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American history
Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History
 
 
Author
Alan Huffman.
Publisher Harper  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 8 x 5.25 x 0.8 inches
ISBN 9780061470561
Pages/Publication Date 300/2010
Daedalus Item Code 31186
This item is not available.
Description
In April 1865, the steamboat Sultana slowly moved up the Mississippi River, straining with the weight of 2400 passengers, most of them Union soldiers paroled from Confederate prison camps. At 2 a.m., three of Sultana's four boilers exploded, and within 20 minutes the boat sank in flames with 1700 still aboard. Alan Huffman's stunning account of human endurance and adventure follows several young Union soldiers through the Civil War and what was, for them, its unimaginably disastrous aftermath. They are enlisted and then plunged into a cascading series of horrors—battle at Chickamauga and with Sherman through the Deep South, capture and interment at Andersonville and Cahaba, and finally, the sinking of the steamboat that was taking them home.

"The explosion and wreck of the Mississippi riverboat Sultana ... is but the capstone of this engrossing survey of the many varieties of suffering in the Civil War. Journalist Huffman doesn't even get aboard the Sultana until the last third of the saga. Before that, he fills in the backstories of four Yankee survivors as they fight in the battle of Chickamauga, go raiding with Sherman's cavalry and finally get captured and sent to the infamous Southern prison camps at Andersonville, Ga., and Cahaba, Ala. There they endure the torments of starvation, exposure, festering and maggoty wounds, predatory criminal gangs, lice and diarrhea—a scourge, Huffman notes, that was far deadlier to soldiers than bullets. Making skillful use of war diaries and memoirs, the author makes these quieter ordeals just as moving as the Sultana's doomed voyage, with its hellish scene of hundreds of screaming people being burned alive or drowning each other in panic. Huffman fits the climactic disaster into a meticulously researched, harrowing look at the sorrow and the pity that was the Civil War."—Publishers Weekly

 
 
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