Samuel Bloomer served in Company B of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. He was the regiment's color sergeant, and after the war he was deeply involved in civic life and the Grand Army of the Republic.
Bloomer was born in Switzerland on November 30, 1835. He immigrated to the United States in 1846 with family, including his first cousin, Adam Marty. The family settled in St. Louis for a time before moving to Stillwater. Bloomer worked on the Henry Jackman farm and as a carpenter. He was a member of the "Wide Awakes," a group that supported Lincoln during the 1860 election.
When news of the Civil War reached Minnesota, Bloomer and his cousins joined the Stillwater Guards, a local militia group. The Guards were mustered into the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment at Fort Snelling on April 29, 1861, forming the nucleus of Company B. Bloomer was initially given the rank of corporal and participated in all the regiment's major engagements until the Battle of Antietam. He was wounded slightly in the head at the Battle of Bull Run. During the Battle of Savage's Station on June 29, 1862, which was part of the Peninsula Campaign, Bloomer was promoted to color sergeant. In the midst of the engagement the standard bearer was killed. Bloomer picked up the colors, and was separated from the regiment for five hours. He returned the colors to the regiment and was promoted for his bravery.
While carrying the colors during the Battle of Antietam, Bloomer received a gunshot wound below his right knee. He crawled to safety behind a nearby oak tree as the First Minnesota retreated. Bloomer lay there until the next day when Confederate soldiers carried him to a barn. Eventually Bloomer came into the care of his comrades when the Confederates retreated. On September 20, 1862, his leg was amputated. Bloomer spent the rest of his service in military hospitals until he was discharged on December 2, 1862. He returned to Stillwater, but became very restless and heartbroken when a local woman refused his proposal of marriage. He accepted a commission as a Lieutenant in the Veteran Reserve Corps. He served until September 19, 1866, when he was mustered out.
During his Reserve Corps service he met Matilda J. Burns and married her on December 6, 1863. They had four children together. The couple resided in Stillwater after Bloomer's service. The veteran worked as a guard at the Stillwater Prison, as an insurance agent, and sewing machine salesman. In September of 1875 Bloomer caught his wife committing adultery. They were divorced in 1878 and Bloomer received custody of the children. He married his second wife, Ellen Pressell, in 1882. Bloomer was subsequently employed as Washington Country Treasurer for six years, and established a summer camp on White Bear Lake afterward.
Like his cousin Adam Marty, Bloomer was deeply involved in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). He was appointed Assistant Adjutant General of the GAR by Marty in 1881 and played a pivotal role in reestablishing the organization in Minnesota. He was a member of both Acker Post in St. Paul and Muller Post in Stillwater. In addition to the Grand Army of the Republic, Bloomer was a member of the "Last Man's Club" along with most of Stillwater's Company B veterans.
Bloomer was also involved in veterans' affairs outside these two organizations. In 1905 he was given the honor of carrying the First Minnesota's battle flag from the old state capitol to the new. He also formed an organization which raised money and erected a soldier's monument on the grounds of the Washington County Courthouse in 1916. By 1915 Bloomer could barely walk and needed two canes to do so. He died on October 4, 1917, and was buried in Fairview Cemetery in Stillwater. An imposing monument of Bloomer as the First Minnesota's color bearer marks the site of his burial.
Adam Marty Papers, 1861–1919
Manuscript Collection, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul
Description: Original and typescript copies of correspondence.
Samuel Bloomer Papers, 1861–1920
Manuscript Collection, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul
Description: Bloomers diaries and correspondence.
St. Croix Valley Old Settlers' Association Records, 1877–1922
Association Records, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul
Description: Records of organization of people who had settled the St. Croix River Valley prior to 1860.
DeCarlo, Peter. "Freely Bleed and Even Die: The Story of a Civil War Soldier." BA Thesis, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, 2009. http://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/38960
Robert Goodman and Peter DeCarlo. In Their Own Words: The Civil War as Seen by Washington County Soldiers. Stillwater, Minnesota: Washington County Historical Society, 2011.
First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Samuel Bloomer.
On April 29, 1861, Bloomer joins the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment with his cousin Adam Marty.
Samuel Bloomer is born in Switzerland.
Bloomer immigrates to United States.
Bloomer moves to Stillwater, Minnesota.
Bloomer musters in as a corporal in Company B of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
Bloomer campaigns with the First Minnesota, fighting in every major battle.
During the Battle of Savage's Station, Bloomer saves the First Minnesota colors and afterward is promoted to Color Sergeant.
Bloomer is wounded during the Battle of Antietam and subsequently has his leg amputated.
Bloomer is discharged for disability.
Bloomer becomes a commissioned lieutenant in the Veteran Reserve Corps.
Bloomer marries Matilda J. Burns in Evansville, Indiana.
Bloomer musters out of the Veteran Reserve Corps.
Bloomer is elected Justice of the Peace in the second ward of Stillwater, Minnesota.
Bloomer divorces his first wife.
Bloomer is elected Assistant Adjutant General of Minnesota Department of the Grand Army of the Republic. He helps Adam Marty rejuvenate the organization in Minnesota.
Bloomer becomes a United States citizen.
Bloomer marries his second wife, Ellen Pressell.
Bloomer is elected Washington County Treasurer.
Bloomer carries the battle flag of the First Minnesota Volunteers from the old state capitol building to the new one.
Bloomer leads an effort to erect a soldiers' monument on the grounds of the Washington County Courthouse in Stillwater.
Bloomer dies at his home in Mahtomedi.