The End of the War: Camp Fisk and the Sultana

At the close of the war, Camp Fisk was established for the general exchange of prisoners captured during the operations of the armies in the West.  Here we see one of the daily meetings of the officers on both sides for this purpose.  The Federal transport Sultana was busily engaged in the spring of 1865 in carrying the released Federal soldiers from Vicksburg to the North on their way to their homes.  In the smaller picture we see her at Helena wharf loaded with the last shipment of paroled Union soldiers to the number of 2,134. The same day, April 27, 1865, she arrived at Memphis.  While steaming along 90 miles above that point, her boilers suddenly exploded and she sunk almost immediately.  During the war the levees on both sides of the river had been so demolished that all the bottom lands were inundated, and at this point were covered with with water to a width of 50 miles.  But a few of the ill-fated Union soldiers managed to save their lives.  About 1,00 of them perished.  A survivor relates that while clinging to a log with three other men, one committed suicide rather than endure the agony caused by the icy water.  At Memphis the Federal authorities gathered all the floating bodies they could.  Many were found as far below the scene of the disaster at Helena.

Miller, Francis Trevelyan, The Photographic History of the Civil War - The Opening Battles, Castle Books, New York, 1911

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