Washington, DC Willard's Hotel Fire, May 1861

Harper's Drawing Of The Blaze



Col. ELLSWORTH'S Fire Zouaves of New York, now at Washington, are undoubtedly all that they have been represented to be, perfect devils in their actions, and yet like a horse with the devil in him, everybody rather likes them after all. According to the special despatch to the N. Y. Tribune, dated Washington, May 9th, they were chiefly instrumental in putting out a fire which threatened Willard's Hotel in Washington, and which would have been very disastrous in its consequences. The fire was in a liquor store next door but one to Willard's, on the morning of the 9th. It seemed as though it would be impossible to extinguish it. But ten men from each company in the Fire Zouave regiment, ran down the Avenue, headed by ELLSWORTH. They found the engine house where they ran barricaded, but stove it in.
Here they were joined by several hundred of their companions who would not brook the idea of confinement or idle slumber while their enemy was in the field.
With trumpet in hand, they came and accomplished wonders, some of which were frightful to behold, such as this: Two of them held each a leg of the third, they standing on the roof enveloped in flames, while he, head downward, was suspended over the burning building until he, succeeded in reaching a hose-pipe, which was extended from the end of a short ladder.
Col. ELLSWORTH seized the trumpet from a fireman, who remonstrated, insisting on his right to command. "Well," said the Colonel, "if you have more men here than I have, you can take it."
After two hours hard and perfect work, they subdued the fire, confining it to its original building, and the one next to it.
In complete order they were marshalled, when Col. ELLSWORTH led them up the hill, where Gen. MANSFIELD, bare-headed, addressed them, thanking them and praising them, and repeating several times, "I am proud of you, very proud of you."
After a short congratulatory speech from Col. ELLSWORTH, and accepting an invitation from MR. WILLARD to break fast, they gave three immense cheers, sang "Dixie," and contentedly marched to their quarters in perfect order.

Janesville Daily Gazette Wisconsin 1861-05-15