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Francis E. Brownell
[[Image:File:FrancisBrownell.jpg|center|200px|border]]Francis E. Brownell
Personal Information
Born: 1840
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: March 15, 1894 (aged 53–54)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: First Lieutenant
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit: 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Battles: Battle of First Bull Run
Awards: Medal of Honor
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Francis Edwin Brownell (1840 – March 15, 1894) was a soldier and recipient of the Medal of Honor for killing James W. Jackson, murderer of Col. 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.


Brownell enlisted as a member of the 11th New York and was assigned to Company A. In the first days of the war, as the 11th entered Alexandria, Virginia on May 24, 1861, Ellsworth took him and several other men to capture the telegraph office. On the way there, one of Ellsworth's men spotted a Confederate flag atop the Marshall House inn.[1] 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 Ellsworth with a shotgun blast to the chest, and Brownell responded in kind by fatally shooting the innkeeper.[2]

After the war, Brownell twice was denied his request for the award in recognition of his actions in killing Jackson. A third attempt with the assistance of his congressman was granted. Brownell finally was award the Medal of Honor in 1877, inscribed with his name and regiment. A request to have his action described on the medal meant 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.”[2]

Following the war, Brownell lived in Washington, D.C. where he worked as a clerk with the Pension Office. He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, Saint Louis, Missouri.[3]

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, N.Y. Birth: New York. Date of issue: January 26, 1877.

Killed the murderer of Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth at the Marshall House Alexandria, Va.

See also[]

  • List of Medal of Honor recipients
  • List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: A–F


  1. "Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Sgt. Francis E. Brownell". Medal of Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Tiger! Zouave!". Marc A. Hermann and Shaun C. Grenan. Retrieved December 4, 2007.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "secession" defined multiple times with different content
  3. "Death of Francis Edwin Brownell" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-05.