Old Cahawba offers Civil War Walking Tour around park

Published 6:44 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Old Cahawba is once again offering guests the opportunity to step back in time by participating in a Civil War walking tour of the park April 1.

“It’s a good way to explore and find out something new about Old Cahawba,” said Linda Derry, site director. “We hope that we’ll have a really nice day, and we’ll be able to get outside and get a little bit of history while we explore a beautiful place.”

The tour will focus on the impact that the Civil War, including the Battle of Selma, had on Cahawba and its people during that time.

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Nearing the end of the war, water from the Cahaba and Alabama rivers pushed over the river bank and across the town of Cahawba leaving more than 3,000 Union Army prisoners standing for days in knee deep water at Castle Morgan, the prisoner camp at Old Cahawba.

After the prisoners were released, many of them made their way to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and boarded the riverboat Sultana where they were all soon killed.

“The men that were here were going home and they were put aboard the Sultana and it blew up and it is the largest maritime disaster in U.S. History,” Derry said. “We’re going to discover the remains of the prison. We’ll walk over and see if we can find the walls and different aspects of the prison … and get the feeling of the space.”

Derry said the tour will also take people around the park to see other places that had a significance during the war.

“We’ll also be talking about the home front during the Civil War,” Derry said. “We’ll be visiting sites associated with things that happened with the people that remained in town instead of going off to war.”

Derry said last time she led the tour, she had people to drive down from northern states to participate and learn about their ancestors.

“The last time I gave the tour, we had several decedents that showed up, that were descendants of men that had been captive here,” Derry said.

“That was great fun to hear about their ancestors and for them to see the places where their ancestors walked.”

Derry said the tour can change each time, depending on who comes and what they are most interested in.

“We just adapt the tour as we go based on the interest of the people that will be here,” she said. “You never know where the tour is going to go or end up. But it’s always fun and we learn lots of interesting things.”

The tour will be held April 1 from 10-11 a.m.

The cost is $8 per person and Derry asked that guests arrive at least 10 minutes early to sign in and get ready for the walk.

She also suggests to dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes for walking.