Assemblyman Samuel H. Cavileer (R-Port Republic) was a 23-year-old mariner with a fleet coasting off the coast of Charleston when Fort Sumpter fell in April 1861.
He returned home to New Jersey and immediately enlisted in the 4th New Jersey Army and fought in the principal battles of the Army of the Potomac. In June 1862, Cavileer was taken prisoner by the Confederate States Army at the Belle Isle Prison in Virginia. Along with other Union soldiers, he suffered from malnutrition.
Cavileer was released at some point and immediately re-enlisted in the Union Army. He fought in the Third Battle of Winchester in September 1864 and was wounded, permanently leaving his left arm mostly useless. Still, Cavileer continued his military service until the end of the war.
In 1867, at age 29, Cavileer was elected Atlantic County Sheriff and served a three-year term.
He was elected to the State Assembly in 1871, winning his seat by 273 votes. He was re-elected in 1872.
Cavileer died in September 1876 when a ship he was captaining off the coast of Atlantic City was lost at sea during an intense windstorm. He was 38.