Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel (1829-1864)
My great great grandfather, Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel was one of the highest ranking Jewish officers in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
COLONEL MARCUS M. SPIEGEL made the ultimate sacrifice in order to preserve the United States of America and emancipate the slaves. He will never be forgotten.
Jean Powers Soman
In honor of the Sequicentennial of the Civil War and Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel
*Special thanks especially to to my husband Bill and to my, daughters, Jennifer and Jill, son-in-law Jack, and grandsons, Gabriel, Noah and Joseph for all of their love and support.
**The book, A JEWISH COLONEL IN THE CIVIL WAR, MARCUS M. SPIEGEL OF THE OHIO VOLUNTEERS, edited by Jean Powers Soman and Frank L. Byrne, (University of Nebraska Press, 1995) It is currently in print and available from Amazon. (It originally was published as: Your True Marcus, The Civil War Letters of a Jewish Colonel, edited by Frank L. Byrne and Jean Powers Soman with a Foreward by Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus. The book was published by(Kent State University Press, 1985.)
***Excerpts from Colonel Spiegel's letters in the book:
August 5th, 1862 Headquarters 67th Reg't
"My Dear Wife and Children,
...and if anything does happen to me, I am only offering a small sacrifice for my beloved country which always so generous and kind, had opened her arms to receive the downtrodden of other nations. Give my love to our dear children and to all friends... Good-by . May God protect you, is the fervent prayer of
Your true and loving husband
M.M. Spiegel "
Suffolk, 'Virginia, September 1, 1862
"My dear good wife!
...I met today a Lieutenant Biroker a Yehuday from Alzei, who shed tears when he heard my name. He and his father were great friends of my dear father. He told me that the 25th of this month is Rosh Hashonah and the 4th (of) next month is Yom Cipur. He says there is a Synagoge in Norfolk, 12 miles from here. I shall go at all events, You and the children must keep both, keep the children out of school the 25 and 26 and 3rd and 4th for my sake and let us pray to the Lord God of Israel for the deliverance of this once happy Country and the Peaceful enjoyment of our family Circle at the end of this unhappy War. God Bless you all.
Milliken's Bend, La. March 22, 1863
"My dear dear good Wife
...Thank God I can leave my children a legacy which will inspire them to hold up their heads and walk uprightly through the world and that is "a reputation as a Soldier and Patriot". I have always
done my duty and if God spares my health I always will and know my love you will feel satisfied with me...
Ever your true and loving,
In the field near Big Black Miss. June 7, 1863
"My dear dear wife!
It is nearly one year since I was called upon to witness the fourth birth of our beloved and blooming offspring. Well do i remember your sufferings, as if it were but a moment ago, do I remember the heroic and womanly like demeanor and the loving and confiding looks I received from you during all your labor and the joy we both felt when the lovely and Pretty, Hattie was presented by my dear mother, who at once pronounced her"the prettiest child that she has ever seen.
Allow me to congratulate you on her first "birth day", May God our heavenly Father grant that we may live to see many many of them in peace, love and happiness. May it please God to give us many happy days with our Children, so that we may raise them an ornament to Him and an emulation to His teachings.
I would love to be with you to night. I know and feel you are just now thinking of me, but we will have to wait awhile trusting that Vicksburg will soon fall.
With hearty prayers for your welfare and that of our beloved Children, I remain to the best and loveliest Wife in the world
A true and loving husband
You dont know how much I love you"
Plaquemine La Jan. 22, 1864
"My dear wife, my sweet Cary!
...Since I am here I have learned and seen more of what the horrors of Slavery was than I ever knew before and I am glad indeed that the signs of the times show, towards closing out the accursed institution... I am (in) favor of doing away with the institution of Slavery..."
Plaquemine La February 12, 1864
"My dear good and kind Cary!
...Slavery is gone up whether the War ends to day or in a year and there is no use crying over it. It has been an awful institution. I will send you the "black code" of Louisiana some of these days and I am satisfied it will make you shudder... Now understand me when I say I am a strong abolitionist, I mean that I am not so for party purposes but for humanity sake only, out of my own conviction, for the best interest of the white man in the south and the black man anywheres...
Ever your true
**** Excerpts from Book Reviews
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
" Marcus Spiegel, a German-Jewish immigrant of 1849, found in the United States the freedom and opportunity that he could not have hoped for in the old country. He was mightily grateful and sprang to the defense of the Union when the Civil War broke out... his letters, as presented in this collection, make a wonderfully vivid and detailed picture of military life... the editors have provided extensive and very useful notes and have not tampered with the idiosyncratic spelling that arose from Spiegel's lingering German accent. One virtually hears, the Colonel's voice. One also comes to see this proud, enthusiastic, not impractical idealist as a friend, whose death, when his luck finally runs out, causes real grief."
JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN HISTORY
"There were only a handful of Jewish officers in either army...An extraordinary view not only of the battles but of the greater American political, cultural and social milieu as a recently arrived outsider saw it...Well organized, skillfully annotated and an eloquent delight to read, this fine book adds a long needed and fresh dimension to both Jewish and Civil War scholarship."
*****Jean Powers Soman recently served as the Interim Chairperson (Acting President) of the National, Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission Foundation and on its Academic Advisory Board. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of its successor organization, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation.
Information about another famous ancestor of Jean Powers Soman
This photograph of Abraham Lincoln was taken by Samuel G. Alschuler in Urbana, Illinois on April 25, 1858. Samuel G. Alschuler, a German-Jewish immigrant, was the great grandfather of Jean Powers Soman. He was a photographer in Illinois, who took two famous photographs of Abraham Lincoln. In the photo below, Alschuler lent Lincoln his velvet collared coat to wear in the photograph. Alschuler also took the first photograph of President -Elect Lincoln growing a beard. ( Chicago, Nov., 1860)