Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE COLONEL OF THE ZOUAVES
BY NOAH BROOKS (ADAPTED)
AMONG those who accompanied Mr. Lincoln, the
President-elect, on his journey from Illinois to
 the national capital, was Elmer E. Ellsworth, a young man
who had been employed in the law office of Lincoln and
He was a brave, handsome, and impetuous youth, and was among
the first to offer his services to the President in defense
of the Union, as soon as the mutterings of war were heard.
Before the war he had organized a company of Zouaves from
the Chicago firemen, and had delighted and astonished many
people by the exhibitions of their skill in the evolutions
through which they were put while visiting some chief cities
of the Republic.
Now, being commissioned a second lieutenant in the United
States Army, he went to New York and organized from the
firemen of that city a similar regiment, known as the
Eleventh New York.
Colonel Ellsworth's Zouaves, on the evening of May 23, were
sent with a considerable force to occupy the heights
overlooking Washington and Alexandria, on the banks of the
Potomac, opposite the national capital.
Next day, seeing a Confederate flag flying from the Marshall
House, a tavern in Alexandria kept by a secessionist, he
went up through the building to the roof and pulled it down.
While on his way down the stairs, with the flag in his arms,
he was met by the tavern-keeper, who shot and killed him
instantly. Ellsworth fell, dyeing the
 Confederate flag with the blood that gushed from his heart.
The tavern-keeper was instantly killed by a shot from
Private Brownell, of the Ellsworth Zouaves, who was at hand
when his commander fell.
The death of Ellsworth, needless though it may have been,
caused a profound sensation throughout the country, where he
was well known. He was among the very first martyrs of the
war, as he had been one of the first volunteers.
Lincoln was overwhelmed with sorrow. He had the body of the
lamented young officer taken to the White House, where it
lay in state until the burial took place, and, even in the
midst of his increasing cares, he found time to sit alone
and in grief-stricken meditation by the bier of the dead
young soldier of whose career he had cherished so great
The life-blood from Ellsworth's heart had stained not only
the Confederate flag, but a gold medal found under his
uniform, bearing the legend: "Non solum nobis, sed pro
patria"; "Not for ourselves alone, but for the country."