The first Union soldier killed in the Civil War did not fall in battle.

Ephraim Elmer Ellsworth of Illinois was shot by an angry hotel keeper in Alexandria, Va., on May 24, 1861, after Ellsworth tore down a Confederate flag that was flying over the hotel. He was 24.

Lincoln mourned Ellsworth, a young firend from Illinois, at a White House funeral.

The president wrote a letter to Ellsworth’s parents explaining that the two had been acquainted for two years. He told them how he had observed their son’s fine intellect, his good heart, his indomitable energy, his natural military talent and his power to command men. He also mentioned that he had never heard him utter a profane or intemperate word.

He signed it: “May God give you that consolation which is beyond all earthly power. Sincerely your friend in a common affliction — A. Lincoln

Source: Abraham Lincoln: The Writer, edited by Harold Holzer