Col. Elmer Ellsworth was a lawyer and soldier and friend of Abraham Lincoln who would become one of the first casualties of the Civil War. As a colonel of the Chicago National Guard Cadets before the war, Ellsworth introduced French-inspired Zouave uniforms and drills to the unit. He worked in Lincoln’s law office in August 1860 and assisted him during the fall campaign. After Lincoln’s election he helped organize troops, including the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which was composed of fire fighters. He was shot and killed on May 24, 1861 while removing a large Confederate flag from a tavern in Alexandria, Virginia.
Memory of Col. Ellsworth
Washington D.C. May 24, 1861,
Hall Franklin Fire Company, No. 4.
At a meeting of the Franklin Fire Company on Friday evening, May 24th, it as unanimously resolved that a committee of give shall be appointed to draw up suitable resolutions of respect to the memory of the late Colonel E. E. Ellsworth, and that a copy be sent to the Zouave Regiment and New York Fire Department.
Whereas the members of the Franklin Fire Company , No. 4, of Washington, D.C., have heard with deep regret and sorrow of the death of the late Col, E. E. Ellsworth, of the Fire Zouaves of New York, whose manly virtues, high integrity and gallant bearing, endeared him to all who knew him, and commanded he respect of all, while bowing submissive to the mysterious decrees of an all just God, we cannot allow the occasion to pass without uniting our voices with the thousands of our land who are now offering spontaneous testimonials of respect to the memory of a gallant young hero, and, while our hearts are painfully stirred by his untimely fate, record our homage of those lofty qualities in his character which will make his name imperishable.
Resolved, that in his death our county has lost a brave and gallant officer whose private virtues and noble character gathered around him a circle of friends who now deplore his loss, feeling that a bright star has suddenly gone out from the horizon of life, leaving only the memory of its splendor to cheer the gloom; when the dark cloud of disunion cast the shadow of its pall over the bright stars and stripes of our flag, the heroic Ellsworth was the first who gave up all for his county and the defence of its honor, and who gathered around him, inspired by his brave and patriotic spirit, the gallant sons of the Empire State.
Resolved, That we heartily and sincerely condole with the parents of Vol. Ellsworth in this their hour of affliction; knowing, however, that his loss must have struck deep grief into their hearts, the memory if his virtues and goodness and the fact of his having given his young life so entirely for his country’s good, must at the same time crown their gray hairs with honor, and lift up their senses with the firm hope that, beyond the dark veil which he was called to pass, his reward is eternal.
Resolved, That, with our brothers of the New York Fire Department, we mourn his loss; they have lost a friend and good counselor, one who rejoiced with them in their success and joys, and shared their dangers and griefs ; they have lost a friend and bright example, whose lessons of kindness will never be forgotten.
William H. Beardsly, Ch’n.
George R. Crossfield.
Louis William Dorsey.
Citation: Memory of Col. Ellsworth. May 1861. AMs 811/2.8