Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth
1837 - 1861

Although Elmer Ellsworth could not afford to attend West Point, he eagerly aspired to a military career. While a young lawyer in Chicago, he led a volunteer military company, the National Guard Cadets, whose elaborate drills and bright Zouave uniforms attracted large crowds. In 1860 Ellsworth became an officer in the Illinois National Guard and also entered the Springfield law office of Abraham Lincoln. In 1861 he followed Lincoln to Washington; when war broke out, he organized a new Zouave company, which joined the Union troops that occupied Alexandria. On May 24, 1861, Ellsworth tore a Confederate flag from the roof of an Alexandria hotel and was shot down by the hotel's proprietor, who was in turn killed by one of Ellsworth's men. The incident brought Ellsworth enormous fame. His story was published everywhere; relic-hunters virtually destroyed the Alexandria tavern. Once Ellsworth was transformed from a dashing young soldier to a celebrated martyr, his portraits acquired sudden value. Because Ellsworth had posed for Brady on several occasions, Brady and Anthony had many original negatives with which to meet the demand for Ellsworth cartes de visite.

Albumen silver print (carte de visite), 1861
8.6 x 5.4 cm (3 3/8 x 2 3/16 inches)
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.