Chapter 6

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, ix.

    “When I spoke of him, the result was usually the question, ‘Who is Colonel Ellsworth?’”

    Full quote: "Another of my discoveries was that today people in general know nothing of Ellsworth.   When I spoke of him the result was usually the question, 'Who was Colonel Ellsworth?'   The occasional exception came from those who a progenitor who had been among the hundreds of babies named for him, and usually knew about him was that 'Grandfather was named Elmer Ellsworth.'   Even professors of American history (unless their specialty was the Civil War period) sometimes asked 'Who was he?'"

  2. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 43.

“Lincoln’s secretary, John Hay was to say, he ‘knew God had made him a soldier’.”

According to the author, Ellsworth possessed a strong desire to join the military.   The full quote reads, "In the four years from 1854 to1858 young Ellsworth thought he had 'lived in experience twenty years.'   During these years in Chicago he had not forgotten for a moment his longing for a military career.   That was the one thing that made his work with Arthur Devereux in the patent-soliciting business, otherwise so intolerable to him.   Any occupation not connected with the military was frustrating to this youth, 'who' as John Hay once said, 'knew that God had made him a soldier.'"

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 44

“Naturally each of these companies needed someone to train it, a man who was an expert in military tactics and preferably one who was a magnetic leader. Ellsworth qualified eminently on both counts. In those years, in Chicago his interest soon drew him into military circles. This explains why, as early as 1865 [age nineteen], he was attending the First Grand Military and Civic Ball of the Cadets of the National Guard. There was to be a mention in Ellsworth’s Manual of Arms that he drilled these same cadets in July of the following year, 1857.

His drawings of soldiers in his schoolbooks had revealed Ellsworth’s love of uniforms. Furthermore, he liked uniforms that had style and color. It was part of the romantic approach to warfare; war was glamorized and poetized with such trappings as sweeping plumes, flowing sashes, golden spurs, and flashing sabers.”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "Naturally each of these companies needed someone to train it, a man who was an expert in military tactics and preferably one who was a magnetic leader.   Ellsworth qualified eminently on both counts.   In those years in Chicago his interest soon drew him into military circles.   This explains why, as early as 1856 (age nineteen), he was attending the First Grand Military and Civic Ball of the Cadets of the National Guard.   There was to be a mention in Ellsworth's Manual of Arms that he drilled these same cadets in July of the following year, 1857.

                His drawings of soldiers in his schoolbooks had revealed Ellsworth's love of uniforms.   Furthermore, he liked uniforms that had style and color.   It was part of a romantic approach to warfare; war was glamorized and poetized with such trappings as sweet plumes, flowing sashes, golden spurs, and flashing sabers."   The author elaborates on this theme, going on to say "The Civil War, only four years in the future when Ellsworth was twenty, has been called the last romantic war, fought in the grand manner,   Many of its ideas and ideals seem more closely related to the age of chivalry than to those of today."

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 46.

“Why were those scarlet trousers so loose and baggy and why did the dark blue and gold-trimmed jacket and blue shirt have no collar?” Fluid mobility was the reason: “no one could do the exacting Zouave drill in a stiff, tight uniform; a Zouave had to have complete freedom of motion to go through the maneuvers.”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "Unknown to him, fate was bringing across the ocean and to Chicago itself the very person who could answer all his questions, Charles A. DeVilliers, who had served as in a French Zouave regiment in the Crimean War.   Possibly the first two met because Ellsworth wanted to take fencing lessons and DeVilliers was an expert swordsman.   Under DeVilliers instruction Ellsworth did become one of the most skillful fencers in Chicago and at the same time he learned innumerable details about the Zouaves.   Why were those scarlet trousers so loose and baggy and why did the dark blue, gold-trimmed jacket and blue shirt have no collars?   The answer was that no one could do the exacting Zouave drill in a stiff, tight uniform; a Zouave had to have complete freedom of motion to go through his maneuvers."

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 47.

“Ellsworth promptly studied French well enough to read them, and with abounding energy and a fierce self-discipline he ‘budgeted his time almost to the minute”’.”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "After talking with DeVillies, Ellsworth sent to France for books about the Zouave system.   He studied French long enough to read them, probably having DeVillier's help in both the study and the reading.   By this time it is evident that young Ellsworth had an unusual mind and ceaseless energy; it will be seen that he budgeted his time almost to the minute.   The result was amazing accomplishment in a short period."

For more complete details regarding the Zouave drill see Randall, Chapter 5.

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 48.

From the text: “This display would have been impressive enough by itself, but the effect was heightened by the squad’s instantaneous, often staccato response to shouted commands from its leader, Major Ellsworth (a rank he was granted in 1857 at the age of twenty)”

From Randall:   "By December, 1857, he was being addressed as Major Ellsworth, for that devoted friend General R. K. Swift, whom he had affectionately described as 'bluff, hearty, and good natured,' had appointed him an aide on his staff with this rank."   Elmer Ellsworth was born April 11, 1837, in Malta, NY.

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 179.

“It was just this sort of vigor that led John Hay to note in his diary that he had followed Ellsworth into an armory, ‘where a score of awkward youths were going sleepily through their manual, and [at] his first order, sharply and crisply given, would open every eye and straighten every spine. No matter how severe the drill, his men never thought of fatigue. His own indomitable spirit sustained them all’.”

A slightly more complete quote reads: (Speaking of Ellsworth) "To describe this quality, one must borrow the words of John Hay, who knew him so well, and who recognized that only those who had felt it themselves could ever understand the effect of this magnetism.   'No man,' wrote Hay, 'ever possessed in a more eminent degree the power of personal fascination.   That faculty...'of winning, fettering, moving and commanding the souls of thousands till they move as one', he enjoyed, in a measure, of which the world will forever remain ignorant.   He exercised an influence almost mesmeric, upon bodies of organized individuals with whom he was brought into contact.'   Hay continued that he had seen Ellsworth enter an armory "where a score of awkward youths were going sleepily through their manual, and his first order, sharp and crisply given, would open every eye and straighten every spine.   No matter how severe the drill, his men never thought of fatigue.   His own indomitable spirit sustained them all’."

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 49.

“He was an unusually short, vibrant, very handsome young man with a deep, loud, resonant voice, which, as one of the corpsmen said, ‘could have been distinctly heard at a distance of four blocks away’.”

This quote is attributed to Mr. Frank E. Peats of the "Rockford Greys".   Author's full quote: "He (Peat) also told what happened at the banquet. At one point in the ceremonies, 'according to an ancient precedent...the captain of the Greys   tendered the command of his company to either of the numerous guests present, but they all declined by saying 'We beg to be excused while Major Ellsworth is present.'   (Judging by what happened later, they may have been trying the young man out.)    Ellsworth accepted the captain's invitation, and turning to the Rockford Greys, who were lined up in readiness, he began to give his commands.   A little start of astonishment began went over the whole group at the power of his voice, 'which,' Mr. Peats said, 'Could have been distinctly heard at a distance of four blocks away.'"

  1. Randall, Lincoln's Sons, 79.

“A boyish figure, not exceeding five feet six inches in height, quick motioned, with well-formed, shapely limbs… a spirited well-balanced head crowned with a wealth of almost black hair that fell in careless, clinging curls about his neck, eyes of dark hazel that sparkled and flashed with excitement or melted with tenderness…Add to this a majestic and chivalrous personality which created a feeling of well-being, enthusiasm, and gaiety in those it touched; put this romantic figure in a dashing uniform, watch him put his company of Zuoaves through the most intricate drills with perfect precision, and [who] could resist him?”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "His biographer, Charles A. Ingraham, quotes a newspaper description of him: 'A boyish figure, not exceeding five feet six inches in height, with well formed, shapely limbs...a well balanced head crowned with a wealth of dark brown hair that fell in careless, clinging curls about his neck, eyes of dark hazel that sparkled and flashed with excitement or melted with tenderness...'   Add to this a magnetic and chivalrous personality which created a feeling of well-being, enthusiasm and gaiety in those it touched, put this romantic figure in a dashing uniform, watch him put his company of Zouaves through the most intricate drills with perfect precision, and [who] could resist him?'"

  1. Note (Tripp):   In her biography of Elmer Ellsworth Ruth Painter Randall bestows a certain dignified formality on "General John Cook" by constantly referring to him as "General."   But, in fact, even the title of colonel appears to have been hardly more than honorary; in Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln Cook is identified before the war only as "one of Springfield's leading businessmen" (vol. 2, p. 292n).   Considerably later (March 3, 1862) Lincoln appointed Cook as "Brigadier General of Volunteers" (vol. 5, p. 142).

As John Cook described his own critical role,   he was, “in a position to know that Mr. Lincoln had a special interest in Colonel Ellsworth, and was making every effort to have him settle down in Springfield to study law at the Lincoln law office.”  

The first note regarding Cook as "one of Springfield's leading businessmen" refers to a footnote attached to the Bond for John T. Stuart, dated December 6, 1854, which distinguishes Cook from the other signers.   The second note refers to a letter written by Lincoln to the Honorable Secretary of War on March 3, 1862, which appoints Cook (among others) to the position of Brigadier general of volunteers.

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 163.

“I don’t know what I shall decide in reference to Mr. Lincoln’s proposition…Mr. Crook told me that Mr. L—especially desired him to leave no means un-turned [emphasis in original] to induce me to come to Springfield. I cannot but regard this as a very great compliment.”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "While Ellsworth perforce was giving less attention to his law study at this time, he intended to go back to it after the competitive tour of the Zouaves was finished.   'I don't know what I shall decide in reference to Mr. Lincoln's proposition,' he wrote Carrie, '...Mr. Cook told me that Mr. L-especially desired him to leave no means unturned to induce me to come to Springfield.   I cannot but regard this as a very great compliment.'"

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 164.

“I was offered very great inducements to remain at Springfield [emphasis in original], and am still stronger ones, to go there in the spring & complete my studies with Hon. Abram Lincoln…What think you?”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "He wrote Mrs. Spafford about the matter on the last day of January, revealing incidentally that the people at Springfield had tried to keep him from returning to Chicago at all.   'I was offered very great inducements to remain in Springfield,' he said, 'and still stronger ones, to go there in the spring and complete my studies, with Hon Abram Lincoln...What think you?'"

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 167-168.

“John Cook had added, ‘My conviction that this is the place for you to commence life as a public man is unchanged’.”

A slightly more complete quote reads:   "In the same letter he wrote further about Mr. Lincoln's proposition.   he had just received a letter from John Cook, emphasizing again Lincoln's extraordinary interest in him and the lawyer's earnest wish that Ellsworth would come to Springfield.   John Cook added, '

My conviction that this is the place for you to commence life as a public man is unchanged.'   The words 'public man' opened up new possibilities.   Ellsworth asked Carrie's advice about it: "Now little on what is your Majesty's sage opinion?'"

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 4.

“You ask me if I have seen our friend Mr. Lincoln. I answer yes, repeatedly and never without the conversation turning upon you and his expressing an earnest desire that you should make this place your home & his office your head quarters. He has taken in   you a greater interest than I ever knew him to manifest in any one before.”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "Colonel Ellsworth was not coming to Springfield for the first time.   He had spent some weeks in the town the previous winter and had made warm friends, Mr. Lincoln among them.   One of these friends, General John Cook, had commander of the Springfield Greys, was in a position to know that Mr. Lincoln had a special interest in Ellsworth and was making every effort to have him settle down in Springfield to study law in the Lincoln law office.   After his stay in Springfield the previous January, Ellsworth had exchanged letters with General Cook, who had written him in March: 'You ask me if I have seen our friend Mr. Lincoln.   I answer yes repeatedly and never without the conversation turning upon you and his expressing an earnest desire that you should make this place your home and his office your head quarters.   he has taken in you a greater interest than I ever knew him to manifest in any one before.'"

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 6-7.

“It was hot in Springfield on that afternoon of August 13, [1860] and Mr. Lincoln watch the show [of Ellsworth and his Zuoaves] as he stood in the shade of a cottonwood tree in a yard on Sixth Street. Few scenes could have blazed more color than the one before him. In the bright sunshine stood some fifty fine young Americans dressed in gorgeous uniforms of red, blue and gold. Each man wore loose scarlet trousers, high gaiters, a collarless blue jacket trimmed with gold braid, a shirt of lighter blue, and a jaunty red cap with orange or gold decorations…Mr. Lincoln watched the two-hour drill with kindling eyes. He too centered his attention upon the boyish-looking commander. Afterwards, he said of Colonel Ellsworth, “He is the greatest little man I ever met.”

A slightly more complete quote reads:   "It was hot in Springfield on that afternoon of August 13 and Mr. Lincoln watched the show as he stood in the shade of a cottonwood tree in a yard on Sixth Street.   Few scenes could have blazed with more color than the one before him.   In the bright sunshine stood some fifty young American s dressed in gorgeous uniforms of red, blue, and gold.   Each man wore loose scarlet trousers, high gaiters, a collarless blue jacket trimmed with gold braid, a shirt of lighter blue, and a jaunty red cap with gold or orange decorations."

Randall further describes the effect of the Zouaves on the crowd watching their drill;   "The crowd was going wild with applause and cheers.   It was a blood-stirring spectacle as graceful in movement and as beautiful as an elaborate ballet.   The spectators could hardly take their eyes off the young officer who was calling out the orders in a ringing voice.   They sensed the magnetic bond between him and his men, who obeyed him as if their muscles were his own.   Every command was executed with faultless precision."

Finally, Randall includes the effect on Mr. Lincoln himself, "Mr. Lincoln watched the two-hour drill with kindling eyes.   He too centered his attention on the boyish-looking commander.   Afterwards he said of Colonel Ellsworth, 'He is the greatest little man I have ever met.'"

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 210.

“On other occasions, he was heard to comment that Ellsworth had ‘a power to command men’ which he said was ‘surpassingly great,’ adding at still another time that he was ‘the best natural talent, in that department, I ever knew’.”

Randall elaborates, "Naturally Mr. Lincoln had taken an interest in Ellsworth's enthusiastic and successful campaigning in his behalf.   The lawyer found out, as he wrote later, that this boyish looking young man had a 'power to command men' which was 'surpassingly great.'   Mr. Lincoln also said that he considered Ellsworth's military aptitude "the best natural talent, in that department, I ever knew.'   He not only gave Ellsworth great affection (a love which John Hay compared to that of a father for his son), but he was tremendously interested in this military talent at a time when it seemed likely that the Union would need all the military strength and astuteness it could muster."

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 134-135.

“This is a very extensive world…and there are in it many people[,] among them undoubtedly is some aged and obese gentleman possessed of a fabulous fortune, in his own right, and a gold headed cane, who only awaits a convenient opportunity to pat me on the head and adopt me as his own. I expect to meet this individual about the same time my fortune changes and I can see in the future something else than misfortune and disappointment.”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "Then he takes Carrie playfully with him into a pleasing daydream.   ‘This is a very extensive world sweet one and there are in it many people among them undoubtedly is some aged and obese gentleman possessed of a fabulous fortune, in his own right, and a gold headed cane, who only awaits a convenient opportunity to pat me on the head and adopt me as his own.   I expect to meet this individual about the same time my fortune changes and I can see in the future something else than misfortune and disappointment.’   He continues seriously:   ‘Carrie, darling, it’s a long lane etc you know the old saying, and if God only grants me health and strength I will yet surmount these difficulties and wring from old Dame Fortune her consent unwilling though it be to a change in the program of my existence’."

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 219.

During these days in Springfield, from September, 1860 to February, 1861, Ellsworth was seeing Lincoln constantly and their friendship had become, to use Lincoln’s own word, ‘intimate’.”

A slightly more complete quote reads:   "During these days in Springfield from September, 1860 to February, 1861, Ellsworth was seeing Lincoln constantly and their friendship had become, to use Lincoln's own word, 'intimate.'"

Reference to the term "fatherly" comes from the following quote, "He [Lincoln] not only gave Ellsworth great affection (a love which John Jay compared to that of a father for his son), but he was tremendously interested in this military talent at a time when it seemed very likely that the Union would need all the military strength and astuteness it could muster."(Randall, 210)

  1. Whitney, Life of Lincoln, vol. 2, 87.

From the text: “In speaking of the Ellsworth tie, he found a semi-sexual analogy, noting; ‘a relationship like that of knight and squire of the age of chivalry existed between the two’.”  

A slightly more complete quote reads: "A relationship like that of a knight and squire of the age of chivalry existed between the two.   Lincoln had grown too wise to give of his confidences to the young men about him, but he none the less took a deep interest in them, studying their natures and loving them for their personal loyalty to him, and for their enthusiasm in his cause which they had made their own."

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 218.  

From the text:   “Lizzie Grimsley (Mary Lincoln’s cousin and an early visitor at the White House) put the whole flavor of Ellsworth in a single phrase: ‘a magnetic, brilliant young fellow, overflowing with dash and spirit’.”

For Randall's noting of Lizzie Grimsley's remark.

Randall provides a more complete account of Lizzie Grimsley's observation; "From the time The Lincolns moved into the White House, Ellsworth was a constant, welcome visitor.   Mrs. Lincoln's cousin, Elizabeth Grimsley (who had come to stay with her for her first months in the Executive Mansion), said later of the young Colonel: 'He had been a member of the family ever since we went to Washington...and was much beloved.'   She added her own description of him: "a magnetic, brilliant young fellow, overflowing with dash and spirit.'"

  1. Lincoln, Collected Works, vol. 4, 273.

“Executive Chamber

March 5, 1861

Dear Sir:

If the public service admits of a change, without injury, in the office of chief clerk of the War Department, I shall be pleased of [sic] my friend, E. Elmer Ellsworth….shall be appointed.

Yours truly,

Lincoln"

A slightly more complete quote reads:

                “Dear Sir:

If the public service admits of a change, without injury, in the office of chief clerk of the War Department, I shall be pleased of my friend, E. Elmer Ellsworth, who presents you this, shall be appointed.   Of course, if you see good reason to the contrary, this is not intended to be arbitrary.  

Yours truly,

A Lincoln.

Hon. Somin Cameron.”

  1. Lincoln, Collected Works, vol. 4, 291.

 

“Executive Mansion

 

To the Secretary of War:

March 18 th, 1861

 

 Sir:   You will favor me by issuing an order detailing Lieut. Ephriam E Ellsworth, of the First Dragoons, for special duty as Adjutant and Inspector General of Militia for the United States, and in so far as existing laws will permit, charge him with the transaction, under your direction, of all business pertaining to the Militia, to be conducted as a seperat bureau, of which Lieut Ellsworth will be chief, with instructions to take measures for promoting a uniform system of organization, drill, equiptment, &c. &c. of the U.S. Militia, and to prepare a system of drill for Light troops, adapted for self instruction, for distribution to the Militia of the several States.   You will please assign him suitable office rooms, furniture &c. and provide him with a clerk and messenger, access to public records, &c. as he may desire for the successful prosecution of his duties; and also provide in such manner as may be most convenient and proper, for a monthly payment to Lieut. Ellsworth, for this extra duty, sufficient to make his pay equal that of a Major of Cavalry.

 

Your Obt. Servt.

A. Lincoln.”

A slightly more complete quote reads:

“To the Secretary of War:  

Sir:  

You will favor me by issuing an order detailing Lieut. Ephraim E Ellsworth, of the First Dragoons, for special duty as Adjutant and Inspector General of Militia for the United States, and in so far as existing laws will permit, charge him with the transaction, under your direction, of all business pertaining to the Militia, to be conducted as a separate bureau, of which Lieut. Ellsworth will be chief, with instructions to take measures for promoting a uniform system of organization, drill, equipment, &c. &c. of the U.S. Militia, and to prepare a system of drill for Light troops, adapted for self instruction, for distribution to the Militia of the several States.   You will please assign him suitable office rooms, furniture &c. and provide him with a clerk and messenger, access to public records, &c. as he may desire for the successful prosecution of his duties; and also provide in such manner as may be most convenient and proper, for a monthly payment to Lieut. Ellsworth, for this extra duty, sufficient to make his pay equal that of a Major of Cavalry. your Obt. Servt. A. Lincoln.

  1. Lincoln, Collected Works, vol. 4, 333.

               

“To Elmer E. Ellsworth

 

Col. E. E. Ellsworth:

My dear Sir:   Ever since the beginning of our acquaintance, I have valued you highly as a person[al] friend, and at the same time (without much capacity of judging) have had a very high estimate of your military talent.   Accordingly I have been, and still am anxious for you to have the best position in the military which can be given you, consistently with justice and proper courtesy towards the older officers in the army.   I cannot incur the risk of doing them injustice, or a discourtesy; but I do say they would personally oblige me; if they could, and would place you in some position, or in some service, satisfactory to yourself.

 

Your Obt. Servt.

A. Lincoln.”

Col. E. E. Ellsworth: My dear Sir:   Ever since the beginning of our acquaintance, I have valued you highly as a person[al] friend, and at the same time (without much capacity of judging) have had a very high estimate of your military talent.   Accordingly I have been, and still am anxious for you to have the best position in the military which can be given you, consistently with justice and proper courtesy towards the older officers in the army.   I cannot incur the risk of doing them injustice, or a discourtesy; but I do say they would personally oblige me; if they could, and would place you in some position, or in some service, satisfactory to yourself.

Your Obt. Servt.  

A. Lincoln.

  1. Lincoln, Collected Works, vol. 4, 259.

From the text: “One of his companions, a newspaper writer named House, later said that Ellsworth, ‘dropped forward with that heavy horrible headlong weight which always comes of sudden death inflicted in this manner’.”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "As Brownell reached 'the first landing-place or entry,' he saw a man jump out from a dark passage on the second floor and aim a double-barreled shotgun at the colonel's breast.   Ellsworth did not see him, as he was occupied in folding the flag.   Brownell make a quick pass to turn the weapon aside, but the civilian's hand was firm and he discharged one barrel straight to its aim, the slugs entering Ellsworth's breast.   House, whose arm was resting on Ellsworth's shoulder said, '...he seemed to fall almost from my 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 with sudden death inflicted in this manner.'"

  1. Lincoln, Collected Works, vol. 4, 259.

“They had nothing to cover him with but the rebel flag wet with his blood. They wanted to get a surgeon, but did not know where one could be found, nor could they leave Ellsworth’s body alone in that house of violence.” Meanwhile, according to House, they tried to “remove some of the unsightly stains from the Colonel’s features and compose his limbs. His expression in death was beautifully natural.”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "Winser, House, and Chaplain Dodge then bent over Colonel Ellsworth, so unbelievably, it seemed, lying on his face in his own blood.   The chaplain gently turned him over and House stooped and called his name.   He thought he heard an inarticulate murmur in reply but could not be certain.   With careful hands House and Winser lifted the form and carried ii into a nearby bedroom, laying it upon the bed.   They had nothing to cover him with but the rebel flag wet with his blood.   They unbuttoned his coat and saw the dreadful , fatal wound in his breast.   They wanted to get a surgeon, but did not know where one could be found nor could they leave Ellsworth's body alone in that house of violence.   they must wait until company A, for which he had sent, arrived.   Meanwhile they tried, House said, to remove 'some of the unsightly stains from the Colonel's features, and compose his limbs.   his expression in death was beautifully natural.'"

  1. Lincoln, Collected Works, vol. 4, 260-261.

From the text: “But the news was soon out and spread rapidly, plunging the Zuouaves into grief. ‘One of them with tears running down his face said, ‘Oh God bless him, God bless him! We’ll never have another friend like him!’ Another said to one who had just come up, ‘Our noble laddie’s dead, Jim. And turned away weeping’.”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "When the tragedy could no longer be withheld from the Zuoaves and they learned that their beloved leader was dead, they were beside themselves with grief.   One of them with tears running down his face said, 'Oh God bless him, God bless him! We'll never have another friend like him!'   Another said to one who had just come up, 'Our noble laddie's dead, Jim,' and then turned away weeping.   It was almost more than Lieutenant Colonel Farnham could do to restrain them from setting fire to Alexandria."

  1. Lincoln, Collected Works, vol. 4, 261-262.

“Two visitors who had come on a pressing matter of public business entered the library. Mr. Lincoln, his back to them, stood looking out of a window toward the Potomac and did not move until they came quite close. Then, turning, he extended his hand and said, ‘Excuse me, but I cannot talk.’ The two gentlemen thought perhaps a cold had affected his voice until suddenly they saw him burst into tears and cover his face with a handkerchief. ‘He walked up and down the room for some moments,' said one of them, ‘and we stepped aside in silence, not a little moved at such an unusual spectacle, in such a man in such a place’.

After Lincoln had regained his self-control somewhat, he invited his visitors to sit down with him. ‘I will make no apology, gentlemen,’ he said, ‘for my weakness; but I knew poor Ellsworth well, and held him in great regard. Just as you entered the room, Captain Fox left me, after giving me the painful details of Ellsworth’s unfortunate death. The event was so unexpected, and the recital so touching, that it quite unmanned me.’

Here Mr. Lincoln had to make another effort to control his feelings.”

   A slightly more complete quote reads: "That morning of May 24, an officer with a saddened face entered the White House.   he had come to tell the tragic news to another man who loved Ellsworth with a father's love.   In the library on the second floor he related to President Lincoln what had happened.   As he left the room two visitors who had come a pressing matter of public business entered the library.   Mr. Lincoln, his back to them, stood looking out of a window towards the Potomac and did not move until they came quite close.   Then, turning, he extended his hand and said; Excuse me, but I cannot talk.'   The two gentlemen thought that perhaps a cold had effected his voice until suddenly they saw him burst into tears and cover his face with his handkerchief.   'He walked up and down the room for some moments,' said one of them, "and we stepped aside in silence, not a little moved at such an unusual spectacle, in such a man in such a place.'   After Lincoln had regained his self-control somewhat, he invited his visitors to sit down with him.   'I will take no apology, gentlemen,' he said, 'for my weakness; but I knew poor Ellsworth well, and held him in great regard.   just as you entered the room, Captain Fox left me, after giving me the painful details of Ellsworth's unfortunate death.   The event was so unexpected, and the recital so touching, that it quite unmanned me.'"

  1. Earl Schenck Miers, et al.   Lincoln Day by Day, vol. III, 43.

From the text: “He also arranged for the body to be moved to the White House; since the president had suffered a personal bereavement, the funeral services were to be held in the Executive Mansion. Thousands filed through the East Room to view the body as it lay in state.”

 Taken directly from Lincoln Day by Day, May 24, 1861: "Learning of tragedy through War Department telegram, Lincoln weeps openly over death of young friend, Col. Ellsworth, shot by proprietor of Marshall House in Alexandria, Va., for removing Confederate flag flying over building.   Calls cabinet meeting at noon to discuss incident.   Drives with Mrs. Lincoln to Navy Yard to view body Ellsworth's body.   Receives reporter and Sen. Wilson (Mass.) at White House, but excuses himself as unable to talk.   Returns to Navy Yard in evening and arranges for removal of body to White House for funeral."   May 25, 1861:   "President and Mrs. Lincoln attend funeral service for Col. Ellsworth at noon in East Room, where body has lain in state since early morning.   Mrs. Lincoln places Ellsworth's picture and a wreath on casket."

  1. Shutes, Lincoln's Emotional Life, 139.

From the text: “The San Francisco Alta not only ran a story on Ellsworth’s death but caught the personal tragedy of it in its very title: THE TEARS OF LINCOLN.”

A slightly more complete quote from Shutes reads: “Tragedies of war soon became personal matters for the President.   The first conspicuous victim (May 26) was his Springfield protégé, Elmer Ellsworth, a flashing youth of brilliance, energy and self-confidence.   A colorful leader of a spirited company of Zouaves, he was killed after pulling own a Confederate flag in nearby Alexandria.   His funeral service was held in the White House and Lincoln wept over him.   The San Francisco Alta headlined its Ellsworth story: ‘The Tears of Lincoln.’”

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 271.

From the text: “When Robert E. Lee heard it he turned to his aide-de-camp, Major Barclay, and commented with much insight that “it was his belief that if Ellsworth had lived, he would have become the commanding general of the Union Army.”

A slightly more complete quote from Randall reads, "Major Barclay was located at Camp Washington near Richmond, Virginia, when the news came.   General Lee said to Barclay it was his belief that if Ellsworth had lived, he would have become the commanding general of the Union Army.   General Lee also expressed the highest admiration for Ellsworth's military talents."

  1. Lincoln, Collected Works, vol. 4, 385.
 

                "To the Father and Mother of Col. Elmer Ellsworth:  

Washington D.C. May 25, 1861.

 

My dear Sir and Madam:

In the untimely loss of your noble son, our affliction here, is scarcely less than your own.   So much of promised usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for one's self and friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed, as in his fall.   In size, in years, and in youthful appearance, a boy only, his power to command men, was surpassingly great.   this power, combined with a fine intellect, an indomitable energy, and a taste altogether military, constituted in him, as seemed to me, the best natural talent, in that department, I ever knew.   And yet he was singularly modest and deferential in social intercourse.   My acquaintance with him began less than two years ago; yet through the latter half of the intervening period, it was as intimate as the disparity of our ages, and my engrossing engagements, would permit.   To me, he appeared to have no indulgences or pastimes; and I never heard him utter a profane, or intemperate word.   What was conclusive of his good heart, he never forgot his parents.   The honor he labored for so laudably, and, in the sad end, so gallantly gave his life, he meant for them, no less than himself.

                I

n the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of my young friend, and your brave and early fallen child.  

 

May God give you that consolation which is beyond all earthly power.  

 

Sincerely your friend in a common affliction-

A. Lincoln."

A slightly more complete quote:  

"To the Father and Mother of Col. Elmer Ellsworth:

Washington D.C. May 25, 1861.

 My dear Sir and madam:

In the untimely loss of your noble son, our affliction here, is scarcely less than your own.   So much of promised usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for one's self and friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed, as in his fall.   In size, in years, and in youthful appearance, a boy only, his power to command men, was surpassingly great.   this power, combined with a fine intellect, an indomitable energy, and a taste altogether military, constituted in him, as seemed to me, the best natural talent, in that department, I ever knew.   And yet he was singularly modest and deferential in social intercourse.   My acquaintance with him began less than two years ago; yet through the latter half of the intervening period, it was as intimate as the disparity of our ages, and my engrossing engagements, would permit.   To me, he appeared to have no indulgences or pastimes; and I never heard him utter a profane, or intemperate word.   What was conclusive of his good heart, he never forgot his parents.   The honor he labored for so laudably, and, in the sad end, so gallantly gave his life, he meant for them, no less than himself.

                In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of my young friend, and your brave and early fallen child.  May God give you that consolation which is beyond all earthly power.   Sincerely your friend in a common affliction- A. Lincoln."

32 Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 266.

“My dear Father and Mother,

 

The Regiment is ordered to move across the river tonight...I am inclined to the opinion that our entrance to the city of Alexandria will be hotly contested...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 of the past I am perfectly content to accept whatever my fortune may be, confident that he who notheth 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 bye. God bless, protect and care for you.  

Elmer."

                A more complete quote reads, "Private services were held for family and friends in that room at the Astor House.   Carrie could not come; an injury to her ankle in addition to the prostration of grief made the trip impossible for her.   At these services the clergymen read aloud Ellsworth's last letter to his parents, the one written the night before he died and found upon his body.   To them it must have seemed as if they could hear the loved voice speaking.

                My dear Father and Mother, The Regiment is ordered to move across the river tonight...I am inclined to the opinion that our entrance to the city of Alexandria will be hotly contested...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 of the past I am perfectly content to accept whatever my fortune may be, confident that he who notheth 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 bye,   God bless, protect and care for you.   Elmer."

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 252.

                “My own darling Kitty,

                My Regiment is ordered to cross the river and move on Alexandria within six hours.   We may meet with some warm reception and my darling among so many careless fellows one is somewhat likely to be hit.

                If anything should happen-Darling just accept this assurance, the only thing I can leave you-the highest happiness I looked for on earth was a union with you.   You have more than realized the hopes I formed regarding your advancement-and I believe I love you with all the ardor I am capable of.   You know my darling any attempt of mine to convey an adequate expression of my feelings must be simply futile.   God bless you as you deserve and grant you a happy and useful life and us a union hereafter.

Truly your own,

Elmer."

A slightly more complete quote reads:  

"This is the letter he wrote Carrie that night in his tent at fort Lincoln while his watch was ticking off the minutes until his departure for Alexandria:

                My own darling Kitty,

                My Regiment is ordered to cross the river and move on Alexandria within six hours.   We may meet with some warm reception and my darling among so many careless fellows one is somewhat likely to be hit.

                If anything should happen-Darling just accept this assurance, the only thing I can leave you-the highest happiness I looked for on earth was a union with you.   You have more than realized the hopes I formed regarding your advancement-and I believe I love you with all the ardor I am capable of.   You know my darling any attempt of mine to convey an adequate expression of my feelings must be simply futile.   God bless you as you deserve and grant you a happy and useful life and us a union hereafter.

Truly your own,

Elmer."

  1. Randall, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 254.

      

“…[a] gold badge with the Latin inscription which means ‘Not for ourselves but for country.’ [Non Solum Nobis sed Pro Patria]. When he was dressed and ready, he was again gay and full of jest.”

A slightly more complete quote reads: "At Midnight Captain John A. Dahlgren of the Navy yard, who was in command of the three steamers which would transport the regiment down the river, arrived at Camp Lincoln.   He reported at once, he said, to Colonel Ellsworth who told him everything was in readiness.   Ellsworth had attired himself in a handsome uniform which, according to one of his captains, he had selected with great care, making a remark about choosing the clothes in which he was to die.   The captain also remembered Ellsworth saying he had a feeling his country would require his blood immediately.   In this mood he had fastened upon his breast the gold badge with the Latin inscription which means 'Not for ourselves but for country.'   When he was dressed and ready, he was again gay and full of jest."

 
 

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