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

Paperback | April 6, 2010

byAlan Huffman

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In April 1865, the steamboat Sultana slowly moved up the Mississippi River, its overtaxed engines straining under the weight of twenty-four hundred passengers—mostly Union soldiers, recently paroled from Confederate prison camps. At 2 a.m., three of Sultana's four boilers exploded. Within twenty minutes, the boat went down in flames, and an estimated seventeen hundred lives were lost.

The worst maritime disaster in American history, the sinking of the Sultana is a forgotten tragedy lost in the turmoil of the times—the war's end, the assassination of President Lincoln, the pursuit of John Wilkes Booth. Alan Huffman presents this harrowing story in gripping and vivid detail and paints a moving portrait of four individual soldiers who survived the Civil War's final hell to make it back home.

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In April 1865, the steamboat Sultana slowly moved up the Mississippi River, its overtaxed engines straining under the weight of twenty-four hundred passengers—mostly Union soldiers, recently paroled from Confederate prison camps. At 2 a.m., three of Sultana's four boilers exploded. Within twenty minutes, the boat went down in flames, a...

A partner in the political research firm Huffman & Rejebian, Alan Huffman has been a farmer; newspaper reporter; and aide to a Mississippi attorney general and a Mississippi governor. A contributor to theAtlanta Journal-Constitution, theNew York Times,Smithsonianmagazine and other publications, he is the author ofTen Point,Mississippi ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.72 inPublished:April 6, 2010Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0061470562

ISBN - 13:9780061470561

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

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Heart-Wrenching Page Turner Books that I have read on the American Civil War generally tend to focus on a few of its many facets: causes, politics, flamboyant individuals, military strategies, equipment, battles, health/medical issues, camp life, etc. This book concentrates mainly on the physical and mental anguish that were endured by Civil War soldiers, particularly those captured and sent to a POW camp. It also includes a great amount of detail on the horrible Sultana maritime disaster and its aftermath. As a vehicle, the author follows the lives of a few survivors, i.e., Union soldiers who endured the many shortcomings of camp life, were captured, suffered through - and barely survived - unspeakable horrors in POW camps, were eventually sent home weak, sick and malnourished via the grossly overcrowded steamship Sultana and somehow survived the Sultana’s explosion/destruction on a cold April night on the frigid overflowing Mississippi River. Through vivid descriptions and spellbinding narrative, the author did an excellent job in imparting to the reader at least a glimmer of what it must have been like for a human being to go through all of this within a matter of months. The writing style is clear, widely accessible, authoritative, compassionate and immensely gripping. This book can be enjoyed by anyone, especially Civil War enthusiasts and those interested in true stories of human endurance and human behaviour under unrelenting traumatic conditions.
Date published: 2010-05-11

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Editorial Reviews

Huffman rescues the Sultana tragedy from obscurity and brings the people and events surrounding it to vibrant life...[and] chronicles the explosion and its aftermath in startling detail with a wealth of striking images...A short but moving history that effectively captures both the disaster and the soldiers’ ordeal.