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Austin Families Association of America

Four Galvanized Yankees

Four Galvanized Yankees Named Austin*

More than 400,000 soldiers, in the North and the South were captured and imprisoned during the Civil War. More than 45,000 of them died in prison. Exchanges and paroles of prisoners on both sides ended after 1863.

Sustaining care of Confederate prisoners became increasingly difficult for the Union Army, so the men were offered amnesty and freedom provided they become soldiers in the Union Army. The Army needed soldiers to do the "unpleasant tasks" of fighting the Indians in the West, and building pontoon bridges, so it didn't take very long for idea of using these prisoners for those tasks to take hold.

The prisoners were required to sign amnesty papers, a process which came to be known as "Swallowing the Dog," and were then assigned to six specific U. S. units: Volunteer Infantry, Regiments #1 through #6.

Some 20,000 Confederate prisoners joined the Union Army as so-called "Galvanized Yankees." Dr. Helen Cook Austin has researched the stories of four Confederate soldiers surnamed Austin.

  • John R. Austin of Co. G, 2nd Arkansas Rgt., Mtd. Rifles-Camp Douglas Prison, assigned to Co. F, 6th Rgt. US Vol. Inf.
  • Littleton B. Austin of Co. H, 31st Rgt., Alabama Inf.- Rock Island Prison, assigned to Co. A, 5th US Vol. Inf.
  • Nicholas D. Austin of Co. D, 10th Rgt. Missouri Inf. - Alton, IL Prison, assigned to Co. A 5th Rgt. US Vol. Inf.
  • John H. Austin of Co. G, 31st Tennessee Inf. - Rock Island Prison, assigned to 2nd Rgt. U S Vol. Inf.


* Adopted from the report: "Heroes Who Swallowed the Dog to Stay Alive: They Were Called Galvanized Yankees" and based on the data compiled by Dr. Helen Cook Austin for the AFAOA 2012 Annual Meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia.


Websites

Books

  • Brown, Dee. Galvanized Yankees. University of Nebraska Press, 1986.
  • Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. Union regimental Histories, Dakota Territory
  • Patrick, E. J. The Civil War Reader: Facts, Trivia, Legends, and Lore. New York, MDF Books, 2008.
  • Movie: "Major Dundee". Starring Charlton Heston and Richard Harris.