He received a liberal education in the private schools and at Madison College in his native town, where he graduated in 1845, having completed a special course embracing the higher mathematics natural and mental sciences, the Latin language and English literature. Leaving the college he entered the office of Joshua B. Howell, Esq. (afterward Colonel of the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and who was killed before Richmond in 1864), and was admitted to the bar in March, 1848. He practiced his profession successfully until April 23, 1861, when he left his office and raised a company of volunteers and entered the military service of the United States as Captain of Company F, Eleventh Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps. He served in the Army of the Potomac, and was in the battles of Drainsville, Mechanicsville and Gaines' Hill,(SIC) where, when the whole of Fitz John Porter's corps was broken and retiring back toward the Chickahominy River, Captain Bierer rallied part of the regiment, including his company, for probably the last ineffectual stand on that bloody field, and he was captured with his command June 27, 1862, and taken to Libby Prison, from which he was released by exchange on the 14th of the following August.
Six days afterward he was granted twenty days' leave of absence on account of sickness, and went home, but on learning by telegraph of the impending battle at Bull Run, he returned to the army and rejoined his command on the day of the battle. August 30, and in a few days afterward, September 14, 1862, participated in the engagement at South Mountain, Md., where he was severely wounded in the left arm, the ball passing through the elbow joint and lodging in the forearm, from which it was not extracted until the 25th of the following November, and from which he is crippled in his arm for life. Having become convalescent, October 24, he was appointed Commandant of Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, Penn., with the rank of Colonel, where he organized the 171st, 172d, 173d, 176th, 177th and 178th Regiments Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and November 18 was commissioned Colonel of the One Hundred and Seventy-first.
After serving in various parts of southeastern Virginia and in North Carolina, his regiment was ordered to Washington, N. C., where he was placed in command of a brigade and in temporary command of the military district of the Pamlico. He was also at several times in command of Gen. Prince's Division, Eighteenth Army Corps, Major-Gen. J. G. Foster commanding. He was in an engagement at Blount's Creek, near Washington, N. C., April 7, 1863, commanding a brigade under Gen. F. B. Spinola. Spinola's forces were obliged to retire before superior numbers under the Rebel General Hill. To Col. Bierer was assigned the command of the Rear Guard. The duty was critical, the enemy crowding upon him in heavy force nearly the entire night. In the midst of intense darkness, through pine forests and cypress swamps the march was conducted, and he finally succeeded in bringing off the column with the trains and all the wounded. July 1, 1863, he returned with his regiment to Virginia and went with General Dix on his expedition to Richmond.
The expedition marched from the White House landing to within eight or ten miles of Richmond, and after some skirmishing with the Rebels, Dix ordered its return to Fortress Monroe. Col. Bierer with his regiment went to Washington, thence to Harper's Ferry, where he joined General Meade, and on the 7th of that month was given a permanent brigade command, and assigned to duty as Military Commandant of the District of the Monocacy, embracing all Western Maryland, with headquarters at Frederick City, Md. September 26, 1863, he was mustered out of the service the regiment's term of enlistment having expired on the 8th of the previous August. During January, February and March, 1864, Col. Bierer served in the Veteran Reserve Corps, but not liking that service, resigned his command and permanently retired from the army. In October, 1865, he removed from Pennsylvania to Kansas and settled on a beautiful farm one mile east of Hiawatha, Brown County, and resumed the practice of his profession.
The Colonel was originally a Democrat, and as the nominee of that party was elected in 1850 the first District Attorney of Fayette County, Penn., for a term of three years. Believing that the Democratic party had become the mere propagandist of slavery he became a Republican in 1856, led the forlorn hope for Fremont in Fayette County, Penn., Democracy, and had the satisfaction of seeing the county carried for Lincoln in 1860 by a majority vote of one in a poll of about 10,000. He became during the war a person friend of Abraham Lincoln, and always regarded him as the greatest and best man of the age. In 1864 he was elected one of the Presidential Electors by the Republican party of Pennsylvania, and in 1868 was the Representative from Brown County in the Kansas Legislature by the suffrages of the same party.
In 1868 he voted for Grant, but with considerable reluctance, as he could not endorse the reconstruction and financial policy of the party, and in 1870 renounced all connection with the Republican party. His vote in 1872 was cast for Greeley, and in 1876 for Tilden, whom he considered honestly elected, and regarded the action of the majority of the Electoral Commission as a gross fraud and outrage, perpetrated deliberately for partisan purposes and resulting in seating a President who was not elected to the office. He became a member of Fort Necessity No. 254, I. O. O. F. at Uniontown, Penn., in February, 1852, and subsequently joined the Encampment. Has been District Deputy Grand Master, and District Grand Patriarch of the order in Pennsylvania, where he is still a member both of Grand Lodge and Grand Encampment.
He was also made a Mason at Uniontown in 1864, and has attained the higher degrees of the order, and is at present affiliated with Hiawatha Lodge No. 35, A. F. & A. M. He is quite liberal and decidedly individualized in his religious opinions and beliefs. He accepts the inspirations of the moral and religious teachings of Scripture, the divine lawship and preexistence of Jesus, the efficacy of His example for purposes of redemption, and a condition of future rewards and punishments; denies the inspiration of the historical records and the ceremonial and civil laws of the Jews, the doctrine of the Trinity, vicarious sacrifice and eternal punishment; accepts a salvation by conduct, not by belief, and includes all the family of the Great Father who act according to their highest conception of right.
He has been a very careful student of both the Old and New Testament writings, and his present views are the result of a thorough acquaintance with the Scriptures and extensive knowledge of Ecclesiastic history and Polemics. He has also studied carefully the Koran, the Buddhist and Brahminical Scriptures and the teachings of Confucius, which have also to some extent influenced and modified his religious belief. He was married April 8, 1852, at Brownsville, Fayette Co., Penn., to Ellen, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Troutman Smouse, a lady of extensive family connections in Alleghany County, Md., and in Bedford and Somerset counties, Penn.
Her maternal grandfather was a soldier in the war of the Revolution. They are the parents of eight children, six sons and two daughters, all of whom are living. The eldest son, Everhard, graduated from Kansas University in the class of 1877, and is now an Examiner in the Pension Office in Washington, D. C.; the second son is now one of the leading merchants in Hiawatha. In person Col. Bierer is stout and robust, nearly six feet in height, of iron frame, and was never sick excepting during the latter part of his confinement in Libby. He is the sixth in a family of seven sons and four daughters, all of whom are yet living and in good health, the oldest of whom is sixty-six years of age, and the youngest forty-four.