A Soldier’s Hat, On a Pedestal

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Owen F. Solomon

1829 – September 27, 1859

Carved atop a shaft of white marble rests a pillow with the hat of a soldier.  There are four symbols on this monument: the soldier’s hat, a sword, the laurel wreath, and the Masonic symbol.  With the exception of the later, the others refer to Solomon’s service in the Army.

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The entry (#1596) in Bvt. Major-General George Washington Cullum’s (Colonel, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army) Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, from Its Establishment March 16, 1802 to the Army Reorganization of 1866-67, Second Edition, Volume 2 (published by D. Van Nostrand, 192 Broadway, New York, 1891) details his military career:

Military History:

Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1849, to July 1, 1853, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut. of Artillery, July 1, 1853.

Served: in garrison at Ft. Moultrie, South Carolina, 1853, — and Ft. Myers,

(Second Lieut., 4th Artillery, Nov. 25, 1853)

Fla., 1853‑54; on frontier duty at Ft. Brady, Michigan, 1854‑55, — and Ft. Brown, Texas, 1856; in garrison at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, 1856‑57; (First Lieut., 4th Artillery, Oct. 31, 1856)

Florida Hostilities against the Seminole Indians, 1857‑58; and on frontier duty at Ft. Leavenworth, as Acting Asst. Adjutant-General, Feb. 6 to May 18, 1858, in quelling Kansas Disturbances, — and Ft. Laramie, Dakota Territory, 1858‑59.

Solomon died, Sep. 27, 1859, at Ft. Laramie, Dakota Territory.

Owen F. Solomon was 30 years old.  His body was brought to Atlanta, Georgia, and he was buried in the Oakland Cemetery.

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The monument bears his name within a laurel wreath but the other details are illegible.  The laurel wreath dates back to Roman times when soldiers wore them as triumphal signs of glory. The laurel was also believed to wash away the soldier’s guilt from injuring or killing any of his opponents. In funerary art the laurel wreath is often seen as a symbol of victory over death.

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One Response to A Soldier’s Hat, On a Pedestal

  1. Richard Rieck says:

    I am completing work on a book manuscript about deaths on the Oregon/California/Mormon Trails, 1861-1865 and encountered your post for 1LT Owen F. Solomon.

    You may be aware that there is a marker for him at the Camp Floyd Cemetery in Utah.
    http://campfloydcemetery.blogspot.com/
    https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=5840472

    An unknown number of the stones at Camp Floyd do not have remains associated with them as the individuals they represent died elsewhere. If that is the case, his marker is a cenotaph or memorial. Less likely, Solomon might actually have been moved from Ft. Laramie and is buried in Utah.

    Even by 1859 (and later) it was not common (or easy) to move remains back to the Missouri River for transport to a hometown for burial.

    I am writing to inquire if you have any information about his marker in Oakland Cemetery and whether you happen to know if his remains were **definitely** moved there. It is not at all uncommon to find memorial markers in cemeteries east of the Missouri River for individuals who are (without doubt) still buried in the west where they perished. When erected, the family certainly was aware the marker was a cenotaph and that the remains were elsewhere, but over the generations this information was lost so that today it appears to be a grave marker when such is not the case. Sometimes the inscription on the marker clarifies the situation, usually it does not. Since it is no longer legible the carving on the stone is of no help.

    I am aware that you likely have no further information on this subject but nevertheless thought I would ask. Thank you.

    Richard Rieck
    Professor Emeritus
    Dept. of Geography
    Western Illinois Univ.

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