Pvt. T. Bailey Brown

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Thornsberry Bailey Brown

Also Known As: "Thornberry", "Thornsbury", "Thornbury"
Birthplace: Newburg, Virginia
Death: May 20, 1861 (32)
Fetterman Bridge, Taylor, Virginia (Killed in action, U.S. Civil War)
Place of Burial: Grafton, Taylor, West Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of George Ashe Brown and Sarah F Brown (Bartlett)
Husband of Nancy Ann Miller
Father of Mary Ellen Malone; Margaret Virginia Malone; George French Brown; Robert K. Brown; Jacob Harvey Brown and 2 others
Brother of Thomas B. Brown; Benjamin B. Brown; Nancy Ann Wolverton; John B. Brown; Elizbeth Shay and 3 others
Half brother of Thomas (Thornberry) Bailey Brown

Occupation: Pvt., Grafton Guards
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Pvt. T. Bailey Brown

May 21, 2011, 150 years ago

Sunday, Grafton Union private became 1st Killed in Action by a Confederate soldier

The old Northwestern Turnpike once crossed the Tygart Valley River atop this stone bridge pier on the outskirts of Grafton. On the shore opposite this scene, 150 years ago, Pvt. T. Bailey Brown became the Civil War's first Union soldier to die at the hands of a Confederate soldier. (see photo on media page of this profile)

By Rick Steelhammer, The Charleston Gazette

GRAFTON, W.Va. -- Elmer E. Ellsworth, a Union Army colonel and a personal friend of President Abraham Lincoln, was lionized as the North's first Civil War martyr after he removed a Confederate flag from the Marshall House hotel in Alexandria, Va., on May 24, 1861, and was promptly shot to death.

The flag could be seen from the White House, just across the Potomac River from Alexandria, and had been a steady source of irritation for Union loyalists since Virginia entered an alliance with the Confederate States of America several weeks earlier.

Although Ellsworth's death was dramatic and well publicized, he was not the first Union soldier to die in combat during the Civil War. Two days before the colonel's life came to an end in an Alexandria stairwell, a Taylor County private in the Grafton Guards fired on a small group of Confederate pickets at a roadblock on the outskirts of Grafton, and was gunned down by them.

While the dead colonel's body lay in state in the White House and cries of "Remember Ellsworth!" quickly became a Northern recruiting slogan, the body of Pvt. Thornsberry Bailey Brown was available for viewing for several hours in the lobby of the Grafton Hotel. Then, fellow members of the recently formed Grafton Guards departed for Wheeling, where on May 25, they were officially mustered into the Union Army.

Unlike Ellsworth, who was killed by a civilian, Brown was shot to death by a private in the Letcher Guards, a Confederate militia unit formed in the Grafton area and named in honor of secession-boosting Virginia Gov. John Letcher.

"There's an online exhibit by the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery about Ellsworth, in which he's described as the first Union martyr," said Civil War author and historian Hunter Lesser of Elkins. "That's really unfair.

"Brown may not have been a friend of the president and he wasn't capturing a flag when he was killed, but his story is just as good as Ellsworth's, and he died earlier."

Several other Union soldiers died before Brown, but not by Confederate fire. At the Fort Sumter surrender ceremony, on April 14, 1861, Union Private Daniel Hough was killed and Private Edward Galloway was mortally wounded when a Union cannon or shells near the cannon accidentally exploded while the Union garrison was giving a cannon fire salute to the American flag. These deaths were accidents, however, and were not due to enemy fire.


Thornberry Bailey Brown (1829 - 1861) Born in Newburg, Virginia, on 13 May 1829. Thornberry Bailey married Nancy Anna Miller and had 7 children. He passed away on 20 May 1861 in Grafton, Virginia, USA.

Thornberry Bailey's Family Members Parents Unknown

Spouse: Nancy Anna Miller (1827-1869)


  • Mary Ellen Brown
  • Margaret V Malone
  • George F Brown
  • Robert K Brown
  • Jacob H Brown
  • Bail Franklin Brown
  • Benjamin F Brown

Links to additional information:

William Brown -- William Brown II -- William Brown III -- Thomas Brown Revolutionary War -- George Brown -- Two of George Brown sons were killed in Civil War.. Thornsberry Bailey Brown and John B. Brown.

view all 11

Pvt. T. Bailey Brown's Timeline

May 13, 1829
Newburg, Virginia
Age 21
West Virginia, United States
April 3, 1854
Age 24
Independence, Preston Co., Virginia (WV after 1863), United States
April 24, 1856
Age 26
Independence, Grayson, Virginia, United States
July 24, 1858
Age 29
Age 30
May 20, 1861
Age 32
Taylor, Virginia
November 2, 1861
Age 32