Memphis Vice, 1863: Sex for Sale and the Scandal that Rocked a Civil War City

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They called them “Cyprians,” “Frail Daughters of Eve,” “Bawds,” and “Prostitutes,” and they were a powerful force in the vice world of Civil War Memphis. Their forbidden allure led to the court martial of a colonel, the dismissal of a lieutenant, the fall of several United States detectives, and a growing epidemic of venereal disease that left Army officials scratching their heads in search of a solution.

Their answer: force the “Frail Daughters” out of business.

But some “bawds” such as Kate Stoner, the tenacious madam of a popular resort on Beale Street, simply turned their backs on the military edict and refused to close their doors. Business boomed until Stoner’s Aldrich House became the center of an epic scandal in July 1863.

Follow Detective William Cherry as he goes deep under the covers of the Aldrich House to gather evidence. Peek behind the closed doors of Stoner’s bordello, eavesdrop on the raid, follow the trial that left everyone blushing, and ponder the aftermath in this stranger-than-fiction tale of love, lust, and salaciousness along the Mississippi during the turbulent third year of the Civil War.

Using court martial documents, trial transcripts, and newspaper articles, true crime historian Tobin T. Buhk pulls back the sheets to uncover the naked truth about this fascinating moment in American history.

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