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

By Alan Huffman

“One of the main riveting warfare tales i've got ever read….Huffman’s tender, intimate prose ushers you thru this nightmare as though you have been dwelling it yourself.”
—Sebastian Junger, writer of The ideal Storm


The dramatic precise tale of the worst maritime catastrophe in U.S. background, Alan Huffman’s Sultana brings to breathtaking lifestyles a sad, lengthy forgotten occasion in America’s Civil War—the sinking of the steamship Sultana and the lack of 1,700 lives, ordinarily Union squaddies returning domestic from accomplice felony camps. A gripping account that reads like a nonfiction Cold Mountain, Sultana is strong, relocating, wealthy in irony and engaging ancient detail—a tale no heritage aficionado or Civil warfare buff should want to miss.

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On the Memphis waterfront, which used to be now teeming with humans, ladies of the Sanitary fee met the survivors; washed the soot, dust, and blood from them; and gave them blankets and purple lengthy johns. because the day wore on, huge crowds remained on the waterfront, handing out espresso, nutrition, outfits, and blankets, or just gawking. The survivors have been carried to a number of hospitals—Adams, Overton, Washington, Gayoso, Officers—and to the warriors’ domestic. At Adams, McLeod used to be instructed that one among his legs—the correct one, which have been shattered at Shiloh, and which he had confident the sphere general practitioner to save—would must be amputated. At Gayoso, Anna Annis was once seriously sedated and handled for surprise and burns; she fell asleep whereas begging for information approximately her relations. J. Walter Elliott went with “Susan” to the telegraph workplace, the place he gave his right identify, rank, and infantry department. It was once the 1st time he had given his actual id on the grounds that his trap, and, as he famous, “a Cincinnati paper released it so subsequent day. ” therefore he was once indexed as a survivor, whereas his assumed identify used to be indexed one of the misplaced. by way of early afternoon, the hunt for survivors used to be referred to as off, even though our bodies persevered to show up for weeks, a few as a long way downriver as Vicksburg. between them used to be a dark-skinned soldier donning a horsehair bracelet, and a red-haired guy with an eagle tattooed on his arm, neither of whom was once ever pointed out. many of the our bodies have been by no means retrieved. within the confusion of the aftermath, Romulus Tolbert’s homeland newspaper said that he and his good friend John Maddox were killed. in reality, Tolbert used to be despatched to Adams sanatorium, the place he used to be taken care of for chills. Maddox ended up on the Memphis infantrymen domestic. bankruptcy 13 IN A useless MAN’S POCKET one of the squaddies’ JOURNALS THAT SURVIVED THE catastrophe, John Clark Ely’s is among the few that surround the whole spectrum of events—the battle, camp existence, imprisonment, and eventually the doomed voyage upriver from Memphis. so much diaries have been misplaced through the catastrophe. John Clark Ely’s survived, waterlogged. Ely didn't. earlier than the warfare, Ely taught writing at school in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, the place he lived along with his spouse, Julia, and their 4 young ones. He was once good-looking, with an entire darkish beard, and, judging from a surviving photograph, beloved to put on his kepi cocked jauntily to 1 aspect. After the catastrophe, all that survived of his lifestyles have been the moments he had recorded—the prelude. He was once an orderly sergeant within the one hundred and fifteenth Ohio infantry ahead of being captured close to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in December 1864 and despatched to Andersonville, and then he used to be promoted to lieutenant in absentia. what's so much extraordinary approximately his magazine, other than the very fact of its survival, is the similarity of a lot of his debts, even if he was once a soldier or a prisoner. They illustrate the maxim: “Wherever you cross, there you're. ” As he inched towards his doom he wrote as a rule of appearing “usual tasks” in military camp—distributing rations, development and repairing shelters, writing and interpreting letters, slicing firewood, and taking part in drills.

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