Mormon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Civil War, Utah Territory, soldiers, galvanized yankee, Camp Douglas, deserter, deserting, Confederate army, Georgia, military, Annabella, Pioche, temple, mission call, missionary service, post office, postmaster, family history, genealogy, Nashville Tennessee, prisoner-of-war, Billy Yanks, Mormon pioneers


An interesting and intriguing story about William H. Norman, who served in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War as an infantry rifleman from Georgia, was captured by Union troops in December 1864 outside of Nashville, Tennessee, and was then incarcerated as a prisoner-of-war in Camp Douglas, Illinois. As a Confederate prisoner, the federal government gave him the option of remaining in the camp or renouncing his Confederate loyalty and enlisting in the Union Army. Like thousands of his fellow prisoners, he chose the second option and became a "galvanized Yankee." A few months later (after the end of the Civil War), Norman deserted from the Union ranks. To hide his identity, he assumed the name John E. Davis. He moved to Utah Territory, married a local girl, became an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), served as a Mormon missionary in Georgia, and raised a family, but he never revealed his Union military service to even his closest family members. This article explains how William H. Norman (aka John E. Davis) was able to hide his true identity for over seventy years and how his descendants finally figured out his original identity.

Original Publication Citation

Kenneth L. Alford, "John E. Davis (William H. Norman) -- A Galvanized Yankee in Utah," Mormon Historical Studies 18, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 1–19.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Mormon Historic Sites Foundation




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor