Lt. Francis E. Brownell

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Francis Edwin Brownell

Also Known As: "Frances", "Frank"
Birthdate: (53)
Birthplace: Troy, Rensselaer, New York, United States
Death: March 15, 1894 (53)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
Place of Burial: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Charles Brownell and Lucy Brownell (Adams)
Husband of Cornelia Harrington
Father of Cora Brownell
Brother of Benjamin Harmon Brownell; William Adams Brownell; Harriet E. Brownell; Jane Ann Teed; Charles Carrol Brownell and 6 others

Occupation: '''MEDAL OF HONOR''', Civil War-Union
Managed by: Harrison Victor Baldwin
Last Updated:

About Lt. Francis E. Brownell

Francis Edwin Brownell, son of Charles Brownell and Lucy Adams, (grandson of Benjamin Brownell and Clarissa (Baldwin) Ritchie), was born in Troy, New York on July 18,1840; he served in the Civil War as a member of the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment. MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT. He died Mar. 15, 1895 in Washington, D.C. and is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery, Saint Louis, Missouri. He served with the Union Army from Apr. 20, 1861-1863. Rank: First Lieutenant. He married with CORNELIA HARRINGTON.

Battles/wars: Battle of First Bull Run

Awards: Medal of Honor

Francis Edwin Brownell (1840 – March 15, 1894) was a soldier and recipient of the Medal of Honor for killing James W. Jackson, after he shot 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 Volunteers, the Fire Zouaves, 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.[2] 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. 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.

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. 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 in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Medal of Honor citation: Place 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 southern sympathizer who shot Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth at the Marshall House Alexandria, Va., after that state had declared its secession from the Union.

  • 1850 census: Francis E. (10,b NY); in Troy NY w parents and sibs.
  • 1855 census: Frances C. (15, b NY); in Troy NY w parents and sibs.
  • 1870 census: Frank E. Brownell (29) and wife Nellie (32, b NY) with dau. Cora (10, b Missouri); in Springfield, Missouri at res. of his parents. He is retired Army officer.
  • 1890 census of Union Veterans: Lt. F.E. Brownell, Co 'A', 11th NY Infantry. Washington DC; Soldiers Home.

& Genalogical Record of the Descendants of Thomas Brownell 1619-1910, pp 232-233

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Lt. Francis E. Brownell's Timeline

July 18, 1840
Troy, Rensselaer, New York, United States
Age 19
Missouri, United States
March 15, 1894
Age 53
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
St. Louis, Missouri, United States