Historical Society hosts Cahaba Prison, Sultana Disaster presentation

Published 11:34 am Sunday, August 6, 2023

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The Butler County Historical & Genealogical Society welcomed member Mollie Waters as speaker on July 30. Waters gave an informative and detailed presentation about Cahaba Prison and the Sultana Disaster. Also known as Castle Morgan, the Cahaba Prison was a prisoner of war camp for more than 3,000 Union Soldiers in Dallas County. Linda Derry, site director of Old Cahawba Archaeological Park, was a special guest at the meeting.

Waters explained that many of the prisoners previously held at Cahaba boarded the Sultana at Vicksburg, Mississippi in April 1865, longing to get home as quickly as possible. Grossly overcrowded, the ship exploded a few days into the journey, and nearly 1,800 men perished. This event is the deadliest maritime disaster in U.S. history.

Particularly interesting were Waters’ narratives of the accounts given by former Cahaba prisoners and survivors of the Sultana Disaster. To complete her presentation, Waters dressed in period costume. A Roads Scholar, writer and cemetery tour guide, Waters is an instructor at LBW Community College in Greenville. Photo provided by the Butler County Historical & Genealogical Society.

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