Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth, 11 Apr 1837 - 24 May 1861 Search this
Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative
Image: 8.9 × 5.9 cm (3 1/2 × 2 5/16")
Sheet: 15.2 × 12.6 cm (6 × 4 15/16")
Mat: 35.6 × 27.9 cm (14 × 11")
United States\New York\Kings\New York
c. 1860-1870 (printed later)
On the eve of civil war, Elmer Ellsworth-who had demonstrated his mastery of militia drill and discipline as commander of the Zouave Cadets in Chicago-would be supremely tested as colonel of a new regiment, the Eleventh New York Volunteer Infantry. The majority of recruits were volunteer firemen from Manhattan, untrained in military protocol. The regiment of approximately 1,100 arrived in Washington in May 1861 with shorn heads and eighteen-inch saber bayonets dangling from their belts. Rowdy and boisterous, the "Fire Zouaves" virtually emptied the streets by their mere presence. Their antics and lack of military discipline tried the patience of city residents and authorities alike, and they were finally moved to a more remote site. In the early hours of May 24, as part of the Union advance into Virginia, Ellsworth and his recruits awaited orders to cross the Potomac into secession territory.