|Draft of an appreciation, by Ted Spurling, Sr., July 2002
Gen. Andrew Barklay SpurlingWas born in Cranberry Isles, Hancock county, Maine, March 20, 1823. Attended school until twelve years old, and in those days, was the leader of the boys his age. After leaving school, he became a sailor. At the age of eighteen, he went to California, where he worked in the mines for a year and a half, then took up a claim in San Jose Valley, and for four years was a farmer and hunter, being in the saddle every day. He was a radical and anti-slavery man, and as California had many emigrants from the south, he came in conflict with them. A heated political discussion resulted in a challenge to a duel, which young Spurling accepted, choosing bowie knives, the favorite southern weapon. They selected seconds, and after much agility on the part of both, Spurling, who did not want to shed blood, watched his chance and knocked his antagonist down, sat down on him hard, and made him promise to keep the peace, and then let him up, only to betrayed again attacked. Spurling repeated his previous tactics and slashed the Southerner cheeks and when the blood flowed into his mouth and nearly suffocated him, he cried for mercy, and was forever after a peaceable "Fire-eater."
Companion Spurling enlisted Sept. 18, 1861, in Co. D, 1st Maine Cavalry, was commissioned as Lieut. (1st) Oct. 19, 1861; Captain, Feb. 1863: promoted to Major of the 2nd Maine cavalry, Jan. 1864; to Lieut. Col. June 1864; Colonel and Brevet Brig. Gen., 1865; for services in the campaign against Mobile. Served until Dec., 1865. He was wounded at Brandy Station, Va., June 9, 1863, and at Uppersville, Va., June 21, 1862. His official records reads: "At Evergreen, Ala., March 23. 1865, this officer, then Lieut. Col. of the 2nd Maine Cavalry, and commanding a cavalry expedition, while visiting his picket, heard men approaching, and leaving his outpost., advanced alone in the darkness, and came upon three of the enemy, fired upon them, which fire was returned, wounded two and captured the whole party."
It was during the campaign against Mobile, that Companion Spurling won his Medal. His command left Barrancas on transport, March 19th, and by three o'clock on the 20th, Spurling had landed his force on the east shore of the Blackwater River, three miles below, and opposite Milton, and marched for the railroad via Andalusia. Confederate scouts were frequently met, and few escaped capture. The night of the 23rd from eleven o'clock to one o'clock in the morning, the column stopped to rest a few miles out of Evergreen. Soon after the column halted, Col. Spurling rode forward to his advance picket line, and had scarcely arrived there when he heard talking in front. Dismounting quickly, he cautioned to be on the alert. He then stepped forward a few paces and satisfied himself that there were men approaching. He crouched down beside the fence to let them pass. There were three. As soon as they got by, Spurling jumped in their rear, and commanded them to surrender. They demanded to know who he was. Spurling replied, "I'm a live Yankee." At that, the confederates raised their rifles on him and Spurling, as quickly, commenced firing on them with a revolver, wounding two and capturing three. They proved to be Lieut. Watts, of Genera1 Clanton's staff and two scouts. By this Spur1ing prevented alarm being given of his approach. At three o'clock of the morning of the 24th, he cut the railroad seven miles above Evergreen, and captured a train of up and down cars, one loaded with Confederate troops, whom he took prisoners. Having destroyed considerable railroad track and rolling stock, he came down via Parta, bringing his prisoners mounted on captured horses. At Sparta he found six more cars, which he destroyed, and the depot containing public stores, which had been sent down from Pollard for safe-keeping. The morning of the 26th, attempting to cross the bridge, over Murdock Creek, it was found to be partly destroyed, and a small Confederate [force] was posted on the other side, behind a strong barricade of logs. It was dislodged and driven off by a detachment of the 2nd Illinois and 2nd Maine, dismounted. Lieut. Vose and one man of the 2nd Maine Cavalry were wounded. The bridge was then repaired and crossed. Col. Spurling's command arrived at Pollard only a short time after Spicely's Brigade had left, and joined Steele's Column the morning of the 27th. Col. Spurling accomplished the object of his expedition in a brilliant manner, and without the loss of a man. The capture of Lieut. Watts and his men prevented them giving the alarm and to prevent any of the group escaping. It was a brave deed, and succeeded because Spurling had the nerve, a cool head, and was a dead shot with the revolver or carbine. His orderly, Benjamin Beals, held his horse, and with the pickets, heard every word said.
Lieut. Watts was the son of Governor Watts of Alabama, and his wound was a bad one. Dr. Martin was quickly sent for, and Col. Spurling held Lieut. Watts in his arms while the doctor probed for the ball and dressed the wound. A few months later, when Col. Spurling was riding along the street in Montgomery, Ala., Lieut. Watts hailed him and held up the bullet, saying "Here is your ball." It had just been extracted. It was for this exploit that Congress, more than thirty two years later, voted Col. Spurling a Medal of Honor.
Before the war, Companion Spurling followed the sea as captain until he enlisted. At the close of the war, he returned to his old profession, having his vessel wrecked at one time - off Cape May, and for twenty two days drifted at the mercy of the waves before being rescued. He was elected Sheriff of Hancock county [Maine] for four years, proving as dashing and fearless as in war. He incurred the displeasure of the politicians, and was defeated for a nomination for a third term, although having the support of the citizens of the two large towns, Ellsworth and Bucksport. At the call of several hundred voters he ran as an independent Republican candidate for Sheriff of the county of Kane, Ill., of suppressing vice as city marshal of Elgin and came near an election, dividing the party vote in the cities of Aurora and Elgin. About a year after the close of his administration as sheriff of Hancock county Maine, Gen. Spurling was appointed Post Office inspector, with headquarters in Chicago, which he held for five years, winning great praise from that department for his efficiency.
Companion Spurling comes of patriotic stock. His grandfather*, like himself, followed the sea, and in the war of 1812, did good service for the country. The General married in 1855, Miss Harriet S. Black, (now deceased) who was the granddaughter of Col. Black of Maine, one of the heroes of 1812, and her father was a captain in the National Guard of that state. His medal will be inherited by his eldest son, Addison C. Spurling.
* Benjamin Spurling was a Rev. War veteran, as well.
Gen. Andrew Spurling's father was Samuel L. Spurling. Andrew's mother was Abigail Hadlock (of Little Cranberry Island.) Gen. Andrew was a first cousin to my great grandfather, George N. Spurling, and also a first cousin to my great grandfather, Gilbert T. Hadlock.