Cpl. Remiro Spicer

Ancestor Focus: Remiro Spicer and Theodora Rice

by Blaine Bettinger [blaine_5@hotmail.com]

Remiro Ernest Spicer was born on 25 November 1840 in Clayton, Jefferson County, New York, the eighth child of Nelson J. Spicer and Abigail Carley.

On 25 September 1861, at the age of 20, Remiro enlisted in Company K, 24th regiment of N.Y. Volunteers. Company K, led by Andrew “Jack” Barney, was recruited in Belleville, Jefferson County, New York. Companies A through J were recruited in Oswego County, New York.

The 24th regiment was involved in some minor skirmishes from the time Remiro joined until late August 1862. From August 16th to September 2nd 1862 the regiment was a part of General Pope’s Campaign in Northern Virginia, including battles at Rappahannock River, Sulpher Springs, Gainesville, Groveton, Bull Run, and Little River Turnpike. During this particular campaign the regiment lost 81 men killed, 97 wounded, and 59 missing. Among the dead at Bull Run was Major Andrew Barney, leader of Company K.

The 24th was also involved in battles at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Pollock’s Mill Creek, and Chancellorsville before mustering out 29 May 1863. The three year’s men, including Corporal Remiro, were transferred to the 76th New York Infantry.

Remiro’s first battle with Company E of the 76th was a month later. Remiro was only 22 years old as he approached the Gettysburg battlefield on 1 July 1863. He was one of 348 men from the 76th who engaged the enemy on 1 July 1863, and was one of the 116 men wounded. Remiro recovered slowly from his wounds, returning to service with the 76th in the spring of 1864.

Once again, the first battle after Sergeant Remiro’s return would turn out to be very costly. The battle of Wilderness, Virginia, 5-6 May 1864, although resulting in fewer deaths than Gettysburg, inflicted the biggest single wound upon the 76th regiment with 42 deaths, 60 wounded, and 180 men taken prisoner by the enemy. Remiro was captured by the enemy on the first day of fighting. According to his obituary, during the battle Remiro "was struck by a bullet which was stopped by a copy of the New Testament which he carried in his coat pocket. The Testament had been given to him by his sister when he first enlisted in the war." The 76th went on to participate in ten more battles without Remiro, and on 18 November 1864 Company E of the 76th was honorably discharged and mustered out.

Remiro, however, was taken by the enemy to the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia, arriving there by train from Gordonville, VA on 22 May 1864. For the next nine months, Remiro was a prisoner of the Confederates. During the summer of 1864, the conditions at Andersonville were at their worst. Every single day, nearly 100 Union prisoners died from starvation or disease.

The following is an article from a 1991 Civil War Magazine:

"The daily ration for the prisoners and guards was scant, being merely one and one-fourth pound of corn meal and one pound of beef or one-third pound of bacon occasionally supplemented with beans, peas, rice or molasses. The lack of vegetables led to numerous cases of scurvy from which many died. The guard and hospital facilities outside the prison were upstream and the stream was used for disposal of trash, body and animal wastes, and for bathing. The stream was also used for the same purposes within the prison. The prisoners were forced to drink from this polluted stream as it was the main water source. The flow of the stream was insufficient to carry the high volume of wastes from within the prison and prisoners began developing dysentery and diarrhea from drinking it as well as gangrene from having it get into wounds H."

According to family tradition (and indeed according to Remiro in his 1914 article), Remiro and some other prisoners prayed constantly for water. One day in August 1864 during a thunderstorm a bolt of lightening struck within the prison and opened a gushing spring which was named Providence Spring.

Remiro spent his 24th birthday as a prisoner of the Confederates. During the winter of 1864/5, he was transferred from prison to prison to avoid liberation by the Union forces.

The following is from an article about Remiro published in the Jefferson County Journal on 13 May 1914:

"Their final transfer was from Goldsboro back to Wilimington, which was being attacked by Union General Scofield. There was a hurried removal of prisoners from this point, but some two hundred of them, too weak to travel, were left to die. Among them was Mr. Spicer. During the night he managed to escape and remained in hiding until early the next day, when he, with about fifty others, was found by Union soldiers and removed to a hospital, where for the first time in months he knew the luxury of a bed and friendly care. They were placed on board a ship and sent to Annapolis. Up to the time of his rescue he had been eight days without food, and nothing but the most tender care preserved his life.

Remiro was discharged from the hospital on 16 April 1865 and returned home. He was honorably discharged from the army 19 May 1865.

On 8 June 1865, after being home only slightly over a month, Remiro married Theodora Rice, born 16 March 1845 in Ellisburg, New York, the fourth child of Franklin A. Rice and Amanda Hoisington. Undoubtedly, Theodora and Remiro had fallen in love before the war and corresponded throughout, and were probably planning on marrying as soon as Remiro returned.

A year later, on 10 April 1866, their first child, Edward Grant Spicer, was born. According to her obituary, Theodora had eight children, although we only know of seven total. The unknown child probably died at birth - three of their children died at a young age; the unknown child, also May L., born 22 May 1867 and died of tuberculosis 17 July 1883 at age 16, and Flora Estella, born 23 November 1870 and died 06 July 1884 at age 13. Remiro and Theodora's other 4 children were Minnie L. Spicer born 02 December 1868, Laurentine Spicer born 16 October 1872, Grant Edison Spicer born 05 March 1885, and Clara L. Spicer, born 30 August 1876.

Theodora died May 16, 1903, due to a series of strokes in Henderson where she is buried. The funeral was Tuesday, May 19 at 1PM, Rev Shepard of Belleville officiating.

On April 29, 1914, at the dedication of a monument at Andersonville Prison, Remiro, age 73, was one of 163 survivors from New York . The 73-year-old Remiro was accompanied on this five-day trip by his son Grant Edison Spicer, and while there he bought a bottle of water from the Providence Spring. He was an active member of the Alton Cooper post of the GAR (Grand Army of the Repbulic).

Remiro died May 4, 1926 in Adams, NY, at the home of his daughter Laurentine and was buried with his wife in Evergreen Cemetery, Henderson, NY. At the time of his death he had 17 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. 'Ramiro', Theodora, May L, and Flora E share a tombstone on which is written, "Oh how we miss them."

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- Last Updated January 19, 2003