The First Battles: April 1861 to February 1862

One Special Young Man

How did Lincoln, and others, respond to Ellsworth’s death?

There was profound mourning. Ellsworth had, among all the early Union commanders, exhibited something very special: a charming mixture of innocence and devotion. Lincoln was clearly distraught: this was when the reality of the war truly hit him. Ellsworth’s body lay in the East Room of the White House for several days and was seen by thousands. There were commemorations in other cities and towns. In New York City, the diarist George Templeton Strong commented that the lamented Colonel Ellsworth had done more for the Union cause in death than he could ever have accomplished in life.

This Currier & Ives illustration indicates the power of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, of whom it can rightly be said that he was more important to the Union in his death than in life.


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