There was a great deal of threatening all this time against the Union troops if they should dare set foot upon the "sacred soil of Old Virginia" as the Southerners called it. But for all that, the Government saw fit very early in 1861 to send troops into that very State.
The "New York Zouaves," led by Colonel Ellsworth, were the first to enter. The young colonel was handsome, and brave, and daring; and his troops, dressed in brilliant uniforms of red and yellow and blue, were the pride and delight of the army.
Ellsworth's troops entered the town of Alexandria, beyond the Potomac in Virginia, full of life and hope, and full of faith in their gay young colonel. On they marched, their colors flying, the drums beating, straight up to a hotel from whose top was seen a secession flag.
"Halt!" came the command as they reached the hotel entrance. Rushing into the building, up the stair-case, he pulled down the secession flag, and marched with it down the stairs again. But at the foot of the stairway, stood the tavern-keeper, ready to resent this insult to his flag. Bang went his gun, and young Ellsworth fell dead. Bang! went another gun, and down by Ellsworth's side dropped the tavern-keeper, shot dead by one of Ellsworth's men.
I cannot tell you what excitement the death of this young colonel caused throughout the North. Every honor was paid him; every school-boy was told of the martyred Ellsworth; little babies were named for him; little boys were dressed in Zouave suits in imitation of him, and everywhere the name of Ellsworth was a household word