New York-born Elmer E. Ellsworth had studied at Abraham Lincoln's law office in Springfield, Illinois and worked with him during the election campaign. When war broke out, Ellsworth returned to New York and helped raise a regiment , the 11th New York, called the "Fire Zouaves," from the city's firemen. Stationed in Washington in command of the 11th, on the morning of Friday, May 24, 1861 he had led a patrol across the river into Alexandria, Virginia where a large Confederate flag was flying from a hotel called the Marshall House. The 5 ' 6" twenty-four year old colonel retreived the flag but was shot and killed by the hotel's proprietor, James W. Jackson, who was in turn killed by Private Francis Brownell. Lincoln wept on hearing the news and arranged for Ellsworth's body to lay in state at the White House. The letter written to Ellsworth's parents the next day demonstrates the depth of the president's shock at the event. (By John Osborne)
Abraham Lincoln to Ephraim and Phoebe Ellsworth, May 25, 1861, Washington, DC, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/alhtml/malhome.html.
Transcribed by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, IL
Adapted by Don Sailer, Dickinson College