Friedrich (Fred) Salomon (1826–1897)
Friedrich Salomon was a German immigrant who became a Union general during the Civil War, playing a prominent role in several battles in Arkansas.
Friedrich (or Fred) Salomon was born on April 7, 1826, in Strobeck in the Harz district of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. He was the son of Christoph Salomon—a veteran of the Napoleonic wars—and Dorothea Klussman Salomon. He was trained as a civil engineer and architect and was serving as a lieutenant of artillery when revolutions in Germany led him and his family to immigrate to the United States, settling in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1848. Salomon became a surveyor and registrar of deeds and worked as an engineer in siting the Manitowoc & Wisconsin Railroad.
He married Mathilde Ebel in 1853, and they had six children. She died in 1867, and he married her sister, Henrietta K. L. Ebel, two years later.
When the Civil War began in 1861, Salomon was in St. Louis, Missouri, and he enlisted in the Fifth Missouri Infantry Regiment, a three-month unit of which his brother Charles was colonel; Salomon was elected captain of his company. (In The War of the Rebellion, the collection of official reports of the Civil War, his name is regularly anglicized as Frederick.) The Fifth Missouri fought at Carthage and Dug Springs, Missouri, and at Wilson’s Creek, where the Fifth brigaded with the Third Missouri Infantry, suffering a combined thirty-five killed, 132 wounded, and 126 missing.
In late 1861, Wisconsin governor Louis P. Harvey (Salomon’s brother Edward would become governor upon Governor Harvey’s death in 1862) authorized Salomon to raise a regiment of German immigrants; he recruited the Ninth Wisconsin Infantry Regiment and was appointed its colonel. The Ninth went to Leavenworth, Kansas, in January 1862 before participating in an expedition into the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). When the expedition’s leader, Colonel William Wier, went on a drunken bender, Salomon deemed him incompetent, arrested him, and led the Federal column to Fort Scott, Kansas, himself.
Salomon was promoted to brigadier general in July 1862 and took command of a brigade in James G. Blunt’s division in the Army of the Frontier; his brother Charles became colonel of the Ninth Wisconsin. Salomon’s troops fought at Newtonia, Missouri, and in Arkansas at Cane Hill (Washington County) and Prairie Grove (Washington County). After leaving the Army of the Frontier on sick leave, he was reassigned to Helena (Phillips County), where he led a brigade on the Yazoo Pass Expedition into Mississippi.
Returning to Helena, Salomon supervised construction of a series of hilltop batteries and a large earthwork dubbed Fort Curtis to defend the Union base on the Mississippi River. He commanded the Federal troop movements when Confederates under Lieutenant General Theophilus Holmes attacked on July 4, 1863, and his use of interior lines to maneuver his men where they were needed the most contributed to the Union victory.
Salomon was on sick leave during the 1863 Little Rock Campaign but rejoined the army in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in late September, taking command of the Third Division of the Seventh Army Corps. He led the division during the 1864 Camden Expedition and commanded the rear guard as it defended the retreat of Major General Frederick Steele’s Union army across the Saline River in the April 30 Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry. He received a brevet promotion to major general on March 13, 1865, before mustering out of service on August 25.
Following the war, Salomon was named surveyor general of Missouri. President Benjamin Harrison appointed him to be surveyor general of Utah Territory, and he held that position through the James Garfield and Chester Arthur administrations. He died on March 8, 1897, after a lengthy illness and is buried in Salt Lake City’s Mount Olivet Cemetery.
For additional information:
Christ, Mark K. Civil War Arkansas 1863: The Battle for a State. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010.
Christ, Mark K., ed. “This Day We Marched Again”: A Union Soldier’s Account of War in Arkansas and the Trans-Mississippi. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2014.
“Death of Gen. Fred Salomon.” [Milwaukee] Weekly Wisconsin, March 13, 1897, p. 1.
“Frederich [sic] Salomon.” Find-A-Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5896777/frederich-salomon (accessed May 5, 2022).
“Gen. Salomon Dead.” Argyle [Wisconsin] Atlas, March 19, 1897, p. 4.
“General Solomon Dies.” [Decatur, Illinois] Herald and Review, March 10, 1897, p. 8.
“Personal.” National Tribune [Washington DC], April 1, 1897, p. 4.
Piston, William Garrett, and Richard W. Hatcher III. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.
Quiner, E. B. Military History of Wisconsin. Chicago: Clark & Co., 1866.
Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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