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The Galvanized Yankees Paperback – June 1, 1986
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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To bring order to the Union controlled portion of the Great Plains the US Army began experimenting with recruiting Confederate prisoners of war for service in the West. Surprisingly, 6,000 Confederates were enlisted from POW camps in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Maryland. These six infantry regiments were dispatched to garrison 10 states: New Mexico, Utah, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska. They fortified way stations and escorted stagecoaches and wagon trains while refurbishing or building new fortifications from St. Paul to Santa Fe and from Omaha to Denver.
The results of this military experiment were decidedly mixed. Some regiments performed exceptionally well while others were lackluster at best. But their impact on the West's transportation and communications systems were significant and the stories of those who served were really quite amazing. Along the way author Dee Brown provides an in-depth understanding of military administration, the intricacy with which the Union command managed and responded to emergencies, troop dispositions and transfers and the necessary logistical support required during the day of horses and oxen drawn vehicles.
But Brown really shines when he focuses on the individuals who were engaged in this effort. You meet John Pattee who organizes the defense of Ft. Rice and fights off an attack by an overwhelmingly superior Sioux force. Then there is Henry Stanley, a scamp really, who is probably the only person to have served in the Confederate Army, the Union Army and the Union Navy. He would go on to a career in journalism finding Dr. Livingstone in deepest, darkest Africa. And there is Elizabeth Cardwell, the only woman allowed to accompany her husband on the trek to Ft. Rice. She became the regiment's sweetheart. When she gave birth she and her husband had 1,000 proud as punch Uncles. When she and her child subsequently died the deepest anguish would linger for days among the enlisted men and officers alike.
Dee Brown does an admirable job of resurrecting the history of this US Army unit that gave so much toward the settling of the American West. This is a very good, interesting story well told by an accomplished author.