Arnold Elzey was born in Maryland in 1816. He served in the Seminole War and the Mexican War and in 1861 had reached the rank of captain and commanded the US arsenal at Augusta, Georgia. The Confederate Army forced Elzey to surrender the arsenal on the outbreak of the American Civil War.
Elzey moved to Richmond where he joined Confederacy. Commissioned as a lieutenant colonel, Elzey fought at Bull Run (July, 1861). After succeeding Edmund Kirby Smith as colonel of the 1st Maryland, he fought under Thomas Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley.
In June, 1862, Elzey suffered a seriously head wound at Gaines Mill and was forced to retire from active duty. He returned to Richmond where he organized government clerks into the Local Defence Brigade. After the war Elzey lived on his farm in Maryland. Arnold Elzey died in 1871.