Arnold Elzey (American National Biography)

Robert E. L. Krick, "Elzey, Arnold," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
Elzey enjoyed a long and impressive antebellum career, serving in both the Seminole War and the Mexican War. As a captain of artillery during the latter conflict, he fought in many of the major battles. His gallantry on the field at Contreras and Churubusco won him double brevets.

By the outbreak of the Civil War, Elzey had twenty-four years of experience as an officer. Despite being from a border state that had not seceded, he resigned from the Old Army on 25 April 1861 to ally himself with the new Confederacy. His initial rank was lieutenant colonel. As was the case with most officers of the regular service, Elzey’s commission was backdated to 16 March 1861. On 17 June 1861 he became colonel of the First Maryland Infantry.

Elzey’s brightest moment in the Civil War came in his first battle. At First Manassas, on 21 July 1861, Elzey assumed control of all four regiments in his brigade after General Edmund Kirby Smith fell wounded. Together they arrived at a pivotal moment on an unguarded Union flank. Seizing his opportunity, Elzey smashed the Federal right, hastening the imminent Confederate victory. His reward came on 28 August 1861, when he received promotion to brigadier general, to rank from the day of his success at First Manassas.
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