The Death of Colonel Ellsworth


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 8, 1861

This newspaper has a number of interesting articles and illustrations. The cover shows a nice example of Zouaves, and their uniforms and equipment. There is also a nice Winslow Homer illustration of the Long Bridge over the Potomac. Several different soldiers from New York are profiled.

(Scroll Down to See entire page, Newspaper Thumbnails will take you to the page of interest)




England's Position

Civil War News

Colonel Ellsworth

Death of Colonel Ellsworth

Soldiers in Camp

Ellsworth's Soldiers in Camp

Locust Point

Camp Locust Point, Baltimore

Long Bridge

The Long Bridge Over the Potomac

Colonel Vosburgh

Colonel Vosburgh's Funeral

Sherman's Artillery

Sherman's Artillery

The Garibaldi Zouaves

The Garibaldi Zouaves

Sickles's brigade

General Sickles's Brigade

Jeff Davis Cartoon

Jefferson Davis Cartoon


Map of the Seat of War



JUNE 8, 1861.]







AIR—"Bruce's Address to his Army."

Who is this ye say is slain? Whose voice answers not again? Ellsworth, shall we call in vain

On thy name to–day?

No! from every vale and hill

One response all hearts shall thrill: "Ellsworth's fame is with us still,

Ne'er to pass away'."

Bring that rebel banner low, Hoisted by a treacherous foe: 'Twas for that they dealt the blow,

Laid him in the dust. Raise aloft, that all may see, His loved flag of liberty. Forward, then, to victory,

Or perish if we must!

Hark. to what Columbia saith : "Mourn not for his early death; With each patriot's dying breath

Strength renewed is given To the cause of truth and right, To the land for which they fight. After darkness cometh light,

Such the law of Heaven."

So we name him not in vain,

Though he comes not back again For his country he was slain ;

Ellsworth's blood shall rise To our gracious Saviour–King--'Tis a holy gift we bring;

Such a sacred offering

God will not despise.


WE publish herewith a Portrait of THE LATE COLONEL ELLSWORTH, and another of PRIVATE BROWNELL, who avenged his murder ; and on next page Illustrations of the CAMP OF THE ELLSWORTH ZOUAVES at Washington.

The following sketch of Colonel Ellsworth's life is by his friend, Mr. Duncan :

"Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth was born at Mechanicsville, New York State, and was, at his death, between twenty-three and twenty-four years old. He received at Mechanicsville a common school education, and came to this city about nine years since. He was engaged in business here for about four years, and then went to Chicago, While here, all his time, when not is business, was spent in studying, preparing himself to enter West Point. He made many endeavors to secure a cadetship at West Point, but, being without influential friends, was unable to do so. After being compelled to relinquish his pet project of going to West Point, he went to Chicago, and there formed his celebrated company of Chicago Zouaves. His parents are now both living at Mechanicsville, in this State. His


younger brother, a young man of great promise, died at Chicago at the time when his Zouaves first started for this city, and his remains were brought on and interred at Mechanicsville by Colonel Ellsworth. Colonel Ellsworth was the only remaining son of his parents. Mechanicsville is a small town on the Hudson River, twelve miles above Troy, in Saratoga county."

The following " last words" of Colonel Ellsworth were read in one of the churches on Sunday. It was written on the eve of the march to Virginia:


"MY DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER,-The regiment is ordered to move across the river to-night. 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 has 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 the morrow and the occurrences or 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-by. God bless, protect, and care for you.   ELMER."

The following account of Colonel Ellsworth's murder is from the pen of Mr. House, the Tribune correspondent, who actually had his hand on Colonel Ellsworth's shoulder when Jackson shot him :

" On entering the open door, the Colonel met a man in his shirt and trowsers, of whom he demanded what sort of a flag it was that hung above the roof. The stranger, who seemed greatly alarmed, declared he knew nothing of it, and that he was only a boarder there. Without questioning him further the Colonel sprang up stairs, and we all followed to the topmost story, whence, by means of a ladder, he clambered to the roof, cut down the flag with Winser's knife, and brought it from its staff. There were two men in bed in the garret whom we had not observed at all when we entered, their position being somewhat concealed, but who now rose in great apparent amazement, although I observed that they were more than half dressed. We at once turned to descend, Private Brownell leading the way, and Colonel Ellsworth immediately following him with the flag. As Brownell reached the first landing-place, or entry, after a descent of some dozen steps, a man jumped from a dark passage, and hardly noticing the private, leveled a double-barreled gun square at the Colonel's breast. Brownell made a quick pass to turn the weapon aside, but the fellow's hand was firm, and he discharged one barrel straight to its aim, the slugs or buckshot with which it was loaded entering the Colonel's heart, and killing him at the instant. I think my hand was resting on poor Ellsworth's shoulder at the moment. At any rate, he seemed to fall almost from my own grasp. He was on the second or third step from the landing, and he dropped forward with that heavy, horrible, headlong weight which always comes of sudden death inflicted in this manner. His assailant had turned like a flash to give the contents of the other barrel to Brownell, but either he could not command his aim or the Zouave was too quick with him, for the slugs went over his head, and passed through

the panels and wainscot of a door which sheltered some sleeping lodgers. Simultaneously with this second shot, and sounding like the echo of the first, Brownell's rifle was heard, and the assassin staggered backward. He was hit exactly in the middle of the face, and the wound, as I afterward saw it, was the most frightful I ever witnessed. Of course Brownell did not know how fatal his shot had been, and so, before the man dropped, he thrust his sabre bayonet through and through the body, the force of the blow sending the dead man violently down the upper section of the second flight of stairs, at the foot of which he lay with his face to the floor. Winser ran from above, crying. 'Who is hit?' but as he glanced downward by our feet, he needed no answer.

"Bewildered for an instant by the suddenness of this attack, and not knowing what more might be in store, we forbore to proceed, and gathered together defensively. There were but seven of us altogether, and one was without a weapon of any kind. Brownell instantly reloaded, and while doing so perceived the door through which the assailant's shot had passed beginning to open. He brought his rifle to the shoulder, and menaced the occupants, two travelers, with immediate death if they stirred. The three other privates guarded the passages, of which there were quite a number converging to the point where we stood, while the chaplain and Winner looked to the staircase by which we had descended, and the adjoining chambers. I ran down stairs to see if any thing was threatened from the story below, but it soon appeared there was no danger from that quarter. However, we were not at all disposed to move from our position. From the opening doors and through the passages we discerned a sufficient number of forms to assure us that we were

dreadfully in the minority. I think now that there was no danger, and that the single assailant acted without concert with any body; but it is impossible to know accurately, and it was certainly a doubtful question then. The first thing to be done was to look to our dead friend and leader. He had fallen on his face, and the streams of blood that flowed from his wound had literally flooded the way. The chaplain turned him gently over, and I stooped and called his name aloud, at which I thought then he murmured inarticulately. I presume I was mistaken, and I am not sure that he spoke a word after being struck, although in my dispatch I repeated a single exclamation which I had believed he uttered. It might have been Brownell, or the chaplain, who was close behind me. Winner and I lifted the body with all the care we could apply, and laid it upon a bed in a room near by. The rebel flag, stained with his blood and purified by this contact from the baseness of its former meaning, we laid about his feet. It was at first difficult to discover the precise locality of his wound, for all parts of his coat were equally saturated with blood. By cautiously loosening his belt and unbuttoning his coat, we found where the shot had penetrated. None of us had any medical knowledge, but we saw that all hope must be resigned. Nevertheless it seemed proper to summon the surgeon as speedily as possible. This could not easily be done, for, secluded as we were in that part of the town, and uncertain whether an ambush might not be awaiting us also, no man could volunteer to venture

forth alone, and to go together, and leave the Colonel's body behind, was out of the question. We wondered at the long delay of the first company, for the advance of which the Colonel had sent back before approaching the hotel, but we subsequently learned that they had mistaken a street, and gone a little out of their way. Before they arrived we had removed some of the unsightly stains front the Colonel's features, and composed his limbs. His expression in death was beautifully natural. The Colonel was a singularly handsome man, and, excepting the pallor, there was nothing different in his countenance now from what all his friends had so lately been accustomed to gladly recognize."

Private BROWNELL, who shot Jackson, is a native of Troy. The Troy Times says :

"He is a son of Charles Brownell, County Superintendent of the Poor, and is as modest as he has proved himself to be brave and cool. He is a member of Engine Company No. 1, of this city, and gave up a lucrative situation to enter the ranks of Colonel Ellsworth's regiment as a private soldier. All honor to him and to the cause in which he is engaged. He telegraphed to his father, immediately after the death of the lamented Ellsworth, in the following laconic dispatch ;

" ' FATHER,—Colonel Ellsworth was shot dead this morning. I killed his murderer.   FRANK '


Colonel Ellsworth
Harper's Ferry Railroad
Corporal Brownwell



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