Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History

Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History

Alan Huffman

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0061470546

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“One of the most riveting war stories I have ever read….Huffman’s smooth, intimate prose ushers you through this nightmare as if you were living it yourself.”
—Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm


The dramatic true story of the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history, Alan Huffman’s Sultana brings to breathtaking life a tragic, long forgotten event in America’s Civil War—the sinking of the steamship Sultana and the loss of 1,700 lives, mostly Union soldiers returning home from Confederate prison camps. A gripping account that reads like a nonfiction Cold Mountain, Sultana is powerful, moving, rich in irony and fascinating historical detail—a story no history aficionado or Civil War buff will want to miss.

The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian



















looters, and Jones intervened and apologized for their behavior. When he mentioned that he was from Indiana, the woman told him she had a son there. In a strange coincidence, Jones knew the man, and so he offered to provide the family a letter so that they might receive provisions from the army in Decatur. The family politely declined, saying it would cause trouble with their neighbors. Late in the afternoon the column began threading its way through a mountain gap, and night fell before they

made it difficult for the men to breathe. After the moon set at about 2 a.m. and it became too dark to see, Rousseau called a halt. The next day the raiders occupied the town of Talladega; burned the railroad depot, several train cars, and a gun factory; and captured food stocks earmarked for Atlanta. When they departed Talladega they took with them a group of liberated slaves and a few fresh horses. Private Jack Wilson, who was with the 8th Indiana, wrote that the region around Talladega was

are that my friend Dow will get killed or not be able to fulfill his promises with me.” June 13 was cold and rainy, which inspired Melvin to record a little ditty: “When the birds cannot show a dry feather, Bring Aunt with her cans & Marm with her pans And we’ll all be unhappy together.” June 14: His friend Handy had the shakes. June 15: With the arrival of more than a thousand new prisoners came word that fifty-three men had been killed or wounded or were missing from Melvin’s regiment in the

there were many more; Gambrel’s tally was about twenty-four hundred, not counting a hundred civilian passengers and a crew of eighty, for a total of almost twenty-six hundred. At 8 p.m., Kerns left the boat and headed toward the Pauline Carroll. He had earlier convinced the boat’s captain to delay his departure until the Sultana left, hoping it would become obvious that some of the men should be transferred. The captain had agreed to stand by, but now Kerns told him he might as well go. Soon the

create the narrative later. Learning takes place in between. Though my father was never captured or wounded, he endured long marches, beachheads under enemy fire, combat, sniper attacks, sickness, and the misery of cold, remote winter camps. But on those occasions when he faced the possibility of his own demise, he did not recall feeling much of anything other than an urgent need to act, and the importance of keeping a level head. Like Tolbert and Maddox, he had never heard of the amygdala or the

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