A Union Colonel Writes To His Parents Before A Battle.

by Daniel Russ on July 21, 2011

Union Colonel Elmer Ellsworth's Letter Home

Head Quarters, First Zouaves, Camp Lincoln:
Washington, D.C., May 23, 1861

My Dear Father and Mother—The Regiment is ordered to move across the river tonight. We have no means of knowing what reception we are to meet with. I am inclined to the opinion that our entrance to the city of Alexandria will be hotly contested, as I am just informed a large force have arrived there to-day. Should this happen, my dear parents, it may be my lot to be injured in some manner. Whatever may happen, cherish the consolation that I was engaged in the performance of a sacred duty; and tonight, thinking over the probabilities of tomorrow, and the occurrences of the past, I am perfectly content to accept whatever my fortune may be, confident that He who noteth even the fall of a sparrow will have some purpose even in the fate of one like me.
My darling and ever loved parents, good-bye. God bless, protect, and care for you.

Elmer

[Saturday Evening Post, June 8, 1861]

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Ed Garland October 16, 2013 at 8:10 am

A nice piece, but you left off mention of why his letter received widespread fame…it was his last letter home, he was notably one of the first well-known persons killed during the war…

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