A “Galvanized Yankee” does not necessarily a Southern Unionist make
Just as Michael Hardy points out in his blog post today, just because a Confederate soldier opted to join the Union army to escape the horrors of being a POW, it does not necessarily mean that he was also a Southern Unionist. A close examination should be made of the records of the soldiers who took that plunge and more importantly, the pension records should be considered. Did the soldier apply for a Confederate pension or a Union pension? To be considered for the Union pension, the “galvanized Yankee” had to prove that in his “former life” as a Confederate soldier, he did not voluntarily bear arms against the United States; that wasn’t so easy to do (though some were, in fact, able to prove it).
Nonetheless, as an example of a “galvanized Yankee” who was not a Southern Unionist, consider the story of James W. Jewell.
James William Jewell was born June 26, 1845, the son of Augustine and Nancy “Fannie” Ann Nicholson Jewell. A resident of Hope Mills at the opening of the Civil War, James, at about the age of 17, joined Co. K, 10th Virginia Infantry (the Page Volunteers) on March 17, 1862. Jewell seems to have faired well in the army for sometime and did not see any large personal difficulties in health (nor did he cross paths with a Union minie ball) until May 12, 1864, when he was among the many captured in the attack on the Confederate earthworks at Spotsylvania Court House. However, even then, “Jim” Jewell wasn’t quite the type to give up just yet.
From a letter written in 1914 from Dr. Theodore H. Lauck (formerly of the Page Volunteers) to Summers-Koontz S.C.V. Camp Commander Frederick T. Amiss, Lauck conveyed the story of just what Jewell did to remedy his status among those in captivity.
After having been marched off from Spotsylvania, the Confederate POWs were taken to Belle Plains Landing on Aquia Creek before they ended up at the POW Camp at Point Lookout, Maryland a few days later. According to Lauck, they had only been at the Point but a few days before he missed Jim Jewell at the roll call.
Lauck continued; “Now for his history, as told by himself at Little Washington, thirty-nine years afterwards. He had told me in 1901 of some of his experiences, and so at my next meeting with him I asked him how he managed to procure an exchange, when none of us left behind could accomplish it. “Why, I exchanged myself,” said he, to my great astonishment and then he explained his Yankee trick that certainly beat the band a big Yankee band at that.” While in the Union POW Camp, Jewell had told Union Maj. Bradley that he “wanted to take the oath, and having taken it, agreed to enlist in their army, but not seeming too eager to do so.”
It wasn’t a terribly long time at Pt. Lookout, Md. POW camp before Jewell ended up enlisting for three years on May 28, 1864 as a private in Co. I, 1st United States Volunteer Infantry. Listed as 5’9″ with brown eyes, dark hair, and a fair complexion, Jewell was actually credited as a recruit from Boston, Massachusetts Congressional District #3 (most “Galvanized Yankees” were credited to Northern Congressional Districts).
Jewell continued that “The Division I belonged to was soon sent to the coast of North Carolina and I soon had the pleasure of being put on outside picket duty. When night came on, good and dark, I stole away from my post and struck out North West towards where I knew Dixey Land lay.” Union records reveal that he actually deserted on July 30, 1864 at or near Elizabeth City, Pasquotank Co., N.C. His military record goes on to show that for his desertion, he owed the United States government $23.48 for a Springfield musket, haversack, canteen and 60 rounds of ammunition.
Jewell reached Goldsboro the day after he “exchanged himself,” and “lounged around the depot, waiting for a train to Richmond. Citizens noticing my blue uniform, began to crowd about me and looked like they wanted an explanation, if not an apology. I was enjoying the situation fine, and waited until one of the crowd asked me where I belonged. I told him that I belonged to the 3rd Va., Inf. Brigade. Then someone cried out ‘3rd Va. Brigade? Why we have a Regt. in that Brigade, that was enlisted in this city.’ ‘Which one’, asked Jim. ‘The 3rd‘ was answered. ‘Well, said Jim. I went over the breastworks at Spotsylvania C.H. soon after I did on the 12th of May, being gobbled up by the Yankees.’ They asked him why he was in blue clothes. He explained, and then one of the party told him that the Col. of the 3rd had a home and a wife in the city, and that she had never received a line from him since the 12th of May, and did not know whether he was dead or alive. They almost forced him to go to the home of the Colonel and relieve the mind of his wife all that he could.”
Having taken “liberty” of prisoner of war camp by volunteering to “don the blue,” sometime between June and September 1864, Jim Jewell had left his Yankee “comrades” for a return trip to Virginia and his friends and comrades of Co. K, 10th Virginia Infantry. While at Goldsboro, North Carolina, Jewell gave a small degree of comfort to a concerned wife who had not heard from her husband since Spotsylvania Court House. According to his account, all that he could tell was the story of the capture, and that he did not think that there was any loss of life her husband’s regiment. She was greatly comforted by the interview, and fed him well, and made him exchange his hated uniform for a suit of citizens clothes once worn by her husband.
Theodore Lauck recalled of Jewell’s story that the wife filled Jewell’s haversack, and “I think, supplied him with expense money, for his run to Richmond. At the latter city he boarded the first train to Staunton, he could catch, without getting a pass from the provost and that mistake led him into a hitch in his plans when he got to Staunton. A small sized homeguard youth arrested him on the platform as a deserter or as absent without leave because he had to confess that he had no pass. He spent the night under guard, and in the early morning asked the little soldier to please go with him to a spring on the out skirts of town. He noticed as he walked along beside the guard that there was no percussion cap on the musket the boy carried, so when he had bathed his face and filled his canteen, he remarked ‘your gun is not loaded.’ ‘Oh, yes it is, but we are not allowed to have any caps,’ replied the unsuspicious raw one, in close contact, with an old one, for the first time in his service. Jim gave a short laugh, and heading towards home said, ‘Good morning, my son, and walking away rapidly, left the boy gasping.’”
Lauck continued of Jewell’s story, “He reached Harrisonburg before the night and was delighted to run right on to Col. [D.H. Lee] Martz, who had by some rare good fortune, got exchanged just two weeks before. He asked the Col. where the rest of the boys were and when he expected to return to the army. The Col. told him he would leave as soon as his furlough was out, and expected to find the army of Gen. Early near Strasburg. Jim told him that he would continue on home to see his folks and get a change of underclothes, and would return to duty in a week or so and here the eyes of the gay narrator widened and sparkled with amusement.”
Jewell stated, “Sonnie, I got to Fishers Hill the very night before that devil of a stampede.” Lauck continued tat “The upshot of that experience was that the crows and buzzards saw a very tired Jim sneaking across the near-by river and Fort Mountain, and scurrying across two Valleys, to reach the humble cabin above Kimball he had left just two days before.”
“While he rested and got the soreness out of his legs, he did some bushwhacking ‘on the side,’ and along with Clarence Broaddus shot at two chicken-stealing Yankees. Jim missing, and Clarence knocking his target off his horse, and stampeding the other fellow who dropped his bunch of chickens.” Lauck concluded that Jewell later “rejoined the regiment at Petersburg in the winter, and was in every skirmish and battle up to the finish.”
Years after the war, Jewell married Almira Jane Burke in Rappahannock Co., Va. and the couple had at least two children. James William Jewell died on May 19. 1917 in Rappahannock Co., Va. and was buried at Washington Cemetery there.