Men of the 34th Miss. Infantry who became Galvanized Yankees

Recruited from Rock Island Prison
Into the 3rd Regiment US Volunteers

A large part of the 34th Miss. Infantry was captured 24 Nov. 1863 at the Battle of Lookout Mt., TN. Most if not all of the enlisted men were taken to Rock Island, IL prison.  Some of these men were recruited into the Union Army to fight Indians in the west. They became known as "Galvanized Yankees".

The following is an excert from the James D. Rowland biography:

"President Lincoln, under great political pressure to lighten the draft quotas on the states, sent a trusted young Army aide, Captain Henry R. Rathbone, to Rock Island Barracks to form three regiments of "Volunteer Infantry" from among the Confederate prisoners. This was all done behind general Grant’s back, as the general absolutely did not approve of the plan to enlist the Confederate prisoners. Captain Rathbone enlisted James D. Rowland as a Private in the 3rd U.S. Volunteer Infantry Regiment on 18 October 1864 for a one year term James was subsequently assigned to Company G. Incidentally, the aforementioned Captain Rathbone was President Lincoln’s bodyguard at Ford Theater on the night of his assassination."

"The "Galvanized Yankees", as they came to be known, went into Federal service on the condition that they would not be required to fight against the Confederacy. Instead, they were sent west to keep the mail routes and roads open and safe from raiding Indians. Still, many Confederates considered these men to be traitors. In addition to their freedom, the volunteers received a $100 bounty along with food, clothing and medical care.

The following is from the diary of Lt. Lafayette Rogan, 34th Miss. Infantry, also a prisoner at Rock Island:

Sept. 29, 1864 - Frontier men are soon to be taken from amongst us.

Sept. 30 - This is the sadest day of all the days of my prison life. 15 men deserted us and take up arms against our cause. Oh how depraved the men of the present generation are become. Self, home, parents, dear wife and children are abandoned for the sake of a few oz of meat and bread - God forgive.

Wednesday 12 (Oct. 1864) - Making preparations in Rock Island for a Republican mass meeting on tomorrow. Price caused much alarm in Mo. Fourteen men taken out today and call extended for more. Five leave our Barracks. 180 have gone to the calf pen.

Thursday 13 - Desertions continue to occur to the enemy. 5 left our bks & probably as many as 200 have gone to day

In order to try to find out which men of the 34th became "Galvanized Yankees" as they were called, I compared a list of the 34th Miss. Infantry with a list of the 3rd US Volunteer Infantry obtained from the Soldiers and Sailors system. Since not all names are exactly the same I have listed them in two columns. The first is the name of the man in the 34th and the second is the man I believe to be the same in the 3rd US. Ones comfirmed to have been galvanized Yankees are footnoted. There may be more in the 1st and 2nd US Volunteer Infantry.
34th Miss. Infantry                       3rd US Voluteer Infantry
Adams, John W.               Co. K  Pvt  Adams, John W.        Co. F Pvt  Pvt
Adams, William D.            Co. F  Pvt  Adams, William D.     Co. C Pvt  Pvt  (there was also a W.D. in Co. C 23rd Miss.)
Bills, John G. *             Co. B  Pvt  Bills, John G.        Co. H Pvt  Pvt
Boggs, Samuel Robert         Co. D  Pvt  Boggs, Samuel R.      Co. B Pvt  Cpl
Byrd, G.W.                   Co. A  Pvt  Byrd, George W.       Co. B Pvt  Pvt
Cantrell, John               Co. F  Pvt  Cantrell, John A.     Co. F Pvt  Pvt
Cowan, John S.R.             Co. F  Pvt  Cowan, John S.R.      Co. C Pvt  Surgeon
Dyer, William                Co. K  Pvt  Dyer, William E.      Co. A Pvt  Pvt
Farmer, J.N.                 Co. I  Pvt  Farmer, John N.       Co. E Pvt  Pvt
Harris, Wilber F.            Co. D  Pvt  Harris, Wilber F.     Co. I Pvt  Pvt
Hill, James                  Co. H  Pvt  Hill, James F.        Co. A Pvt  Pvt
Orman, Calvin Lee *          Co. K  Pvt  Orman, Calvin L.      Co. I Pvt  Pvt
Roberson, John W.            Co. H  Sgt  Roberson, John W.     Co. G Cpl  Cpl
Rowland, James D. *          Co. G  Pvt  Rowland, James D.     Co. G Pvt  Pvt (enlisted 18 Oct. 1864)
Sanders, Alexander P. Green  Co. A  Pvt  Sanders, Alexander P. Co. I Pvt  Pvt

* Confirmed Galvanized Yankee

The following letter was sent by Elizabeth Orman to her soldier husband, the Calvin Lee Orman above, who was a prisoner of war in Rock Island, Illinois:

June the seventeenth 1864

Dear Husband i seat myself to write you a few lines to let you no how i am a geting a long me and jimmey is both well at this time and i hope these few lines may finde you well the rest of fathers familey is well all so tell Wiliam that Catherine and her childe is well and me and Catherine both lives in the house with fathers familey we all get a long very well to gether i want you to take the oath and com home for i think that it is best to live in the union and if evrey prisner wold take the oath and cum home the war wold soon end and we cold all live in the union as we did before the war comensed your fathers familey is well at this time Clint and Marion is both at home and ses that they will not fight eney mor a gain the union write to me and back your leters to James in lagrange.

Elisibeth Orman to C.L. Orman

The Clint and Marion referred to above where Calvin's brothers, Clinton Josephus and Marion Alexander Orman. Both served in the 23rd Miss. Infantry and the 2nd Miss. State Cavalry.

For more information, see the following:

Diary of Lt. Lafayette  Rogan

James D. Rowland Biography

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This page was last updatedJanuary 23, 2018