×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Cahaba Prison and the Sultana Disaster
     

Cahaba Prison and the Sultana Disaster

by William O. Bryant
 

With a death rate of 5 percent, Alabama's Cahaba Federal Prison boasted a better survival rate than the notorious Confederate prisoner-of-war camps of Andersonville, Libby Prison, Elmira, Rock Island, Johnson's Island, and Camp Douglas. Yet it was a ghastly facility, a hastily converted agricultural warehouse so overcrowded that each man barely had space

Overview


With a death rate of 5 percent, Alabama's Cahaba Federal Prison boasted a better survival rate than the notorious Confederate prisoner-of-war camps of Andersonville, Libby Prison, Elmira, Rock Island, Johnson's Island, and Camp Douglas. Yet it was a ghastly facility, a hastily converted agricultural warehouse so overcrowded that each man barely had space to lie down to sleep.

At the war's conclusion in 1865, however, in a harrowing reversal of the inmates' fates, captured Union soldiers were sent on a grueling overland march to the Mississippi River. Held there in camps at Vicksburg along with other prisoners of war, the soldiers embarked on the steamship Sultana for transportation north.
 
Traveling first to New Orleans and then heading north, the vessel held by some estimates six times more passengers than its safe limit, many of them ill, injured, or malnourished. The flow of the swollen Mississippi that April was wide, swift, and cold, and the Sultana struggled to make the journey. Then, on April 27, 1865, seven miles north of Memphis, a series of three boilers exploded within seconds of one another.
 
The lucky passengers were flung into the water as chunks of the Sultana blasted apart. The remaining wooden structure caught fire and the upper deck collapsed. Only an estimated one third of the passengers survived, hundreds of whom later died from their wounds.
 
First published in 1988, Bryant's account weaves together the many strands of the Cahaba story. Combining masterful storytelling and insightful analysis, he describes Civil War prisons, the history of the Cahaba Federal Prison and its construction, as well as the prison's commanders, prisoners, and local women who provided medical care and food to the prisoners. He tells of the violent struggles among Union inmates, a mutiny and flood that occurred during the final days of the camp, and the harrowing deaths of the liberated soldiers aboard the Sultana. Bryant's Cahaba Prison and the Sultana Disaster remains a vital part of any library of Civil War history.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Bryant deftly links the Cahaba and Sultana stories, bases his work on a variety of published and unpublished sources, and reminds us that war's legacy often derives from other than the drums and trumpets of the battlefield."
Journal of American History

"This book . . . should be part of the library of any serious student of the American Civil War."
Blue & Gray Magazine

Booknews
An account of the lives of the Union soldiers imprisoned in the Confederate camp on the banks of the Alabama River from the latter half of 1863 until the end of the war, many of whom survived only to perish aboard the steamer Sultana, when it exploded while transporting newly released prisoners from Cahaba and Andersonville, the worst accident of any type in US history. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780817311339
Publisher:
University of Alabama Press
Publication date:
06/28/2001
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

William O. Bryant resided in Murfreesboro, TN and was the author of Cahaba Prison and the Sultana Disaster.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews