b. 1840 Troy, New York. d. 15/03/1894 Washington DC.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 24/05/1861 Alexandra, Virginia.
Brownell enlisted as a member of the 11th New York Volunteers, the “Fire Zouaves,” in April 1861, 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. 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 in the 11th Infantry Regiment (United States) for the next two years, retiring in November 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 on 26 January 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 was a companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
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.
BURIAL LOCATION: BELLEFONTAINE CEMETERY, ST LOUIS, MISSOURI.
BLOCK 40, LOT 2316
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, WASHINGTON DC.