A SULTANA STORY
(Historical Fiction/Romantic Adventure)
Abby was 15 when her daddy, Henry Moore, went to war. He was an officer in the Ohio Regulars of the Union Army and was one of the first to be ordered south of the Mason-Dixon line to wage battle to keep the United States from splitting into. Over the next two years he came home to his wife Betty and Abby 3 times and stayed for a week or so but then was off to fight again.
When Abby turned 18 she hadn't seen him in over a year and her momma Betty was gravely ill. Her Aunt Alice came to their house to look after her momma. Abby woke up the next morning and knew she had to go and find her daddy.
She packed a few clothes and told her sick momma and aunt that she was going to get her daddy and bring him home.
It took her over two months to make her way to Alabama. She would ask soldiers and anyone else who looked like they might know something about her daddy and would get just enough information to keep her moving in the right direction. Now that she was in Alabama she finally learned that her daddy was a Union Prisoner of the Confederates.
In a couple of weeks she learned where he was being held and took up residence in a southern plantation house as a maid near the prison. Samuel, the young man who was the son of her employers took a fancy to her and soon they were setting the woods on fire with their escapades outside of the house at night.
She had kept secret her plans for getting her daddy out of prison until one night when she and Samuel were each baring their bodies and souls to one another and she let it slip.
Expecting him to turn his back on her, walk away and never speak to her again she was astonished and surprised when he said that he loved her even more because of her courage and loyalty to her father.
They were soon married and within a few days of their marriage learned that the war was over and the prisoners were being taken to Mississippi to be loaded onto a ship and taken home on the Mississippi River. Samuel rushed to the Prison to get her daddy and bring him back home to her but when he got there he found they had already gone.
Samuel went back home and all the way back was thinking and finally knew what he had to do. When he arrived he told Abby to pack there things and they would go find her daddy even if they had to go all the way to Ohio.
They set out in a horse and buggy the next morning and in a couple of days were in Natchez Mississippi. They had learned that many of the prisoners were taking a steamship from Natchez and going home by paddle wheeling north on the Mississippi River.
Once in town, Abby stopped every soldier she saw and asked if he knew the Union Army Prisoner, Henry Moore. It didn't matter to her if he was wearing blue or gray somehow she knew one of them would help her. She must have asked over a hundred before one of 'em's eyes lit up and said that he knew her pa and that she must be his daughter Abby. He said her pa had talked about her and her ma all the time and that he could be found on one of the lower decks of the Sultana that would be leaving soon. She'd have to hurry if she wanted to see him before the ship left.
Samuel and Abby rushed to the ship only to find that she was overloaded and nobody else could board her. It took almost all the money Samuel had on him to bribe their way on board but they did it.
They found Henry Moore on a lower deck. He was weak and not in good health but not gravely ill like so many others. Abby and her daddy had a wonderful reunion and Samuel was as good a son-in-law as a man could be.
The ship was steaming north on the Mississippi River and they talked into the night about Betty and Aunt Alice, Ohio, the war, and shared dreams and plans that included grandchildren and great grandchildren
They eventually tired, Abby closed her eyes and was drifting off to sleep even as Samuel was telling Henry that he himself was tired and was about to drift off himself. It was just then that a shudder and an explosion tore the deck they were lying into bits and they all three, along with hundreds more, were thrown into the Mississippi.
Over 1700 people, mostly Union soldiers, were killed or drowned that night because of that explosion. Those who weren't thrown in by the explosion held on to what was left of the ship as she burned until they succumbed themselves by falling or leaping to escape the flames into the deep. Many of the soldiers died because they were too ill, weak or handicapped due to injuries received in the Civil War or the prison camps to gain the advantage over the cold rushing water of the Mississippi River.
Abby was saved from drowning by a black man and the next day was found in Memphis by Samuel, who had also been rescued. Her daddy, Henry Moore, was never found alive or dead.
The two of them went on their way back to their home in Alabama with plans that they would go to Ohio soon and tell Betty and Aunt Alice all about Henry's loving memories of them and the dreams and plans he'd had of a wonderful life full of love and lots of grandchildren. They decided then and there that if nothing else they would certainly do their part to have the grandchildren and make sure they all knew about their loving Grandfather Henry Moore and the love and dreams he'd had for them.
WGA Registered Number: 1484739
A Motion Picture Treatment
COPYRIGHT 2011 BY GARY REVEL
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Website Copyright 2011 by Gary Revel
in association with Jongleur Music Pictures
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
National Geographic Article/Story