Locating Galvanized Yankees in Ancestry LE  

It is quite possible to locate Galvanized Yankees in Ancestry LE (Ancestry Library Edition). A Galvanized Yankee was an imprisoned Confederate soldier who enlisted in the Union Army in order to save himself from the horrors of prison life (actually, both sides recruited prisoners from the other side, generally for regiments stationed on the western frontiers). Galvanization was the industrial process of a coating a metal with zinc to resist corrosion. That metal might be zinc on the outside, but was still steel on the inside. In the same way, a Galvanized Yankee might be a Yankee on the outside, but was likely still a Rebel on the inside.

Captain George A. Custer and a captured Rebel officer (LOC.gov photo)
Captain George A. Custer and a captured Rebel officer (LOC.gov photo)

A majority of Galvanized Yankees enlisted in the Union Army in late 1864 and early 1865. Since I know that numerous Confederate soldiers imprisoned at the Alton, Illinois prison joined the Union Army, I did this Search in Ancestry LE Military Records:

SEARCH—MILITARY—YEAR 1865 (Exact + or – 1 year)—LOCATION Alton, Madison, Illinois, USA (Exact) KEYWORD--volunteers (Exact)

This search produced 346 results, while a similar search with LOCATION Chicago, Cook, Illinois USA (site of Camp Douglas, another prison for Confederate soldiers) produced 121 results. Most results were part of this record collection:

US, Confederate Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865

This record collection is actually part of Fold3.com, but the Ancestry LE summary provides:

* Age
* Birth Date
* Enlistment Date
* Enlistment Place
* Rank
* Military Unit

If the military unit listed in the summary is the 5th or 6th US Volunteers, you can be fairly certain you are looking at a Galvanized Yankee.

You can use Ancestry LE at Central Library or any of our branches.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of St. Louis Public Library