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First Name: Francis

Last Name: Brownell

Birthplace: New York City, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Edwin

Date of Birth: 1840

Date of Death: 15 March 1894

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served: April 20, 1861-1863
Francis Edwin Brownell

•  American Civil War (1861 - 1865)


Francis Edwin Brownell
First Lieutenant, Union Army / U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Battle of First Bull Run - American Civil War

Francis Edwin Brownell was born in 1840 in New York, NY. He was a soldier and recipient of the Medal of Honor for killing James W. Jackson after he shot Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth, colonel of the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Brownell's actions marked the first action in the American Civil War to merit the award of the Medal.

Early Days of the Civil War

Brownell enlisted as a member of the 11th New York Volunteers, the "Fire Zouaves," and was assigned to Company A. In the first days of the war, as the 11th entered Alexandria, VA, on 24 May 1861, Colonel Ellsworth and several other men went to capture the telegraph office. On the way there, one of Ellsworth's men spotted a Confederate flag atop the Marshall House Inn. Ellsworth's group entered the Inn and quickly cut down the flag, but they encountered the proprietor, James Jackson, as they descended the stairs. Jackson killed Colonel Ellsworth with a shotgun blast to the chest, and Brownell responded by fatally shooting the innkeeper. For this, he was rewarded with a commission in the Regular Army and served as an officer for the next two years, retiring in 1863 with the rank of First Lieutenant.

Post-War Life

After the war, Brownell twice was denied his request for the Medal of Honor award in recognition of his action in killing Jackson. A third attempt, with the assistance of his congressman, was granted. Brownell received the Medal of Honor in 1877, inscribed with his name and regiment. A request to have his action described on the medal meant that it was returned to the War Department and a second medal was 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."

Medal of Honor Citation:

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

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

Following the war, Brownell lived in Washington, DC, where he worked as a clerk with the Pension Office.

Death and Burial

First Lieutenant Francis Edwin Brownell died on 15 March 1894, in Washington, DC. He is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery, Saint Louis, St. Louis City, MO.

Honoree ID: 15   Created by: MHOH




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