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Re: Galvanized Yankees From Alabama

Hi Hugh,
I was surprised (and darn lucky) to find your posting on William Mers, as I am researching the “Elm Creek Station Incident.”
Mers, as you note, was killed by hostile Indians in Nebraska Territory. This was on the open prairie, about two miles east of the Elm Creek stage station along the Little Blue River and near present-day Ayer, Nebraska.
What may be of interest is that all 15 soldiers in the party were unarmed and defenseless, probably (clearly?) due to a military screw up. However, there is no record of anyone being punished for sending them into potentially hostile territory without arms. The band of Indians and their tribe were never positively identified. Suspicion initially fell on the Pawnee, but further investigation at the time appears to have eliminated that possibility. I suspect Cheyenne or Sioux since they were active in the area during the 1865 outbreak.
Working with the Adams County, Nebraska, Historical Society staff, we may have located Megs’ grave and that of the other Galvanized Yankee killed, near where Elm Creek Station was located. The other unlucky soldier was Rinaldo Hedges, also of Company C, Third U.S. Volunteers.
A few side notes:
Captain Rathbun, who enlisted Mers, accompanied Lincoln to Ford’s Theater and was in the box when the President was shot.
Another Galvanized Yankee, private John W. Twyman of Company H, Third U. S. Volunteers, was scalped while still alive, later found his scalp, put it in a jar of water and tried to find someone to reattach it. He wasn’t successful.
So far research has shown that all of the Galvanized Yankees were returning from the hospital in Leavenworth; while all the Yankees were returning from their courts martial for desertion, sentence to be served at Fort Kearney. Interesting.
Dee Brown in Galvanized Yankees (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1986) pages 23-25, provides an excellent account of the incident.
Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 48, Part 1, pages 280-284, contains accounts of a few of the survivors.

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