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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Marshall House

City of Alexandria Est. 1749

 
 
Marshall House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, March 30, 2018
1. Marshall House Marker
Inscription.  In the early morning hours of May 24, 1861, the day after a public referendum in Virginia supported secession from the United States, Alexandria was invaded by Union forces crossing the Potomac. Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth, the young commander of the 11th New York Fire Zouaves taking part in the invasion was a close confidant and friend of President Abraham Lincoln. Within minutes of arriving in the city, Ellsworth attempted to remove a secessionist flag from the rooftop flagpole of the Marshall House hostelry that once stood at this corner. As he descended the stairs after successfully removing the flag, proprietor James W. Jackson emerged from the shadows and killed Ellsworth with a gunshot to the chest at point blank range. Jackson himself was then immediately shot and bayoneted by Corporal Francis Brownell of Troy, New York, who later received the Medal of Honor for his actions as he accompanied Ellsworth on that fateful day. Thus were the first two deaths from violence, representing each side of the national conflict, during the American Civil War.

In the days and months after the altercation on King Street, both Ellsworth and
Marshall House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, March 30, 2018
2. Marshall House Marker
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Jackson became martyrs to the defense of their country on native soil. Rallying cries of "Remember Ellsworth!" and "Remember Jackson!" were used to recruit enlistments and support by Northern and Southern leaders, and the men were immortalized as heroes in popular culture and in commemorative wares of the period. In the years after their deaths, their first or last names were often chosen for newborn males throughout the country by those loyal to each man's respective cause.

Artifacts associated with this event, including architectural items from the Marshall House, a piece of the controversial flag, and the "kepi" cap Ellsworth wore that morning are on view at Alexandria's Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site, 4301 West Braddock Road. Fort Ward is the best surviving example of the system of 168 forts and batteries known as the "Defenses of Washington" that protected the nation's capital during the Civil War. Public transit to Fort Ward is available by taking a DASH bus from the King Street Metro Station.
 
Erected by City of Alexandria.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Parks & Recreational AreasWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia, The City of Alexandria series list. A significant historical date for this entry is May 24, 1861.
 
Location. 38° 48.284′ 
Marshall House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, March 30, 2018
3. Marshall House Marker
N, 77° 2.683′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of King Street and South Pitt Street, on the right when traveling east on King Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 500 King Street, Alexandria VA 22314, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Law Office of Cohen, Cohen, and Hirschkop (a few steps from this marker); Edgar Warfield (a few steps from this marker); Photos of Historic Alexandria (within shouting distance of this marker); Franklin P. Backus Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Gadsby's Tavern Museum (within shouting distance of this marker); George Washington in Alexandria (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Washington's Tenement House (about 300 feet away); Electric Railway (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
 
Marshall House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, March 30, 2018
4. Marshall House Marker
Marshall House image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
5. Marshall House
Stereograph showing a group of Union soldiers standing in the street in front of the Marshall House at the corner of King and Pitt streets, the scene of the assassination of Col. E. E. Ellsworth on May 24, 1861.
Colonel Elmer Ellsworth image. Click for full size.
Internet Archive
6. Colonel Elmer Ellsworth
From The Photographic History of the Civil War by Francis Trevelyan Miller and Robert S. Lanier, Volume 1, 1911.
Star from Marshall House Flag<br>Fort Ward Museum image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 13, 2014
7. Star from Marshall House Flag
Fort Ward Museum
Ellsworth's Kepi<br>Fort Ward Museum image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 13, 2014
8. Ellsworth's Kepi
Fort Ward Museum
The Murder of Colonel Ellsworth image. Click for full size.
Internet Archive
9. The Murder of Colonel Ellsworth
From Frank Leslie's Illustrated History of the Civil War by Frank Leslie and Louis Shepheard Moat, 1895.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 9, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 31, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 293 times since then and 64 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 31, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   5, 6, 7. submitted on October 7, 2020, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   8, 9. submitted on October 8, 2020, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Sep. 17, 2021