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Galvanized Yankees

"Galvanized Yankees" was a term used to describe Confederate prisoners of war who obtained their release from prison by enlisting in the Union Army.  These former Confederate soldiers were organized into six regiments of U.S. Volunteers.  The first regiment was enrolled into service between January and April 1864.  The 2nd through 6th regiments were organized between September 1864 and May 1865.  The majority of prisoners who enlisted came from Rock Island, Alton, Camp Douglas and Camp Morton prisons in Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; and Point Lookout in Maryland.  General Ulysses S. Grant did not believe that these ex-Confederates should have to fight against their former comrades, so these Galvanized Yankee Regiments were sent west for frontier duty where they quelled Indian uprisings, protected settlers, restored stage and mail service, guarded railroad survey parties, provided escort service for supply trains, and rebuilt telegraph lines.  These regiments were mustered out of service in November 1866.

Note:  Some Confederate prisoners enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  Their records will not be included in these records. 

The compiled service records for the Galvanized Yankees have been microfilmed and are arranged numerically by regiment, and thereunder by alphabetically by surname.  The records contain the soldier’s name, rank, and unit.  They MAY also include his Confederate rank and unit, the place and date of capture, when and where he was mustered into Union service, the date of his release from prison, the date he took the oath of allegiance, his date and place of birth, and physical description. 

M1017 Compiled Service Records of Former Confederate Soldiers Who Served in the 1st Through the 6th U.S. Volunteer Infantry Regiments, 1864-1866 (65 Rolls) NARA

Related Military Records

National Archives

T288 - General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934
Some of the Galvanized Yankees received military pensions from the Federal Government.  Be sure to check the Union pension indexes to see if the soldier filed for a pension.

M617 – Returns from U.S. Military Posts, 1800-1916
Arranged alphabetically by post and thereunder chronologically.  Although the post returns contain very little information on individual soldiers, they may provide very helpful information about his regiment and their movements and activities.  The returns identify the units stationed at a particular post and their strength.  The records list the names and duties of officers, the number of officers and present and absent, and a record of events.

M594 – Compiled Records Showing Service of Military Units in Volunteer Union Organizations.
This collection provides historical data for military units in Volunteer Union Service.  Records are arranged by State or Territory, and then by type of unit.  The records contain card abstracts with information relating to the stations, movements, or activities of each unit, and sometimes their organization, strength and losses, and disbandment.  Roll #219 contains information for the 1st through 6th U.S. Volunteer Regiments (Galvanized Yankees). 

The records in M594 have also been published in the Supplement to the Official Records which can be found in most large reference and university libraries.

Ordering Information

To order the service record directly from the National Archives, click here.

For faster service, contact a professional researcher.  For a list of researchers who work at the DC facility, click here.

NARA Publications / Resources

National Archives' Microfilm Resources for Research: A Comprehensive Catalog for a list of microfilmed name indexes and compiled service records.

Military Service Records: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications (1985) is also a helpful resource.

Both of these helpful publications are available for purchase from the National Archives.

Published Sources

The Official Records of the War of Rebellion - (CD Version)
The Galvanized Yankees by Dee Brown
Galvanized Yankees on the Upper Missouri  by Michele Tucker Butts

Helpful Articles

Trading Gray for Blue: Ex-Confederates Hold the Upper Missouri for the Union
From Prologue, Winter 2005, Vol. 37, No. 4

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