James D. Rowland -- Galvanized Yankee


James D. Rowland was born about 1843 in Bedford, Tennessee.  His family moved to near Ripley, Mississippi in Tippah County while James was still a young boy.  At the outbreak of the War Between the States, James was a young man of eighteen and engaged to be married to Miss Mary Elizabeth Johnson of Ripley, Mississippi.  The couple were married on 23 June 1861 just eight months before James would go off to war.

James enlisted in February 1862 in an infantry company called the Sons of Liberty.  Captain J.B. Huddleston was the commanding officer.  The company was made up of men from Tippah and Marshal Counties, Mississippi who volunteered to serve for "three years or the duration of the war".  The Sons of Liberty were mustered into Confederate service in March 1862 and became Company G, 37th Mississippi Infantry Regiment.

The 37th was sent to Corinth, Mississippi immediately upon organization and mustering in to defend that city from the advancing Federal troops under Ulysses S. Grant.  James and the 37th Mississippi fought their first battle at Farmington, Tennessee against Federal troops advancing from Pittsburgh Landing.  The date was 9 May 1862.  From Corinth, the 37th Mississippi was ordered to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

At Chattanooga, the 37th Mississippi was under the command of General Braxton Bragg.  The 37th was with Bragg during his Kentucky Campaign and the Battle of Perryville during the summer of 1862.  James Rowland, however, did not participate in that campaign.  According to company muster rolls for 1862, James Rowland was listed as "absent sick at Chattanooga" from July through October 1862.  Nothing is said of his sickness and medical records are not available for Confederate soldiers.  Apparently, Jamesí new bride, Mary Elizabeth, went to Chattanooga to visit or tend to her sick husband, for their first child, a daughter, was born in 1863.  It is also possible that James was furloughed to go home to Tippah County to recuperate from his illness.  James is listed as being present for duty with his company again in November 1862.  During his illness, James was paid $46.10 (on 27 September) for clothing from 17 March to 31 August 1862.

On 27 December 1862 the 37th Mississippi moved to Murphreesboro, Tennessee and partcipated in the bloody Battle of Murphreesboro on 31 December 1862 and 1 January 1863.  In the weeks following the Battle of Murphreesboro, the Confederate forces in Tennessee were reorganized.  The 37th Mississippi became the 34th Mississippi Infantry by Special order No. 31, Headquarters Department 2, dated 3 March 1863.

The next major engagement that James was involved in was the Battle of Chickamauga from 18 to 20 September 1863.  After this battle the Confederates followed the Federal forces as they moved back to Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Two months later the two sides once again met upon the battlefield in the "Battle Above the Clouds" on Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.

The 34th Mississippi Infantry, as a part of General Walthallís Mississippi Brigade, was on the front lines of the Battle of Lookout Mountain.  Little did James Rowland know on that morning of 24 November 1863 that he was about to fight his last battle as a Confederate infantryman.  On 24 November 1863 Private James D. Rowland was captured by Federal troops under the command of Major General Thomas.  He was then forwarded to the Office of the Department of the Cumberland Provost Marshal General in Nashville, Tennessee who in turn had James transported with the other Lookout Mountain prisoners to the Military Prison at Louisville, Kentucky.  The prison was under the command of Captain S.E. Jones, Provost Marshal.  Captain Jones took charge of  the Confederate prisoners upon their arrival at Louisville on 29 November 1863.

From Louisville, James was sent to what was to be his permanent home, Rock Island Barracks, Illinois.  He arrived there on 1 December 1863 and would remain imprisoned there until  18 October 1864.  The living conditions that James found upon his arrival were utterly deplorable and would be considered criminal by todayís laws of war.  According to Dee Brown, author of The Galvanized Yankees, the prisoners wore rotten clothing, teeming with vermin such as lice, fleas and ticks.  Many of the Confederate prisoners were sick and dying, but were denied any medical attention.  The prisoners were denied permission to conduct any religious, literary or musical programs.  Open pit latrines with only a roof for shelter from the  weather and no privacy were located behind the barracks.  Many men who were too sick to walk to the latrines would lie on the ground in their own filth until they died, or they would stumble into the latrine pits and die there.

It is no wonder that James Rowland, when offered the chance to leave Rock Island Barracks, enlisted in the U.S.Army.  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 Grantís 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 Lincolnís 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.

James Rowland, along with Company G, 3rd Regiment U.S. Volunteers, left Rock Island Barracks, Illinois during the third week of February 1865 and arrived at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in early March.  On 11 March, James and his fellow Galvanized Yankees were ordered to Fort Kearney, Nebraska Territory by General Grenville Dodge.  The 350 mile journey was made on foot and took nearly a month.  The 3rd Regiment arrived at Fort Kearney on 9 April 1865.  James was listed on the muster rolls as "sick at hospital at Fort Kearney" for the period 11 through 30 April 1865.  He was, no doubt, suffering the effects of  his imprisonment and the 350 mile forced march.  Also, he had suffered from some sort of sickness earlier in his Confederate military career and may not have received adequate care at that time.

James was not allowed much time for recuperation, though.  Company G, 3rd Regiment was ordered by General Patrick Connor to march west to Junction, Colorado, a counting station on the Overland Mail Route that would later come to be known as Camp Wardwell.  Their mission at Junction was to protect a section of the Overland Mail Route.  By the end of May 1865, the 3rd Regiment guarded 600 miles of roads.  James Rowland was assigned as a guard on the Overland Mail Route, most likely "riding shotgun" on the stages and wagons carrying the mail and passengers west.

The summer and fall of 1865 went rather unevently for the men of Company G.  On 3 November the scattered companies of the 3rd Regiment assembled at Fort Kearney.  From there, the regiment moved to Fort Leavenworth for mustering out.  During their thirteen months of service, only five men had deserted from the 3rd Regiment, a desertion rate lower then the average U.S. Army regiment.

Jamesí final pay for the period 30 June to 29 November 1865 was $77.79, after a deduction of $2.90 was made for damage to the property of John Mattis and others.  James D. Rowland, a twenty-one year old veteran of two armies,  returned to his family and farm in Tippah County, Mississippi by the end of 1865.  Jamesí second child, the authorís great great grandmother, Emma Docia Rowland, was born in 1866.

James probably never saw or heard from any of his Galvanized Yankee compatriots after the war.  With their semi-traitor status, the Galvanized Yankees were never really totally accepted by either side.  The western Federal and state troops with whom they served, however, had high praise for the conduct and military abilities of the ex-Confederates, many of whom went on to have long and successful careers in the U.S.Army.  There were never any reunions of the three Galvanized Yankee regiments.

One cannot help but wonder if there is more than coincidence behind the fact that Emma Docia Rowland, the daughter of a Galvanized Yankee, married Edward Leon Gatlin, the son of a probable deserter, and then moved to another state to rear their family.  Docia and Ed were married in 1885 and moved to Tipton County, Tennessee in 1888.  Emma Docia Rowland Gatlin, second daughter of  Private James D. Rowland, lived to be 103 years old and died in 1969.

This data submitted by Jeffry Gatlin

U. S. Enlistment papers of James D. Rowland

Newspaper articles on Emma Docia Rowland Gatlin

Biography page

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This page was last updatedFebruary 06, 2018