me soon. I am very anxious to hear from you. You dont know how much I think of you or how well I love you. if I dont write often, but when we are settled once again I will do better. I must go now.
Good bye- your aff