1876 An Andersonville Prisoner's Experience
Published in the Elmira Advertiser in 1876,
Abijah Reynolds of Sullivan and later Mansfield details, not only his own experience in Andersonville Prison during the Civil War, but that of other of his townspeople who were with him. A sad episode in his narrative involves
Orson Spurr of Mansfield who helped him when they were paroled March 1865.
"We were shipped the 2d for Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., arriving there on the 4
th, ... I took cold while in the bath house and had a relapse of the fever that I had while in Florence, as I had not entirely recovered from it. And expecting every day to get my parole furlough kept me up, and when it did come I got within a hundred feet of the train and dropped helpless, and was put on and helped through from Camp Parole by one of my old comrades,
Orson Spurr, to Troy, Bradford Co., Pa., and was so low that I was left within ten miles of my home in Sullivan township, this county. Dr. A. D. Robbins, then of Mainesburg, this county, and Dr. Rockwell, of Troy, held a council over me and concluded to have me removed on a feather bed the remaining ten miles, and when I reached home I would not have weighed over ninety pounds, .... So you see it was by the skin of my teeth that I reached home. And this
Orson Spurr that helped me through as far as he could, and appeared while in prison to be one of the strongest ones, died the second day here in Mansfield, after reaching home in apparent health. And I doubt if there is one Andersonville prisoner in a hundred that is not left with some old chronic complaint that will, in all probability, shorten their years. "
Military records tell us that Orson was a miller before enlistment. Orson and Abijah are buried in Prospect Cemetery only a few rows apart. Abijah's account may be the only record of the story of Orson Spurr. Mansfield did not have a newspaper at that time, and Pennsylvania did not keep death records until decades later. It would have been a lost tale without this memoir, a yellowed and brittle newspaper clipping found in a scrapbook in an attic and sent to us.