The Graduate Center - City University of New York

Marshall House, Alexandria, Virginia

The significance of Alexander Gardner's photograph of the Marshall House, an inn in Alexandria, Virginia, is at first not apparent. The event that occurred there on May 24, 1861, however, carried symbolic meaning for many supporters of the Union. The day after Virginia seceded, the inn's owner James W. Jackson, an ardent secessionist, raised the Confederate flag atop the roof of the building. Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth, who led the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment (the Fire Zouaves) removed the flag and was shot and killed by Jackson as he descended the stairs of the inn (Jackson was immediately killed by Ellsworth's corporal). Ellsworth, a friend of Abraham Lincoln, quickly became celebrated as the first man to die in the war, and during its first year his name and face became famous as a martyr to the Union cause.

Creator: Alexander Gardner

Date: August 1862

Publisher: Alexander Gardner, Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War (Washington, D.C.: Philp & Solomons, c.1866)

Source: Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress