Act of Kindness: Sgt. Samuel Bloomer & Pvt. William H. Andrews

Andy Cardinal

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BloomerS.jpg

Sgt. Sam Bloomer, 1st Minnesota​

Samuel Bloomer was born in Switzerland on November 30, 1835. His mother died when he was 5 and he emigrated to the United State's with his grandparents and cousins in 1846. They first settled in St. Louis, then migrated to Stillwater, Minnesota, in 1848. Bloomer worked as a carpenter and was active in the "Wide Awakes" before enlisting in the 1st Minnesota. He was mustered in as a corporal in Co. B on April 29, 1861. He was slightly wounded at Bull Run. He served throughout the Peninsula Campaign and was promoted to Color Sergeant on June 3, 1862.

From Bloomer's Journal: Wednesday Sept 17th. We were up very early then got our coffee & about 7 oclock we fell in line, forded Antietam Creek, marched about 1 mile, formed in line of battle & advanced through fields, woods & over fences & over the field where the Battle commenced early in the morning & which field was covered with dead & wounded of both sides. At last we halted at the edge of a cornfield by a rail fence but still we were in the woods. Had not been at the fence more than 15 minutes before a most terrific fire was poured into the left of our brigade from the rear & front & which fire came quickly down the line to the right wher we were.The firing was very light for a time but I knew I had to go to the rear for I was shot in my leg just below the knee. I had just got behind a large tree when the whole line was ordered to fall back, which they did leaving me behind. The advance of the secesh soon made their appearance & passed by me but did not go a great ways further but formed their picket line about 40 rods in fron of me & shortly their line came up & formed just where our line had stood, which left me about 40 rods in front of their line. A wounded prisoner, I was let on the field all day & the shot & shells of both armies playing in or about there all day cutting off limbs of trees & tearing up the ground all around me & which made it a very dangerous place. But as luck would have it, I got through safe. By that fence my pardner Oscar Cornman was killed & one of Co A, likewise some were wounded & all the wile the battle was raging terribly on our left. Secesh were quite gentlemanly toward me, but they took from me my sword which was a present to me from Lieut Muller, likewise two revolvers for which I did not care so much.

Here is an account published in Confederate Veteran entitled "A Wounded Federal Color Bearer - From report of His Experiences-Sam Bloomer" (April 1909): The battle of Antietam, or Sharpsburg, "one of the deadliest of the Civil war," was fought September 17, 1862. Sharpsburg, a small town, is on Antietam creek, near which the Confederate army was posted before the battle. Gen. R. E. Lee commanded the Southern army, and the Union forces were under the command of Gen. George B. McClellan. General Lee's forces were "outnumbered at least two to one." The loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners aggregated not far from 25,000 men, about equally divided.

The 1st Minnesota Regiment was in the thickest of the fight all day. It was located at the extreme right. Sam Bloomer was the color bearer of the regiment and early in the forenoon while he was resting the flagstaff on a fence in front of him a Minnie ball struck his right leg below the kneecap, passing straight through. At the place of the egress, the bullet left a ghastly wound. About that time, our line was broken, leaving its faithful color bearer to his fate. Sam crawled to the foot of a big oak tree for protection against the Confederate fire; but as our men fell back and the Confederates occupied the place, he found a change of base desirable. He crawled painfully and slowly around the tree to avoid the fire from his friends. Sam had ripped away his clothing, dressed the wound as best he could, and kept it bathed with water from his canteen, and then bound his leg above the knee with a strip from his blanket to prevent a fatal loss of blood. Several days thereafter when the injured leg was amputated the strip was out of sight, enveloped in the swollen flesh on either side.

"Not far from noon" says Sam, "a Confederate soldier, whom long afterwards I learned was W. H. Andrews, first sergeant of Company M, 1st Regiment Georgia Regulars, came up; and learning of my condition and the fact that I was between two fires, he and some of his comrades piled cord wood around me to protect me from the shots. I have no doubt that more than a hundred bullets struck that barricade during the day. Early in the evening Stonewall Jackson came riding by. He halted a moment, spoke kindly to me, asked to what regiment I belonged, and ordered the men who had charge of a lot of Union prisoners to supply my wants and make me as comfortable as possible. A captain of a North Carolina regiment a little later stopped and chatted with me, gave me a drink from his canteen, and spoke kindly and encouragingly. He rode away, but returned during the night and replenished my canteen with cool water. Previous to this a Confederate officer appeared whose conduct was unlike that of General Jackson and the North Carolina captain. He reviled me with bitter words, called me a ****** thief, etc. I had a revolver and a short sword under my rubber blanket on which I lay, and in my rage I attempted to get at the revolver, intending to shoot the fellow' but he had his eyes on me and shouted: 'Disarm that man!' The soldiers of course obeyed, although with a show of reluctance, and all that I could do was protest indignantly. I hated to part with the sword, as it was a present from Capt. Louis Muller. I asked the officer to let me retain the weapon; but he was inexorable, and I never saw the sword again. This was long ago, and time softens our animosities, and I don't know that I would harm that fellow if I should meet him."

Sam lay there on the ground until the evening of Thursday, the 18th, when the Confederates carried him on a stretcher to a little barn surrounded by straw stacks, where he lay another night. He was not alone, for there were more than one hundred other prisoners in the hands of the Confederates, whom it was their intention to parole.

Sam sent word to the officers of his company by Minnesota troops telling of his sad condition. He and three others of the wounded men were conveyed by ambulance to the Hoffman barn. Sam was obliged to sleep on the ground another night, as there were hundreds of others ahead of him awaiting treatment by the surgeon. The next day Dr. Pugsley amputated the injured leg.

BloomerSamGrave2.jpg

Bloomer's Grave​

Information about Bloomer, including journal,entry and pictures,found at 1st Minnesota Blog
 

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Andy Cardinal

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William H. Andrews was born on April 15, 1838. In the 1860 census, Andrews was listed as an overseer living in Ft. Gaines, Georgia. He was also a member of the Ft. Gaines Guards, a prewar militia company. He was a member of the 1st Georgia Regulars (G. T. Anderson's brigade at Antietam) and late in life wrote a war memoir entitled Footprints of a Regiment.

In the following account, which is from a letter Andrews wrote to Ezra Carman, also tells of his encounter with Sgt. Sam Bloomer:

The grey streak of dawn had just begun to mantle the eastern sky on the morning of September 17th when fighting was resumed in Jackson's front and soon became a general engagement along the entire front. General Anderson's brigade was ordered to General Jackson's left. We moved by the left flank to our left passing the pump at the northwest corner of town then turned to the southwest passing a spring on our left. To our right was a field of green corn occupied by the enemy's artillery and from the noise they made through the corn must have been shooting trace chains instead of shells.
In the stubble field between the spring and cornfield the ground was covered with Confederate dead and wounded. The wounded would ask what command as we went over them and being told Georgians they would cheer us on to victory or death. We must have gone at least one mile to the southwest of Sharpsburg when the order was given by the right flank, we moved in line of battle through a large field to a heavy timbered piece of woods which was occupied in heavy force by the enemy in line of battle.
(This is the West Woods)

Before reaching the woods the enemy's sharpshooters opened fire on us. General Anderson ordered his brigade sharpshooters to the front. The brigade reached the fence and tore it down making breastworks of it when we were ordered to lie down.

Our sharpshooters entered the woods and I saw a Federal officer with high military boots on shot down and he had not quite stopped kicking before his boots were off. Shoes were in great demand in Lee's army as thousands were barefooted and you could trail them by their blood.

Soon after we arrived at the fence, Kershaw's South Carolina Brigade marched up within twenty feet of our line and halted. Just at the right of our brigade a regiment moved in by the right flank, the enemy's line of battle was beyond the ridge in a bottom and not visible from our position at the fence. As the head of the column rose the ridge the enemy opened fire on them. The regiment was ordered to right wheel into line which was promptly executed under the enemy's fire and on reaching the crest of the ridge opened fire, Kershaw's South Carolina Brigade was then ordered in passing over us.

General Kershaw asked what command and being told Anderson's Georgia Brigade called for three cheers for the Georgians which his men gave with a vim and moved forward into the fight. It made the Georgia boys feel good to watch the Palmetto boys move into action. As their heads rose over the ridge the enemy opened fire on them, but not a man flinched or a gun fired until they reached the crest and then such a volley of musketry as would scare a weak kneed soldier to death.

General Anderson then ordered his brigade by the left flank double quick and away we went at the right shoulder shift how steady the boys moved as though on drill.

As we were well under way the enemy opened fire on us, their line being on top of the ridge and not more than sixty yards from the fence.
What a move under the enemy's fire, but not a bobble or a break until we gained our brigade distance to the left so we could come in on the S.E. left General Anderson then gave the order by the right flank and we jumped the fence it would then have done your heart good to hear the rifles of the Georgia boys.


As I jumped over the fence and cast my eyes to the front I saw directly in front of me the stars and stripes. How defiant that flag looked as it unfurled to the breeze then gradually wound itself around the staff to be lifted again by the powder exploding around it. Right then and there I though it would be the greatest feat of my life if I could topple that flag in the dust by shooting the color bearer. In placing my rifle to my shoulder I pressed the trigger, but instead of the colors falling my gun snapped. My feelings can better be imagined than described. I had to pick the trobe and recap before I knew what was going on about me.

On looking up I saw that the line had passed me. The order to charge had been given and I saw Lieut. G.B. Lamar, Captain Wayne and several other officers with swords aloft calling on the men to follow them. The line had fired about two volleys when ordered to charge.
The enemy were generally routed leaving the ground covered with the dead and wounded (I was on many battlefields during the war but never saw the ground covered so thick with the fallen) it then became a tree to tree fight. Anderson's Brigade sweeping everything before it.


During the fight I passed Captain Wayne and one or two other officers supporting Captain Montgomery who was wounded in the head. He was promptly sent to the rear.

It seemed like it was only a few minutes that we were driving the enemy out of the woods, it being a total rout as the last squad I saw only amounted to three men. When our brigade was nearly through the woods a staff officer dashed down the line and ordered our line to fall back as the South Carolina boys had failed to move the enemy in their front and were were in a position to be cut off.

The line ceased firing about faced and returned to where we jumped the fence, I never returned with the line but kept on with a number of others to the fence.

In the fight I had fired forty-five rounds all of my ammunition so I scrambled around until I soon had a good supply on hand and was ready for another racket.

While hunting cartridges I encountered the color bearer of the First Minnesota Regiment who was wounded through the thigh, but was taking it as cool as if it had only been a scratch, we had quite an argument about what we were fighting for. He claimed he was fighting for the Union I told him he was fighting for the negro.

While talking to him a Federal Battery dashed up to the fence and opened through the woods the shells passing between myself and the brigade. About that time an officer requested several others and myself to establish a picket line on the left to keep the enemy from flanking us, which we did but the artillery fire became so hot we moved still farther to the left out of range.

When I finally sought my command it had moved up to the right and charged the enemy in an apple orchard where our Colonel W.J. Magill lost his arm.
 

Andy Cardinal

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After the Confederates retreated the wounded Bloomer was taken to a field hospital. According to his journal: Sept. 20th This day will long be remembered by me, for about 8 o'clock A M the doctors put me up on the table & amputated my right leg above my knee. And from then the suffering commenced in earnest...

Bloomer was discharged from the hospital in Smoketown on December 12. He served in the Veteran Reserve Corps and was mustered out in September 1866. He
sold sewing machines and also was a justice of the peace after the war. Later he served as county treasurer. He was very active in the GAR and carried the old flag of the 1st Minnesota when it was taken to the new state capital in 1905.
 

Andy Cardinal

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From History of the First Regiment Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1864 (p. 222) "In 1901, Sam Bloomer, who had his leg amputated at the David Hoffman barn, on the Antietam battlefield, corresponded with W. H. Andrews, formerly First Sergeant of Company M, First Georgia Regulars, one of the Confederates that assisted him when he lay wounded in the Dunker Church woods. Mr. Andrews, in 1901, lived at Sugar Valley, Gordon County, Georgia. The correspondence is interesting and is preserved in Sam Bloomer's scrap book, in the Stillwater [Minnesota] public library."
 



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