Lt. George Mytinger Brisbin, Co. E, 6th Louisiana Infantry – Galvanized?

20 12 2022

An Ex-Pittsburgher in Prison as a Secessionist. – Many of our citizens will remember George M. Brisbin, a printer, who was for a long time employed in this office. It had been asserted that he was in the secession army, but the following, from the Harrisburg Telegraph, is the latest intelligence we have of him: – “A man named Geo. M. Brisbin, said to be an officer in one of the New Orleans Volunteer companies, was confined in our prison last Saturday by Sherrif Boss, at the instance of the authorities at Washington. Brisbin, it appears, was taken prisoner at Bull Run, and subsequently confined at Washington. He managed, however, to secure a citizen’s dress, and effected his escape to this city, where it is said he stopped over night at the house of a relative, and proceeded next morning to Alexandria, Huntingdon county, where he was arrested. – We presume he will be taken back to Washington to await the action of the authorities.” [1]


Geo. M. Brisbin, a former resident of Pittsburg, and a printer, of whose capture, while fighting in a rebel company at Bull’s Run, and subsequent escape and arrest at Huntingdon, a note was made in this paper, a few days ago, has published a card in a Harrisburg paper. The traitor coolly complains that he was treated roughly and unwarrantably confined. [2]

1 – Pittsburgh (PA) Daily Post, 8/7/1861

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2 – Wheeling (VA) Daily Intelligencer, 8/12/1861

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George Brisbin apparently remained in Alexandria, PA, and is buried there. He also, apparently, enlisted in the 12 Pennsylvania Infantry regiment, where he remained for 2 weeks, in 1862. Below are images from his Confederate Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) (misspelled as Bristoe. all other records in the file show last name as Brisbin, and the notation on the below is consistent with those other records – see Fold3 link below) and from his Pennsylvania Veteran File Card.

The term for Confederate prisoners who subsequently enlisted in the service of the United States is “Galvanized Yankees.” Brisbin’s service in neither army is recorded on his headstone.

George M. Brisbin at

George M. Brisbin at Fold3

George M. Brisbin at FindAGrave

South Carolina Claims Virginia Too Soft on Yankee Prisoners

20 12 2022


We have been provoked, for the last two or three days, beyond further endurance, by reading, in certain Virginia papers, the most complacent and gratulatory comments on the charming charity and benevolence displayed by certain citizens and officials, in Virginia, towards the invaders of their soil – the plunderers of their estates – the destroyers of their homes and firesides, and the polluters of their women. Most humane and christian individuals! Below we copy, from the Richmond Examiner, its timely strictures upon these strange proceedings. In Alexandria, the very site of their inhuman and brutal outrages, upon the evening of the very day when the flaunting hosts of the enemy marched forth insolently, in all the pride of confident ferocity, with thirty thousand manacles in charge, to slaughter the kindred of her citizens, crush their country, and enslave their race, with all the brutalities of wild barbarians – upon that very evening of their precipitate return, what do we hear but boastings of the tenderness of these sweet people of Alexandria, in extending every kindness in their power to these exhausted and fatigued ravishers and destroyers! And why? Because, forsooth, they were foiled in their amiable expedition of rapine and murder, and driven back in haste, and were, consequently, somewhat soiled, wearied and thirsty from their long and hot run. This we learn from the papers of Alexandria, and how, also, water and food, and comforts generally, were humanely offered them. Verily does it stir the gall within a man to find our counsels and our proceedings marred by such milksop folly. If men’s weak bowels will gush out with such incontinent compassion, why, in the name of common decency, can they not, in secret and in darkness, perform such offices as ill befit the public vision?

Even in Richmond, we are sorry, very sorry to say, we have seen indications of this same parading of a sickly humanitarianism, and boastings of what extreme kindness is extended to these Northern plunderers. Are there no crying brutalities to be stopped on the part of our enemies? Is there no comprehension of the potency of retribution? Are we so weak as to not see the saving efficacy of requiring an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? For what other law is left us? Where will this folly end? There are now in the Tombs of New York, manacled in loathsome dungeons, fifteen citizens of South Carolina, who were taken prisoners of war, bearing arms under the commission of President Davis. They have been for two months dragged through the streets of New York, backwards and forwards, almost weekly, manacled like slaves, to be hooted at, at the pleasure of a greasy rabble – beasts on exhibition. They are now, we repeat, in manacles, in loathsome dungeons. Two of Carolina’s citizens have just been hung, like malefactors, to tree-tops upon the high road. How long are these things to continue, whilst Northern prisoners are to be treated “with the most distinguished consideration”? Not only are their persons most carefully made comfortable (as we are so repeatedly assured), but even their tenderest sensibilities are not to be ruffled. They are distinguished but unfortunate gentlemen, and require all the courtesies due their romantic misfortunes and distinguished positions. In the meantime, our poor boys hang swinging the tree-tops, or lie immersed in dungeons, pining away in chains. Is it supposed that all this is soothing to the minds of Carolinians? Is this further to be tolerated? Why is not every prisoner in Richmond already incarcerated and lying now in irons? How long is this mode of warfare to be permitted and encouraged? Are our troops to be driven to a murderous desperation? If so, let it at once be understood – let the Government inform them that they must redress themselves. For they most assuredly will shortly do it.

In reference to what we have said, we wish to be distinctly understood upon two points:

1st. We have no reflection whatever to make upon Virginia or the people of that State in this matter. She is now doing all that patriotism and honor and gallantry and her ancient renown require at her hands. None more cordially appreciate this than ourselves. But there are mawkish milksops in Virginia, as there are here, and elsewhere – people whom it is doing great public wrong, at this time, to countenance in any way, far less to encourage and commend – people whose weak natures and lukewarm feelings in this matter, give them no stomach for this fight.

2d. We wish it to be understood that we regard this as no matter of mere feeling, either for pity or revenge. Justice, humanity, civilization alike cry aloud for the stern execution of retribution. All this barbarity and outrage on the part of our enemy must be stopped. The sternest retribution is the quickest and surest method to enforce humanity, and compel a christian mode of warfare. Justice must be executed or lawlessness will run riot, and violence and vengeance will take the place of judgment. It is the peculiar privilege of women to forgive – it is the duty of man to execute justice.

In affairs of this sort between nations, there is but one law in operation under the sun. The lex talionis can alone protect the people and achieve humanity – for between nations we come back to first principles.

We sincerely hope we shall not be compelled to speak further upon this subject, for we have long felt it.

In this connection, it is a matter of gratification to learn that our great general, Beauregard, is, at last, bringing traitors to accountability. We learn that he “has caused three traitors to be hung recently, having first received the most indubitable evidence of their treachery. One of the parties was an engineer on the Manassas Gap Railroad, another a preacher of the Gospel, and the third a farmer. They had all furnished valuable aid to the enemy.”

Had this mode of procedure been inaugurated six weeks ago, the enemy would not have learned our countersign in the battle of the 21st, which caused so much loss of life in our own ranks at the hands of our own men. Hundreds of gallant men have fallen at the hands of their own friends, because a few traitors were not previously shot. The very battle itself was very nearly lost – a battle involving thousands of lives, millions of property. and the very integrity of the State of Virginia, imperiling, in fact, the whole cause – by the bold treachery of a railroad conductor. How many valuable lives has this cost? Let the mourners over the sad tombs of Bee, Bartow and Johnson answer. War is the rule of iron. And for that work we must have men of iron nerve, and none other. We have too long been dallying in kid glove and pump-boot diplomacy, and ginger-bread politeness. What we want is hard steel – not sentimental stuff. So far as Gen. Beauregard is concerned, we have no doubt he has seen enough, and knows how to cure that disease. He is the man to do it. We are fatigued, exhausted, sick, disgusted, ad nauseam, with all such unmitigated trifling as here described by the Examiner:

Every pains seems to be taken for the comfort and consolation of our Yankee prisoners. It is not sufficient that their physical comfort should be consulted, but the finer feelings of these unfortunate men and the affectionate anxieties of their families are also consulted and assuaged by a new system of custody. Certainly, General Winder deserves great credit for his humanity. – While he debars all access to the prisoners on the part of reporters of the press, perhaps to protect the unfortunate men from the annoyance and mortification of being too freely spoken of in the newspapers, he has not found it in his heart to hesitate to give permits for visits to carry messages from Northern relatives to the prisoners, and to satisfy inquiries about their “health,” or any other little interesting circumstances of their condition. What delicacy of humanity! It is positively a refreshing circumstance in the hardships and asperities of war – an oasis in a moral desert – a kind return of the rude jokes of the Yankee in treating our prisoners as “pirates” and jestingly threatening to murder them in the streets of Washington.

We are assured of the happening of our little incident of humanity that shows that the tenderest charity may dwell beneath a military uniform, however that garb may be a stranger to the common intercourse of politeness among civilians. It was but a few minutes before the request of a reporter to visit the Federal prisoners was refused, and the polite note making the application [?] shoved back to him, that there happened in the office, where permits are granted, the charming instance of humanity of granting a permit to a person to see one of the prisoners, that he might telegraph his health and condition, and any other interesting circumstance, to the anxious father of the unfortunate man in New York. It was deprecatingly mentioned by the applicant that the young Yankee had “got into a bad box” – certainly a mild and considerate way of putting the circumstance of a murderer having been taken in arms.

These delicacies of consideration to our Yankee prisoners, we trust, will not be lost on the North. Let the citizens of Richmond immediately send on their messages of comfort and consolation to our prisoners in New York and Washington. they will be constantly advised of their health. Their custodians will protect them from the painful curiosity of the newspapers and from the irreverent visits of the reporters. They will be treated with all the refinements of humanity; and all enquiries, except from their families, will be repulsed as impertinent, and denied with the emphasis of military impoliteness. What happy exchanges of humanity we are to have! What good fortune to fall into the hands of Yankees after they have been edified by the improved system of prison discipline inaugurated by the military humanitarians of Richmond!

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 8/2/1861

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