Dates: Friday and Saturday, April 27th and 28th–Mark your calendars!!
Since we try to pick a date each year closest to April 27th, the anniversary of the Sultana disaster, it was only logical to chose this weekend since April 27th falls on a Friday!
Location: Selma, AL. (closest town to Cahaba)
Selma is the nearest town to the Cahaba prison site, (officially known as Castle Morgan), only a 14 mile drive away. Cahaba is the last primary location having a direct connection to the Sultana story that we have not visited. Many of you had a Union ancestor imprisoned there, especially the 3rd Tenn. Cavalry from the Knoxville area.
Even though the prison itself no longer exists, the foundation can still be seen that emphasizes how small the structure was to hold over 3,000 men! The prison site is part of the Old Cahawba Archaeological Park created by the state of Alabama to preserve the remaining structures of the first capital of the state (Visit its web site at www.cahawba.com).
Also, a battle was fought at Selma on April 2, 1865, during the last days of the Civil War. To show how bad matters had gotten for the South, cavalry hero Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest was placed in charge of the defenses that ringed Selma. However, it did not take Union General Wilson’s cavalry forces long to break through and capture the town, an important military manufacturing center and arsenal.
We will spent the morning touring Cahaba, with an emphasis on telling the story of the Union prisoners. Site Director, Linda Derry, will be our tour guide (she gave an excellent PowerPoint presentation at this year’s Franklin reunion!). Hopefully, we will see most of the following sites:
Old Cahawba Archaeological Park
St. Luke’s Church and Artesian Well
Site of “Castle Morgan”
Crocheron Columns–where generals Wilson and Forrest had dinner after the Battle of Selma
Barker Slave Quarters (1860)
Cahawba’s Burial Ground
Fambro House (ca. 1841)
Methodist Episcopal Church Ruins (ca. 1848)
Perine Well (ca. 1852)
Face Well (ca. 1852)
Old Capital Cemetery & Civil War Memorials
After lunch, we will tour the sites that remain from the Battle of Selma, a few CW stops of interest in Selma, such as the Confederate portion of the city’s cemetery, and one beautiful antebellum mansion, Sturdivant Hall (visit http://www.ruralswalabama.org/ )
A few weeks after our Knoxville 2016 reunion, I drove down to Selma/Cahaba to scout everything out to determine if there were enough places to visit and things to do to hold a reunion there. I returned home convinced there’s plenty to keep us busy for two days as you can see from what I wrote above.
If you’ve never visited a town in the deep South, here’s your opportunity! It’s a long trip for many, including me, but keep in mind that Selma is about the same distance into the South as Vicksburg, MS, where we held three successful reunions, and Americus, GA, that’s only a few miles from Andersonville Prison!
Of interest, Selma was not only important during the CW, it’s also notable for a Civil Rights event when the first Selma to Montgomery march was turned back by state troopers after the marchers had crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge (named after a Confederate general). Near the bridge is the National Voters Right Museum and Institute (visit http://nvrmi.com/) that one can visit prior to or following our Sultana reunion.
Lastly, Alabama will be celebrating its 200th year anniversary of acceptance into the Union! Our 2018 reunion will be recognized as part of that three-year celebration (2017-2019), so we will get some great publicity!
Come join us in Selma/Cahaba for our 31st annual Sultana reunion!
Norman Shaw, Founder
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