A Story of Ultimate Sacrifice
Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel (1829-1864) 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. Jean Powers Soman, his great-great granddaughter, an author and editor, spent more than a decade researching his life and transcribing the voluminous letters that he wrote home to his beloved wife Caroline and family from the battlefields during the American Civil War. The letters were passed down from mother to daughter in Jean's family for five generations. Jean Powers Soman and Frank L. Byrne edited the book, A Jewish Colonel in the Civil War, Marcus M. Spiegel of the Ohio Volunteers ( University of Nebraska Press 1995). The Foreward to the book was written by, Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus. (This book was originally titled, 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 (Kent State University Press, 1985.
Unfortunately, Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel was killed during the Civil War in the Red River Campaign in Louisiana. He died on May 4, 1864 and was buried by his fellow soldiers in an unmarked grave along the bank of the Red River, near Snaggy Point, Louisiana. His younger brother, Joseph, founded the Spiegel Catalogue Company and his niece, Hannah Greenebaum Solomon , was the founder of the National council of Jewish Women.
Jean Powers Soman served as an Acting President of the National, Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission Foundation and on the Academic Advisory Board of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. She also was a member of the Board of Directors of its successor organization, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. She is currently a member of the Ezra Consortium of the American Jewish Archives and is a member of numerous national and local Jewish and civic organizations and museums.
Jean's articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and academic journals. At the present time she is doing research on her great grandfather, Samuel G. Alschuler, a German Jewish immigrant, who was a photographer in Illinois in the 19th century. He took two famous photographs of Abraham Lincoln. Alschuler lent Lincoln his velvet collared jacket to wear in the photograph taken in Urbana, Illinois April 25, 1858. In Chicago, on November 25, 1860, Alschuler took the first photograph of President-Elect Lincoln growing a beard. (See on Gallery Page)
Jean Powers Soman would like to express her deepest love and gratitude, especially to her husband William, and to her daughters, Jennifer Soman and Jill Soman Reiter. She also wants to thank her son-in-law Jack Reiter, grandsons, Gabriel, Noah and Joseph Reiter and her granddaughter, Sarah Caroline Dereser-Soman for all of their love and support. She will be forever grateful to her beloved parents, Caroline and Gabriel Powers and her sister, Susan.
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. 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.
(In 1979, Jean Powers Soman and her mother, Caroline Alschuler Powers, donated many of Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel's Civil War letters, documents and other related letters to the American Jewish Archives). In 2022, Jean Powers Soman, donated additional letters of Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel, plus other related letters and documents to the American Jewish Archives. She also donated all of the transcriptions that she typed of all the letters and documents of Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel. To view these letters and documents digitized go to: https://Spiegel.americanjewisharchives.org
Jean Powers Soman still has some original photographs and other memorabilia of Col Marcus M. Spiegel in her private collection.
America: Promised Land | History Channel @ May 2017
Featuring Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel and Jean Soman
Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel was also featured on PBS Program,
"The Jewish Americans" which aired in January 2008