Francis E. Brownell

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Francis E. Brownell
Francis E. Brownell
BornJuly 18,1840
Troy, New York
DiedMarch 15, 1894 (aged 53–54)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of serviceApril 20, 1861[1] – 1863
RankUnion army 1st lt rank insignia.jpg First Lieutenant
Unit 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsBattle of First Bull Run
AwardsMedal of Honor

Francis Edwin Brownell (July 18, 1840 – March 15, 1894) was a Union Army soldier who received a Medal of Honor for his actions during the American Civil War. Brownell received the award for killing James W. Jackson after Jackson shot Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth, colonel of the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Although Brownell did not receive the award until 1877, twelve years after the war had ended, his actions were the earliest in the war that resulted in the receipt of the award.


Francis Edwin "Frank" Brownell was born in Troy, New York to Charles Brownell and Lucy Adams, where prior to the Civil War worked as a clerk in the law office of attorney John A. Millard.[2] He enlisted as a private in the 11th New York Volunteers, the "Fire Zouaves", in April 1861, and was assigned to Company A.[2][3]

In the first days of the war, as the 11th entered Alexandria, Virginia on May 24, 1861, Ellsworth led Brownell and several other men into the heart of the city.[4][5][6] On the way there, the men spotted a large Confederate flag atop the Marshall House inn.[4][5][6][7] Ellsworth's group entered the inn and quickly cut down the flag but as they descended the stairs they encountered the proprietor, James Jackson.[5][6] Jackson killed Ellsworth with a shotgun blast to the chest and Brownell responded by fatally shooting and bayonetting the innkeeper.[4][5][6][8] For this, he was rewarded with a commission in the Regular Army. He served as an officer in the 11th Infantry Regiment (United States) for the next two years, retiring in November 1863 with the rank of first lieutenant.

After the war, Brownell requested an award of the Medal of Honor in recognition of his actions in killing Jackson but was denied. He made a second request which was also denied. A third attempt with the assistance of his congressman was granted and Brownell was awarded the Medal in 1877, inscribed with his name and regiment. A request to have his action described on the medal resulted in its being returned to the War Department and a second medal being issued. It was inscribed: "The Congress to Sergt Frank E. Brownell, 11th N.Y. Vol Inf’y for gallantry in shooting the murderer of Col. Ellsworth at Alexandria, VA, May 24, 1861."[9]

Following the war, Brownell lived in Washington, D.C. where he worked as a clerk with the Pension Office.[6] He was member of the Grand Army of the Republic and a companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.[6] He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in Saint Louis, Missouri.[6][10]

A fragment of the Marshall House flag that Brownell gave to Millard while on the way to Ellsworth's funeral near Troy remained in Millard's family for many years. The fragment was sold during the 21st century.[2]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Rank and organization: Private, Company A, 11th New York Infantry. Place and date: Alexandria, Va., May 24, 1861. Entered service at: Troy, N.Y. Birth: New York. Date of issue: January 26, 1877.

Killed the southern sympathizer who shot Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth at the Marshall House (Alexandria, Virginia)., after that state had declared its secession from the Union.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Corporal Francis E. Brownell of Company A, 11th New York Fire Zouaves". Civil War Gazette. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
  2. ^ a b c "A Fragment of the Original Confederate Flag Cut Down by Col. Elmer Ellsworth at the Marshall House, and For Which He Lost His Life: Along with a note and presentation envelope for the fragment from "Ellsworth's Avenger", Frank E. Brownell, which he gave to his mentor on the way to Ellsworth's funeral". Ardmore, Pennsylvania: The Raab Collection. 2011. Archived from the original on 2019-01-28. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  3. ^ "Corporal Francis E. Brownell of Company A, 11th New York Fire Zouaves". The Civil War Gazette. Archived from the original on 2003-09-29 – via Jabez Networks.
  4. ^ a b c (1) "The Murder of Colonel Ellsworth". Harper's Weekly. 5 (232): 357–358. 1861-06-08. Retrieved 2019-01-28 – via Internet Archive.
    (2) "The Murder of Ellsworth". Harper's Weekly. 5 (233): 369. 1861-06-15. Retrieved 2019-01-28 – via Internet Archive.
  5. ^ a b c d Snowden, W.H. (1894). Alexandria, Virginia. Some Old Historic Landmarks of Virginia and Maryland Described in a Hand-book for the Tourist Over the Washington, Alexandria and Mount Vernon Electric Railway. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company. pp. 5–9. LCCN rc01002851. OCLC 681385571. Retrieved 2019-01-29 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Death of Francis Edwin Brownell" (PDF). New York Times. 1894-03-16. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  7. ^ "Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Francis E. Brownell". Medal of Archived from the original on July 11, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
  8. ^ "Tiger! Zouave!". Marc A. Hermann and Shaun C. Grenan. Archived from the original on November 20, 2007. Retrieved December 4, 2007.
  9. ^ "Brownell's Medal of Honor". Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on 2002-10-16. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
  10. ^ "Francis Edwin Brownell". Find A Grave. 2000-11-21. Retrieved 2019-02-01.

External links[edit]