Colonel Edward S. Salomon was the commander of the 82nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry which included more than 100 Jews, when the Confederate and Union armies collided and fiercely battled at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 1-3, 1863. Salomon calmly commanded and led his men in this bloody and intense battle, disregarding the Confederate cannon balls fired at them.
Confederate General George E. Pickett decided to send 15,000 men charging across an open field in a suicidal attack. Colonel Salomon and his 82nd Regiment were in the middle of the heat of the battle to repulse them. He received a commendation for bravery and leadership and he was honorably promoted to brigadier general.
Salomon was bom in Schleswig-Holstein and came to America when he was in his teens. He held down various jobs and then he decided to go to Chicago to study law. When the Civil War erupted, he helped form the 82nd Illinois Infantry Regiment. His ability to lead men was quickly recognized and he rapidly rose through the ranks.
After the Battle of Atlanta, Colonel John Cleveland Robinson recognized the feats of Colonel Salomon when he wrote: "I consider Colonel Salomon one of the most deserving officers. His regiment is deserving of high praise. In point of discipline it is second to none in the corps. Its record will bear safe comparison with any other of the same age in the army."
At the end of the Civil War, General Salomon led his men in a six-hour parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., where General Sherman bade them farewell.
Salomon returned to Chicago and he was elected to be Clerk of Cook County. In 1869, he was given a "birthday present" by President Grant when he appointed him to be the Governor of the Territory of Washington.
After his tenure as Governor, Salomon moved to California and he was elected to the legislature. He was also elected the Department Commander for California of the Grand Army of the Republic. General Salomon demonstrated through his feats and leadership in battle that Jews in America can and do serve and fight for their country when the need occurs.
This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.
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Last updated 12 May 2011