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John Solomon born on October 29, 1843 in Liverpool, England. John Soloman was born John Solomon Thompson and was the youngest of three brothers; Henry and Phineas Soloman. After the family migrated to the United States they were heavily involved in the cigar manufacturing industry and at 18 years of age and single, he worked beside his brothers in the family cigar manufacturing business. It was at that time, on June 14, 1861 that John in Massachusetts enlisted as a private into Company K, 10th Massachusetts Infantry; the same company as his brother Henry. The 10th Massachusetts was originally recruited in western Massachusetts and upon attaining a full compliment, was shipped to Washington on July 28, 1861; where it remained until the army was ordered to the Peninsula in March 1862. John got into some kind of difficulties in the regiment, possibly a soldiers quarrel, and on January 30, 1862 was fined $5 by a regimental court martial.

In actions at Fair Oaks, or Seven Pines as it is better known, in May 1862 under the command of Colonel Briggs, the 10th distinguished itself; though the Colonel was wounded and casualties amounted to 27 killed, 95 wounded and 2 reported as missing. Major Orzo Miller replaced Briggs but fell mortally wounded himself soon after the Battle of Malvern Hill in July 1862. March 1863 again found John in difficulties within the regiment and before another court martial he was fined a sum of $6.50. Then, Major Miller was replaced with by Colonel Eustis and was in command when they were engaged at the “Second Fredericksburg” on May 3, 1863 and at Salem Heights on May 3 & 4th 1863; resulting in the loss of 10 killed, 57 wounded and 2 more reported missing. The Brigade had previously transferred to Newton’s 3rd Division, 6th Corps and in May 1864 it moved out under the command of General Eustis as the Fourth Brigade of Getty’s 2nd Division, 6th Corps.

Under the command of Colonel Parsons, the regiment participated in the battles of Grants campaigns, and in the Battle of the Wilderness, on May 5th & 6th 1864 where the regiment lost 21 men killed, 105 men wounded and another 2 reported missing; losses amounting to one-third of its compliment. In action at Spotsylvania on May 8th & 9th 1864 the regiment lost another 15 killed, 64 wounded and 13 were reported missing or captured. It was at Spotsylvania that Major Dexter F. Parker of the 10th was mortally wounded and it turned out to be the deadliest of any encounter the 10th were engaged in. John was never promoted during his enlistment, remaining a private throughout, receiving severe wounds to his foot during the heated Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia in May 1864. John was mustered out of service on July 1, 1864 upon the expiration of his enlistment period. 

John, after the conclusion of the war,  returned to Westfield, Massachusetts where the Solomon’s in America were all living. He remained there about three years, before joining his brother Joseph, who had already migrated to Melbourne, Victoria in Australia. In Melbourne Joseph had already distinguished himself as a skilled book-maker and entrepreneur and John went on to distinguish himself with the formable use of his hands, in fighting; which is likely his reasons for having fines levied against him in his regiment. In any case, a well publicized, bare-fisted and highly illegal match was organized in which John was billed as “American Jack Thompson” against a professional heavyweight fighter named James M. Christie; and they fought it out. After 9 or 10 brutal rounds and a lot of punishment being dished out to Christie, John was declared the winner.

In 1874 John Solomon met and married Rachael Jones in Melbourne, where they set up home and had four children; Amelia was born in 1875, followed by the birth of Phineas in 1876, then Rachel was born in 1878, followed by Rose in 1880. In 1883, when Joseph returned to England, John moved with his family to Sydney, New South Wales and within time, most of the Westfield family members joined them there. John, remembering his years in cigar making, returned to the business of making cigars again and lived in Moore Park, a Sydney suburb; his father and mother, Samuel and Jessie Solomon Thompson lived nearby, having moved to Australia after the arrival of John.

John Solomon Thompson died suddenly on April 13, 1890, leaving a wealthy estate of some 1000 pounds in a Life Insurance policy, a substantial amount of shares in the Carrington Running Grounds and Warwick Farm Racing Club and some 4000 pounds in the Bank of New South Wales.

In his funeral procession there was said to be no less than one-hundred and seven vehicles, occupying over a full mile of roadway. Out of respect, every public house and most business closed to honor what they considered their hero being brought home, while every city street and corner was packed with throngs of well wishers.

John Solomon Thompson was laid to rest in the family vault, at Waverley Cemetery in Sydney.

 

Birth Records, Liverpool, England

Massachusetts Historical Society

“Massachusetts Rosters, Company K, 10th Massachusetts Infantry”

Massachusetts State Archives

Massachusetts Regimental Histories

New South Wales Death Records

Royal Australian Historical Society Archives

Sons of Union Veterans

Waverley Cemetery Records

 

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