HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, Mo., March 5, 1865.
Capt. JOSEPH McC. BELL,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Mil. Div. of the Missouri, Saint Louis, Mo.:
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to inform the major-general commanding the Military Division of the Missouri that there are some 250 men in confinement at Alton. Ill., known as the "galvanized Yankees," i.e., men who were taken prisoners by the enemy during the last year, and who, to avoid starvation and death, enlisted in Burke's battalion, of the Confederate Army, and who in the recent raid deserted on the approach of our forces to us. These men have already applied to be sent back to their regiments, but it is not considered safe to send them where they will be in danger of capture by the enemy. There are also 1,000 prisoners of war and conscripts who refuse to be exchanged--claim to be deserters, unwilling conscripts, &c. These men have applied to enlist in our army. I respectfully submit if we had not better organize a regiment of these men and put them on the plains, where they can be made of use to our Government, relieve our prisons, and I have no doubt in most cases make better men and good soldiers. They are now a burden and expense to us. We cannot exchange them, and if I am authorized I am confident I can form an effective regiment from them by placing old reliable officers over them. I have 3,000 miles of overland mail and telegraph route to guard, and every regiment of infantry that I can put along it will relieve that number of cavalry to use in offensive operations against the Indians, who, I am satisfied, are determined to make aggressive war upon all our overland routes this spring and summer. Many of the "galvanized Yankees" I know were captured in the battle of July 22 before Atlanta, Ga., and have been good, earnest soldiers.
I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. M. DODGE,
[OR Ser. II, V8, pp. 358/9]