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Henry Solomon was born on February 21, 1841 in London, England. The entire Soloman family followed many other Soloman’s in their migration to the United States from England, establishing themselves largely in the state of New York. One of three brothers involved in the American Civil War, Henry Soloman “Thompson” the middle brother, was engaged in his families cigar making business in New York when he enlisted  in the Union Army and Company K, 10th Massachusetts Infantry on June 14, 1861 at Springfield, Massachusetts. He enlisted as a private, but was soon promoted to the rank of Sergeant.  There were quite a few Solomon’s in the cigar business in New York at that time; some were related, while some were not, but entered into business together because they bore the same name and were in the same business.  In 1860 there were approximately 1,100 cigar factories in Manhattan, New York and another 408 in Brooklyn, New York. In the 1860 city directory H. & W. Solomon appears under the listing “segars”, Henry and Walter Solomon, and were shown doing business at 209 E. Houston; with Henry living at 335 Bowery Street. Joseph Solomon his brother was also in the cigar business, living at 338 Eighth Street.   In late 1861, however, Henry and Walter are no longer listed in business together as Henry had enlisted in the military by early June; nor is Joseph in the cigar business any longer.

 

The 10th Mass. Volunteer Infantry Regiment traces its origin to November 14, 1639, when the Springfield Train Band was mustered into service to defend Western Massachusetts from attacks by Indians. On April 24, 1840, the Light Regiments of Berkshire and Hampden Counties were reorganized into the 10th Regiment of Light Infantry, the immediate predecessor of the 10th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The 10th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was composed of companies from the Connecticut Valley and the Western part of the state. Five of those companies were in existence before the Civil War broke out, and five were recruited in May and June, 1861. The regiment rendezvoused at Hampden Park, Springfield, Massachusetts and Henry S. Briggs, a Pittsfield officer who had commanded a company in the 8th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia was made its colonel.

 

The regiment was mustered into service on June 21, 1861. On July 10th it was reviewed by Governor Andrew and on the 15th received its colors; presented to it by the ladies of Springfield, Massachusetts. On July 16th it left for Medford, Massachusetts where it remained at Camp Adams until the 25th, when it departed for Boston by train and took the ships “Spaulding” and “Ben De Ford” for Washington, D.C.; docking at the Navy Yard and the Arsenal, respectively. It made its way to Washington from July 25th through the 28th and upon arrival was attached to Couch’s Brigade, Division of the Potomac until October 1861. In October it was attached to Couch’s Brigade, Buell’s (Keyes’) Division, Army of the Potomac till March 1862, then to the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac to September 1862; during which time Henry received his medical discharge.

 

The regiment saw duty at Kalorama Heights and Camp Brightwood in the Defenses of Washington, D.C. until March 1862, when it marched to Prospect Hill, Virginia from March 11th through the 15th. It left from Alexandria for the Peninsula on March 25th and participated in the Siege of Yorktown on April 5th through May 4th and the Battle of Fair Oaks, also known as the Battle of Seven Pines, from May 31st through June 1st. The 10th Massachusetts though present at the beginning of the Peninsula Campaign, was not mentioned in many reports by name. One occasion where they were mentioned, however, was in a report found in the Official Records of the War Rebellion by Brigadier-General Charles Devons, Jr., commanding the 3rd Brigade of the U.S. Army. In it he stated;

 

“SIR: I have the honor to report in reference to the affair near Williamsburg that the portion of this brigade with me [Second Rhode Island, Seventh and Tenth Massachusetts] was ordered to leave its camp beyond Lee's Mill on May 5, and followed the line of march of General Peck's brigade.

At about a mile below the Brick Church the battery of artillery attached to the brigade could not be moved, and the road was in such condition and so blocked by teams that it was impossible to move the infantry past them. An order was also received there that the ammunition wagons and ambulances of the divisions of General Hooker and Kearny should have the first claim to the road. --- The Tenth Massachusetts had been sent necessarily to another position, but the Second Rhode Island, Colonel Wheaton, was sent forward”.

 

Henry was present with his regiment the entire time, seeing considerable action, until he received a disability discharge; suffering from “rheumatism and phthisis pulmonalis”, or tuberculosis, from the Cliffburne Hospital in Washington D.C. on August 20, 1862. The Cliffbourne & Cliffbourne Barracks Hospital was located at depot Camp for the Veteran Reserve Corps; on 15th Street Road on Meridian Hill.

Upon his release, Henry eventually joined his brothers, John and Joseph, in 1876, who were already in Australia. Upon his arrival he became employed as a “Turf Commission Agent” for the horse racing industry. John later relocated to Sydney while Joseph went back to England. Henry though, remained in Melbourne, Australia and on March 23, 1878, married Mary Marie Taylor.

 

With Henry’s health failing by 1888, his brother John repeatedly tried unsuccessfully to have him awarded a military pension. Henry was examined by Dr. Wilmot in Melbourne and was determined to be suffering from “paralysis of the brain”; still having two children to support, Henry was eventually admitted to the Kew Lunatic Asylum on June 16, 188 at the age of 48. He was assigned as a patient to Unit P1 – 10. Kew was one of the largest asylums ever built and conveyed the great optimism of the Victorian colony in Australia after the Gold Rush. William Beattie Smith was a Medical Practitioner and the Medical Superintendent at the Kew Lunatic Asylum. It was known as a "barracks" style building, with two large wings, one for women, the other for men, and had neat rows of beds in each ward. Mealtimes, toilet access and social activities followed a regular schedule in order to create an environment of normality.

 

Unfortunately the Kew Asylum never lived up to its high expectations. Few patients were ever cured and released back into the community and inadequate government funding encouraged a great mistreatment of patients; resulting in Kew being subjected to repeated public criticisms, leading to a Royal Commission inquiry in 1886. For the first half of the century conditions and morale at Kew were considered very low.

 Henry Soloman died at the Kew Lunatic Asylum on October 5, 1890; from “softening of the brain” and buried in its cemetery.

 

In 1985 at a dedication ceremony to place a bronze marker on his unmarked grave, obtained from the American Veterans Administration in Washington DC, some 80 people were in attendance, including members from the U.S. Consul, the Jewish Veterans Association, the American Legion, the American Civil War Round Table of Australia and many descendants.

 

American Legion of Australia

“Berkshire Courier” newspaper, June, 1862

Birth, Marriage and Death Records, New South Wales

Jenny Fawcett, Kew Asylum Museum, Victoria

Jewish Veterans Association

Kew Lunatic Asylum Records

“Massachusetts in the Rebellion”, P. C. Headley, 1866

New South Wales Archives

New York City Directories, 1860, 1861

“Northampton Gazette & Courier”, newspaper, Washington, D.C.,  February 11, 1862

Regimental Histories, 10th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment

Report of the Adjutant General, Massachusetts

“War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and

Confederate Armies”, Government Printing Office, Series I, 1880 – 1901

 

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