Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth was born in Malta, New York back in 1837. He grew up in Mechanicville, New York before moving to New York City. In 1854 he moved to Rockford, Illinois working for a patent company. In 1880, he moved to Springfield, Illinois to work with Abraham Lincoln, where Lincoln helped him in his law studies.
He assisted in the Lincoln campaign for president and accompanied him to Washington, D.C. Standing only 5’6” tall Lincoln referred to him as “the greatest little man I ever met”. In 1857, he joined the local militia company the “Rockford Greys” as a drillmaster. He moved again to Chicago, Illinois were the was promoted to the rank of Colonel in charge of Chicago’s Nation Guard Cadets. After the fall of Fort Sumter in 1861 he joining the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment commissioned as the regiment’s commanding officer. Crossing the Potomac River, he observed a Confederate flag at the Marshall House. Once he got to the house he went to the roof with Private Francis E. Brownell. They cut the flag down and was headed out when the owner of the Marshall House James W. Jackson came from behind a door and shot him with a double barrel shotgun, making Elmer the first Union officer to die in the American Civil War.
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