A Galvanized Yankee soldier during Civil War-an Old West fictional short story

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Imagine me, Jacob Brown, wearing the blue uniform of the second U.S. Volunteer Infantry. We were on escort duty for a wagon train near Fort Dodge in Kansas..

I was singing without thinking about what I was singing:

Peas, Peas, Peas

Eating goober peas

Eating goober peas


“I hope you Galvanized Yankees can fight better than you sing. What is that anyhow? Goober peas?” The remark came from Nat another private but a born Yankee.

‘Just a song, I picked up from a Georgia boy” I replied.

“What’s a goober pea?”

“Truthfully. They’s boiled peanuts. Not too good but sometimes the only rations we had.” I told him.

“Well, I think we can fare better than that. We spied some game and I think the cooks got some to go for supper.”

We former Rebs got a lot of comments from the yanks but they were really glad to have the extra troops

“How did you end up being one of us, anyway?”


. “For my part anything is better than being back in the Rock Island prison camp in Illinois. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I heard it was at Andersonville, but bad enough. Rock Island, if you don’t know is on The Mississippi River between Illinois and Iowa. We was taken prisoner in Tennessee, warn’t ready for the winter at Rock Island. It was 32 degrees below and snow. We huddled around stoves when we tried to sleep Then  to make things worse smallpox started to spread later on .We didn’t get any doctors and the sickness spread.”

“Later they built a barracks to use as a hospital but prisoners still died.” I told him.

Union Soldier

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President Lincoln’s Plan


It seems Mr. Lincoln was having trouble getting enough soldiers to fight his war. He let it be known that some of us prisoners might be allowed to take an oath to the Union and be able to change the gray for the blue. One hitch was that   only those boys born in the north or outside the country could do it.

 Later on he was convinced that southern boys might be useful but his own people objected. I guess he overrode them because pretty soon the proposition was given to us. Some of us said we’d do it but we wouldn’t fight against our kin and friends. That was OK. They would send us to the western frontier where we might have to fight Indians.  I

So here I am,” I said.

“Did it get any better?”


 “Sure,  it helped to have some doctoring done and the sick prisoners were not   with the rest of us. Some dug tunnels out of the barracks and managed to escape. 

When we heard about that   a few others and me tried tunneling out once.”

“There was about ten of us to begin with. We smuggled in some camp shovels and stole a few knives from the mess area.

The barracks had a dirt floor. We started digging under one of the bunks. We mixed the dirt with the dirt on the floor.”

“That sounds like a whole lot of hard work.”

“That’s for sure. You couldn’t pay me to do that much work. But when men are desperate they do things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Besides we had lots of time on our hands.”

“Well, what came of it?”

Actually a few made it out and got help somewhere smuggling them back to the Southern lines. Get to Missouri they’d be fine. We got caught and our lousy rations got cut even more. I got out into a wooded area and thought I was in the clear, but when I got to the river I was caught. ” I said.

“Weren’t there ever any good times?”

“I guess I got to be fair. Sometimes we did get newspapers and magazines to read. Even books sometimes. One prisoner even built hisself a fiddle so we got a bit of music,” I related that with a bit of nostalgia, if you can believe it.

“Don’t sound like much, but I spose it’s better than nothing.”

“Yeah, it relieved things a little bit.”

“So, what happened then?” he asked.

Big Tree Kiowa chief. used for illustration, but does not represent any actual characters in the story Galvanized Yankee during the civil War
Big Tree Kiowa chief. used for illustration, but does not represent any actual characters in the story Galvanized Yankee during the civil War | Source

Indians


As I said, we got some joshing but the troops treated us good and taught us a lot, such as hunting game. They also showed us about the different wildlife and about the Indians. Not quite everything though. There were buffalo, which we ate as did the Indians. Mostly the hostile Indians were the Kiowa’s and Comanche’s.

We was just getting the wagons circled around for the night and a couple of men were watching the few cattle and extra horse’s to corral them. A group of men in blue coats rode up and we thought it was some reinforcements. Weren’t we surprised when the riders swooped down on the livestock and started herding them away.

“Blast,” Nat hit his first on the pommel of his saddle.” We should have expected this. Kiowa’s have done this before.”

Not knowing what else to do I took off after the Indians. I caught up with one who might have been a leader and instead of going for my revolver I leaned over and took ahold of his arm. That threw him off balance and he fell to the ground taking me with him. We were both momentarily winded but we then got up and faced each other. Neither of us went for a weapon. Two braves came up to back up my opponent but he waved them away.

He leapt at me expecting to knock me down but I dodged and he landed flat on his stomach. He didn’t stay down long though and surprised me by springing up and getting me into what must have been an Indian wrestling hold.

We went back and forth with holds and some punches. Either the soldiers or the Indians interfered expecting that it would break out into a real battle if the got involved. One thing I learned about Indians is that they admire courage especially from an enemy. Fighting bravely will win their respect if not their affection.

The fight went back and forth. One time I’d be down and then the Indian would be down. Finally when we were both exhausted   a Kiowa chief called a truce.

They gave up the livestock this time but we never let our guard down again. Occasionally I have run across that brave that I fought  we gradually became friends of sorts.

Location of Fort Dodge

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Comments 29 comments

Judicastro profile image

Judicastro 5 years ago from birmingham, Alabama

I enjoyed the read. I found out somethings that I didn't know, like a galvanized southern Yankee. Living here in the heart of Dixie I am very familiar with boiled peanuts but now I have another name for them!


Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 5 years ago

Again you have made a story come to life with interesting data in my favorite era. Thanks for the read and I'm looking forward to more--more.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Judicastro

Thank you for reading my story. I have know the song about goober peas but I had to look up a definition.I had though it was beans. I used to work at the Rock Island arsenal and there is a "confederate" cemetary there where confederate prisoners who died mostly of smallpox are buried.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Ginn Navarre

I am glad you like this story.If you are interested I got much of the information from the book "Galvanized Yankees" by D. Alexander Brown. Thanks for commenting.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I like historic fiction, especially about the old west.

Good job!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I appreciate the comment.


esatchel profile image

esatchel 5 years ago from Kentucky

I'll have to read this book! I've become very interested in this war.Ann


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for reading and commenting.The book I mentioned in a previous comment is rather old copyright 1963 but you might be able to find a copy.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 5 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

An interesting story that makes me want to know more about the Civil War. Incidently I did know what Goober peas were because my Dad used to sing the song.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Interesting that it should inspire interest in the Civil War as it is somewhat peripheral to the war itself.Thanks for ommenting.


Dusty Snoke profile image

Dusty Snoke 5 years ago from Chattanooga, TN

enjoyed the story. I also did not know about galvanized yankees. My husband is from Pennsylvania and now lives in the South. Does that make him a galvanized southerner?


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Could be.Of coarse I think the Civil War is over so neither term probably applies today.One bit of trivia is I believe the term was used in "Gone With the Wind." Thanks for reading and commenting.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Nice job. I enjoy period fiction. And this is one of the most interesting periods in American history. Well done.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I appreciate the positive feedback and glad you enjoywes it.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Interesting piece of fiction. We have visited that Confederate cemetery on Rock Island...even have a picture of it in the hub that I wrote on that subject but I did not realize that most of the interred died of smallpox. I had never heard of "galvanized Yankees" during the Civil War. I like how you interweave facts and fiction in your stories.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I've always felt that there were a lot of southerners that went west after the Civil War. Some of these wopuld have been the Galvanized Yankes who I imagine would not be overly welcome in the south. There were plantation owners who lost everything. Also freed slaves. We can't forget Mark Twain.I suspect but don't know that the legendary "code of the west" might be partly from the courtly southern tradition.

By and large though I am feeling my way through a new, to me, format.

Thanks for your encouraging comments.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Always fun to expand one's writing skills! :-)


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

That's a fine tale, DA...something an old southern boy would probably do to stay out of jail. LOL! Thanks for sharing it! WB


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Peggy W

It is really a necessity.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Wayne Brown

Probably not a major part of civil war or frontier history but an interesting tidbit. Thanks for commenting.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

dahoglund, Great fictional piece based on history. As I've said before, you make history come alive.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for your comment. I try to keep it interesting as it should be.


ZW 5 years ago

Why? :{


Chuck RitenouR profile image

Chuck RitenouR 5 years ago from Front Royal, Virginia

Very nicely done.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you very much. I appreciate your reading and commenting.


FlyingBick profile image

FlyingBick 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

FYI, the book "Galvanized Yankees" appears to be available on Amazon.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

It most likely is.I do have a copy of it,but some readers may be interested.Thanks.


lieutenantkije 4 years ago

For an interesting update, the ashes of Peter Jones Knapp, a 'Galvanized Yankee" who was caught fighting against his former Union army mates at the Battle of Egypt Station, Mississippi; was buried with full military honors at Willamette National Cemetery in Oregon a few weeks ago. It's all over the internet where as part of his sentence, Knapp had to serve in the 5th Regiment U.S. Volunteers in the Western frontier, because he couldn't be trusted to fight for the North in the thick of the actual Civil War fighting after Knapp had traded his Union blues for the Confederate Grays. It must have been hard for him in Andersonville prison, yet, so many really gallant men died in prison or waited for their turn to be exchanged...they turned down any offers from the CSA to join up with the foes of Liberty.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you for the additional information about a "Galvanized Yankee."

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