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(SwStr: t. 130; cpl. 49; a. 1 32 pdr., 1 12 pdr. r.)

Bloomer--a stern-wheel steamer built in 1856 at New Albany, Ind.--was laid up at the outbreak of the Civil War in the Choctawhatchie River in Alabama by her owner, a loyal Union man. On 27 December 1862, a joint expedition composed of officers and men of Potomac and troops of the 91st New York Volunteers took possession of her and delivered her to the Pensacola Navy Yard where she was repaired and armed. A small crew was placed on board and, on 24 January 1863, Acting Ensign Edwin Crissey assumed command. The ship was put in operation without being sent to an admiralty court to be libelled.

Although she spent most of her naval career operating in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, her most notable service occurred in December 1863 during a brief tour of duty with the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. This operation in St. Andrew's Bay, Fla.--in which she was assisted by her tender, the sloop Caroline, and the bark Restless--resulted in the destruction of 380 different salt works and of much of the town of St. Andrew's. Her commanding officer received high praise for Bloomer's part in the successful accomplishment of this mission.

Near the very end of 1863, Bloomer was at last ordered to the prize court of New Orleans to be libelled. The final decree in the case, rendered on 4 January 1865, declared this was not a case of "prize" but of "salvage." Early in 1865, she was finally purchased by the United States Navy and continued on duty on the coast of Florida in the vicinity of Pensacola until June 1865 when she sank in East Pass, Santa Rosa Island, Fla. After the wreck was raised, it was sold on 22 September 1865 to S. P. Griffin & Co., of Woolsey, Fla. Redocumented as Emma on 5 April 1866, the vessel served a private owner until 1868 when she was sold to a foreign purchaser and disappeared from American shipping records.

James L. Mooney

26 January 2006