Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth, 11 Apr 1837 - 24 May 1861
c. 1860-1870 (printed later)
Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative
Image: 8.8 × 6 cm (3 7/16 × 2 3/8")
Sheet: 15.1 × 12.5 cm (5 15/16 × 4 15/16")
Mat: 35.6 × 27.9 cm (14 × 11")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Frederick Hill Meserve Collection
Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth was a promising young Union officer in the spring of 1861 as the divided nation readied for civil war. Born in Malta, New York, on April 11, 1837, Ellsworth had aspirations of becoming a professional soldier from an early age. Although his education was meager and disqualified him from attending the United States Military Academy at West Point, he carried with him his dream of a military calling as he moved to New York City and then to Chicago in pursuit of a worthy vocation. He dabbled in the reading of law while studying military science in his leisure time. He became fascinated with the French Zouaves, who recently had earned a reputation for bravery in the Crimean War, and in 1859 he seized the opportunity to become the commandant of the United States Zouave Cadets.