Born on February 24, 1827 (sometimes incorrectly reported as February 27), Langdon spent his youth on his family's farm near Linwood, Ohio. Langdon's father, Reverend Oliver Langdon, died in September 1828.
By the end of the American Civil War, Ohioan Elisha Bassett Langdon had attained the rank of brevet brigadier-general in the Union Army.
Born on February 24, 1827 (sometimes incorrectly reported as February 27), Langdon spent his youth on his family's farm near Linwood, Ohio. Langdon's father, Reverend Oliver Langdon, died in September 1828. Elisha Langdon attended local schools before enrolling in Woodward College in Cincinnati, Ohio. He remained at this institution for three years and then transferred to Miami University. He attended Miami University for two years but left before graduating to assist his mother with the family farm.
At twenty-five years of age, Langdon won election to the Ohio House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic Party. He served three terms before winning election to the Ohio Senate. While serving in political office, Langdon also studied the law, passing the Ohio bar exam in the 1850s.
With the Civil War's outbreak, Langdon immediately volunteered for duty with the Union Army. In a December 1861 letter to his mother, Langdon summarized his reasons for fighting:
But the realities of war are around me, and I am not insensible to its dangers, and have thought over the whole subject again and again. If I felt sure that death would be the only portion I should reap from this war, I should not the less be satisfied, and even glad that I had taken up arms in defense of my country in the hour of her extreme need. I could not feel that I had performed my duty to that country, which, in peaceful times, has honored and trusted me, not to the parents who gave me birth—to you who live now, not to those who are to come after all of us shall have passed the dread trial that comes but once, but must come to all, if I had done otherwise than I have in this matter.
He was commissioned as a major with the First Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. On June 2, 1862, Langdon attained the rank of lieutenant colonel with the First Regiment. He fought in the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee and participated in the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi. Following the Union's capture of Corinth, Langdon joined General A.M. McCook's staff as inspector general, remaining in this position for the remainder of 1862 through January 1863, when he rejoined the First Regiment.
During 1863, Langdon fought in the Battles of Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and Lookout Mountain. At Missionary Ridge, Confederate forces wounded Langdon. He led his men throughout the battle before seeking treatment. His bravery in these battles prompted military authorities to promote him to the rank of brevet brigadier-general on March 13, 1865. He mustered out with his regiment upon the war's conclusion.
Following the American Civil War, Langdon returned to Ohio, where he received an appointment as Assessor of Internal Revenue in the First District of Ohio. Living in Cincinnati, Ohio, he held this position until his death on May 30, 1867. Langdon died from complications from the wound that he received at the Battle of Missionary Ridge. He was buried in Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery.