US GenWeb

This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.

Samuel G. Loomis

Samuel G. Loomis, son of Samuel and Sarah A. Loomis, was born in the city of Albany, March 12, 1842. He was a dutiful and affectionate son, and was remarkable in his youth for great generosity. He always felt a sympathy for the poor, and would often practice self denial to relieve them. He attended the Pearl Street Baptist Church, and for many years was a member of that Sabbath school. He often introduced himself to young men who were strangers in the city, and by doing them acts of kindness, he gained many friends.

He enlisted October 13, 1862, in Company B, One Hundred and Seventy-seventh New York Regiment. He was on board the "Merrimac" at the time that vessel came near being wrecked, but safely reached Port Royal.

In a letter written on Christmas day, and addressed to his sister, he says:

"We bade our friends good-bye, and again set sail for parts unknown.

"At daylight, on New Year's morning, we landed at Ship Island, a gloomy place, with dilapidated barracks looking very much like the ruins of some old castle.

"I was afraid we were to be stationed there, and would prefer to shoulder a musket and face the enemy. We received orders at this place to go to Louisiana, and, accordingly, started for New Orleans. We passed that city, and sailed up the Mississippi to a place called Carrolton, nine miles above.

"This place was a marshy and unhealthy location. Where the tents were pitched, the water came upon them, while the men were sleeping."

They received their muskets at this place, and without a day's drill (for Samuel had never loaded a gun), they commenced their march up the country, the road being beset with guerrillas. They reached Bonnet Carre and there encamped.

We give the following extracts from his letters:

March 10th. Dear Mother—I was startled last night by hearing the long roll, which is the signal of trouble. I was not long in getting on my clothes. And in twenty minutes Company B was on the ground, all equipped for battle. The Major ordered us to load, but to his surprise, found we had done so. Col. Nickerson rode up and complimented us highly, saying: he had perfect confidence that we would be ready in any emergency."

"April, 1863—The first week in this month an expedition started out from our port, consisting of the Fourteenth and Fourth Maine, and One Hundred and Seventy-seventh, i. e., our, Regiment, and two cannon.

"We sailed up the Mississippi on flat boats fifty miles, and then followed the Amite river. On land we marched through swamps filled with alligators and snakes. The country being strange to us, we lost our way and got in what the slaves told us was the dismal swamp. Many boys lost their shoes, and went bare footed. I was fortunate in capturing a mule, and rode him, holding on by the mane. I managed to carry my own and several of the boys' muskets. After a march of twenty-two miles, we halted behind a pile of boards on the bank of the Amite river, near McGills Ferry. We lay on the ground. About midnight we were attacked by guerrillas. We opened fire on them, killing thirty and wounding several, and we took some prisoners. But one of our regiment was killed and three wounded. They fired over our heads. Our object was to draw the rebels away from Ponchatoula. where a part of our force intended to attack. It was a complete success. We drove them out, and captured cotton and turpentine amounting, in value, to several thousand dollars. We were absent from camp one week."

On the 18th of May, his company was sent up to McGill's Ferry to guard the place. They suffered much while there, it being a swampy place, and exposed to constant rains. They had no shelter, not even a dry place to sit down upon, but leaned against the trees to rest. They were there for ten days, with seven days rations. They were fired upon, but all made their escape at midnight and went to Baton Rouge. He writes nothing of this, but the young men who were with him give the information.

The morning following they proceeded to Port Hudson, passing through the woods while they were on fire. Samuel was one among others who took a message to the fleet anchored in the Mississippi, passing the entire front during the action of the 25th of May. He was engaged on the entrenched works before Port Hudson on the 14th of June. He volunteered with the forlorn hope, to storm the works at midnight. During the battle Samuel was frequently heard, cheering and urging his companions on, saying, "Now is the time to make your mark. Stand by the flag."

He worked in the etrenchments forty-two days without change of clothing, his knapsack having been left at Baton Rouge, with all the clothes he had. His companions told his mother that he would cheer them up, in those dark hours, by relating pleasing stories, and expressing the bright hope of meeting friends and loved ones at home.

After the surrender of Port Hudson, he writes: "Mother, I do not consider my lot a hard one. I volunteered to fight and suffer, if necessary, for the glorious cause of freedom. I do not regret having entered the army. It is the duty and should be the privilege of all young men to go, at their country's call."

After the surrender, the regiment encamped on the bank of the Mississippi, about three miles from Port Hudson. Samuel enjoyed good health most of the time. He was never, but one day, off duty, and then had hurt his foot so that he could not set his shoe on. He was anxious to visit the Port, as he did not remain there long after the surrender. He walked up on the 5th of August, and was sun struck, which occasioned a brain fever. He laid on the hospital floor without bed or pillow on which to rest his head. The boys could not even buy a little hot water to make him some tea. His rations of hard tack and salt meat were brought him daily, and he gave them to the boys without a murmur. He had no kind of nourishment during the week he laid there, and told his companions that he was dying for the want of food. He prayed often, while he had his senses, and talked much of home—the dearest spot to him on earth. He expressed great anxiety to see his parents. In his delirium, a short time previous to his death, he thought his father had come. He stepped out on the balcony, shook hands, and kissed one of the soldiers—went back, and in a few minutes breathed his last. This was on the 13th day of August, 1863. His comrades rolled him in his blanket and made a coffin of boards, which they took from a negro's cabin. They laid him in it, and buried him in Mount Pleasant burying ground. They cut his name, and the date of his death, on a board, placed at his head, and laid him under a magnolia tree. The evening after he was buried, his friends sat by his grave and sung his favorite hymns. He was a good singer, and was a member of St. Paul's Church Choir, of this city, when quite a youth. He had been under the instruction of Mr. George Warren, formerly of this city.

His parents sent for his remains, and they arrived in this city the 23d of December, 1863. His funeral took place at his father's residence, 77 Washington avenue, on the 24th, attended by his regiment and the members of Hook and Ladder Company No. 2. This company passed a series of very flattering resolutions in relation to the departed hero.

The Rev. Mr. Bridgman, the pastor of Mr. Loomis, in a discourse upon our deceased soldiers, thus alluded to him:

"There's another, whose body will be gathered with the honored dust—Samuel Greenfield Loomis, who died last August. His comrades have spoken only in the words of highest eulogy of his patience under fatigue, of his manly bearing, of his bravery in the several occasions, when his courage was put to the proof, as in the charge upon the enemy's works at Port Hudson; while in his letters to his friends at home there is scarcely one but bears a grateful testimony to the goodness of God's Providence, or some expression of his love for the Scriptures, in reading which he was careful to maintain the early habits of his home."

Then, speaking of him in connection with others, he said:

"They went out from us with firm, brave steps to the exigency and the agony of the hour. They went not in hatred nor in wrath, more than those whose loyal columns they helped to till; nor did you, whose pangs at their dying were greater than their own, send them in vengeance, but for God's honor and the salvation of the land. To-day we mourn them as our early dead. The battle was soon over for them—the weary march and nightly vigil—the contest and assault; and laying the garlands they have won upon their hearts, we will suffer the eager grave to fold them in, to their long, dreamless sleep. But fixed is our faith that something not of the dust, and not laid low on the field—something which the funeral procession cannot marshal, nor the earth that opens for the dead, can ever swallow up, has escaped alive unto the land of peace, unto the great triumphant company of the immortals."

Send comments or suggestions to:
Debby Masterson

Go Back to Albany County Biographies
Go Back to Home Page