The First To Die
|Despite the days of bombing at Fort Sumter, no one was killed.
Some date the first Union death of the Civil War to May 22, 1861 at Grafton, West Virginia. Here Thornsberry Brown, of the Grafton Guards, was killed by Daniel Knight in a gun fight. The claim is disputed as nothing more than a pre-war family feud, as Brown had stolen bees from Knight, and Knight had sworn vengeance. Brown was not uniformed at the time nor the "Grafton Guards" recognized. Brown had been out drinking with friends, and when challenged by sentry Knight on the highway at nine in the evening, pulled his pistol and shot Knight's ear off. Knight returned buck and ball from his musket, hitting Brown in the chest.
|Knight claimed he "halted Brown two or three times, but he didn't stop and came up and shot me through the ear, and it made me so mad I shot him. I hope I didn't do anything wrong, Colonel." His colonel told him that he done wrong in not shooting sooner!|
|This gun fight is typical of the family feuds that would continue throughout the mountains of western Virginia during the war. Others date the first deaths to April 19, 1861 during the Baltimore Massacre when during street riots the 6th Massachusetts fired into the Maryland Guard, which responded with stones, sticks, clubs, knives, and a few pistols to kill 4 of them.|
|Another claim to "First Killed" is the shooting of Colonel Ellsworth. Col. Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth, was the leader of the Fire Zouves, a popular traveling drill team. The "Fire Zouves" had the nickname as former fireman and for "assisting firemen" in house fires. Before public fire departments, private firemen strong armed property owners and rival gangs of "firemen" for protection money.
On May 24, 1861, Col. Ellsworth entered the Marshall House in Alexandria, Virginia, to remove a Confederate Flag displayed from the rooftop and visable to the U.S Capitol. Col. Ellsworth removed the rebel flag displayed from the rooftop, and was returning down the stairway to the third floor. With Ellsworth was Corporal Brownell, and behind him was Edward House, a reporter for the New York Tribune. James Jackson, the innkeeper, was waiting with a double-barrel shotgun. As Jackson fired and hit Ellsworth in the chest, Corporal Brownell batted the shotgun, and Jackson fired a second shot at him, missing. At the same time as Jackson's second shot, Brownell fired, hitting Jackson. As Jackson lay dead, Brownell bayoneted his body.
|The exchange of gunfire on June 1 at Fairfax, 6 miles from Phillippi, West Virginia, was between sentries of the Greenbrier Cavalry and a scouting party of the 2nd U.S.Cavalry, uniformed soldiers on both sides. The Greenbrier Cavalry fought dismounted with rifles for gun fighting, and not on horse back with sabers as the yankee cavalry did. One U.S soldier was blown out of the saddle dead by Calvin Renick, and was the first U.S. soldier killed in the war. These skirmishes led to the battle on June 3, at Philippi, the first land battle of the Civil War.|