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Steamboat Sultana

The steamboat Sultana, a Mississippi River side-wheel boat, was destroyed in an boiler explosion and fire on April 27, 1865, not far upstream of Memphis, Tennessee.. The majority of the passengers, an estimated 1,700 out of 2,400, died either in the explosion, in the resultant fire or in the cold, flooded Mississippi River. It remains the greatest maritime disaster in United States history.  This disaster was less noticed than it might have been, however, because of the recent assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the end of the Civil War.

Material related to the Sultana:

  • Images of the Sultana
  • Loss of the Sultana - With biographical sketches of men from Henry County, Indiana, who were on board. The Steamer Sultana was built at Cincinnati, Ohio, January, 1863, and was registered at 1,719 tons. She was a regular St. Louis and New Orleans packet, and left the latter port on her fatal trip, April 21, 1865, arriving at Vicksburg, Mississippi, with about two hundred passengers and crew on board. She remained there little more than one day, repairing one of her boilers and receiving on board 1,965 Federal soldiers and thirty five officers, just released from the Confederate prisons at Cahaba, Alabama, Macon and Andersonville, Georgia, and belonging to the States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee and West Virginia. Besides these, there were two companies of infantry, under arms, making a grand total of 2,300 souls on board. There were also a number of horses and mules and over one hundred hogsheads of sugar, the latter being in the hold of the boat and serving as ballast. --more--
  • Disaster of the Sultana - by J. J. Witzig, Supervising Inspector of Steamboats: This is perhaps the most frightful disaster ever recorded in the annals of steam navigation. It is stated that over fifteen hundred (1,500) lives were lost...
  • Burning of Sultana - The burning of the splendid steamer, Sultana, is connected with the history of the Seventh Indiana Cavalry, because at the time of that terrible disaster, there were aboard of her, and lost in the calamity with hundreds of other soldiers, from thirty to forty of the members of the regiment.
  • Perils of River Navigation - A study of steamboat disasters in the 1860s demonstrates that the probable cause of the Sultana explosion was not at all uncommon.
  • Wreck of the Steamer "Sultana"  - Mcgill Family Record includes some interesting details of the disaster.



Newest Material

July 17, 2007 -  Added A Federal Railroad Adventure - "Andrews Raiders"
May 10 - Added new page Civil War Era Definitions with definitions to be added as I come across them
May 9 - Added article: Our Captured Correspndent
May 9 - Added page for Prisons and Prisoners and a page for Libby Prison
May 8 - Loss of Sultana, article and biographical sketches
May  - Images of Sultana
May 7, 2007 - Steamboat Sultana pages created