Civil War Pictures
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Robert E. Lee Portrait
THE LAST EXCHANGE.
CAMP FISK, FOUR MILE BRIDGE (VICKSBURG), APRIL. 1865
At the close of the war, Camp
Fisk was established near Vicksburg for the general ex-change 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 during 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 some 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 water to a width of 50 miles. But
few of the ill-fated Union soldiers managed to save their lives. About 1,900 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 as Helena.
SULTANA, HELENA, ARKANSAS, APRIL 27, 1865