Personal Letter & Account of his daring escape from Andersonville by Allington Crandall, Co. G, 53rd PVI

(Reprinted from the November 1999 53rd PVI Newsletter, with the kind permission of Larry Hollenbeck and Dan Doyle.)

Allington Alphonso Crandall, 1830-1891

A woodsman from Potter County, Pennsylvania, Crandall enrolled for service on February 25, 1864 at Coudersport and was mustered into service at Harrisburg on March 4, 1864 as a private in Company G, 53rd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

‘Forward!!’ ‘Double-quick!’ ‘Charge!’, the Federals struck the Confederate salient almost at the very tip of its apex in the attack by Hancock’s II Corps, Barlow’s 1st Divison, Brooke’s 4th Brigade, of the Army of the Potomac, on the “Mule Shoe” salient, in the battle of Spotsylvania (Wilderness Campaign), May 12, 1864. Pvt. Crandall suffered multiple wounds and was taken from the trench of the “bloody angle”, a prisoner, upon a determined Confederate counter-attack and transferred by rail to Andersonville (Camp Sumter), GA. Crandall spent many weeks recovering in the hospital; however, on October 9th, 1864, A.A. Crandall, Dr. A.W. Barrows, (a surgeon of Amherst, MA, member of the 27th Massachusetts Infantry) and Charles Mather Smith, of Co. E, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, successfully made their escape from Andersonville. With Crandall’s experience as a woodsman and stealth as a deerhunter, he guided them to a chance connection with a Union gunboat and safety. Due to the results of the wounds received at Spotsylvania, he was no longer capable of service to his country and was eventually given a Disability Discharge on March 7, 1865. Crandall and Smith corresponded for years and eventually met again in person prior to Crandall’s death in 1891, including the example below from his fellow escapee.

Charlemont, Dec. 26th, 1864

My Dear Friend Crandall,
I rec’d your letter soon after it was written, but have been so very busy I have neglected it, because when I write to you, I wish to make a long letter, and even now I am out of town on a visit; but I will not wait any longer for I fear you will think I have forgotten you. Doc and I reached Boston at daylight the next morning after I saw you. I found that I could not be mustered out until I had rec’d my descriptive list from the Reg’t, so I went directly home. I was at home the next day after I saw you. I reached home at 11 o’clock at night-the folks were surprised but they had heard that I had escaped. I am enjoying myself this winter hugely. I shall go to Boston in a few days probably to be paid and then you may look for something. The people in Conway vowed not be content until I told them in public my story. I did not forget to mention the old deerhunter that was my pilot when I escaped from Dixie. I will write again Crandall, soon and more, but I felt as if I must write and let you know that I was well.I remain your close friend

(Source: “Descendants of John Crandall” at