One of the reasons the 79th New York Cameron Highlanders were so short-handed in Fort Sanders was that a good part of what the war had left of their unit—in journeying from Vicksburg to Knoxville—had gone AWOL: deciding to sit out the war for a while in the brothels of Louisville, KY.
Some of whose Cyprians (as prostitutes were politely called in the media of those days, after the worshipers of Aphrodite) were shipped there on a train by Union officers trying to relieve an excess of their profession in Nashville, TN. That worked, for a while, until many of the ladies got homesick and found their way back to Nashville.
So the Union, ever persistent, loaded 150 or so on the steamboat Idahoe and tried again. This time, however, the Louisville authorities weren’t so gracious. They succeeded in keeping most of the women from getting off the boat, according to Thomas Power Lowry’s book The Stories The Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex In The Civil War.
Those who stayed aboard moved on with the Idahoe to Cincinnati, OH. Meanwhile, the captain of the Idahoe complained bitterly that his boat would never live down its reputation as “a floating whore house.”
Lowry’s book is fascinating — thanks for bringing it to attention.
You bet. Somebody brought it to mine, I forget who. This one is only about prostitution and how common it was throughout the states, North and South, despite history’s alleged prudishness of the populace.
Lowry also wrote another, self-published, book which Amazon also sells called “Sexual Misbehavior In The Civil War” about rape, homosexuality (which was then “misbehavior” in official and court records), even bestiality and other unsavory issues. It says in its blurb that Union soldiers’ rape of slave women was common, and Reb authorities did not prosecute soldier rape, whether of blacks or whites.
Unfortunately, Google Books doesn’t preview it and there’s no Look Inside on the Amazon sales page, so you’d have to buy it blind.