The forgotten Sultana

Aug 2018
638
Southern Indiana
I am shocked that the story of the Sultana is virtually forgotten to history, even the Maritime Disasters page of Wikipedia fails to mention it despite it being the worst maritime disaster in US history. The steamboat Sultana, built in 1863 was tasked in transporting Union troops just released from prisoner of war camps North along the Mississippi River. On April 27th, 1865, the Sultana's boilers exploded while carrying well over 2000 troops and about 200 civilians and crew. The boat was grossly overloaded. The captain intentionally packed the boat beyond it's capacity as he was given the equivalent of $70 a passenger and was heavily in debt at the time. He bribed military officials to allow him to pack the boat so full that the soldiers did not even have room to lay down. At 2am, the ship exploded just north of Memphis. 1, 168 people are thought to have died although the exact number is not known. Many of the soldiers were weak and sick from their captivity, those who did not die in the explosion and fire, drowned in the icy water. Bodies were found for months. The fact that Lincoln was assassinated the day prior to the disaster overshadowed the event. No one was ever held responsible for the disaster. Sultana.jpg
 
Nov 2016
1,598
Germany
There are a new documentary film and some videos about that tragedy.

(J.C. Mason, captain of the Sultana)
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About director Mark Marshall:

A native Oklahoman, Mark Marshall began his career in 1978 when he joined Lucasfilm Ltd., serving as production assistant on "More American Graffiti," "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark," directed by Steven Spielberg. In 1984, he joined Amblin Entertainment as personal assistant to Mr. Spielberg. During that time, Marshall assisted on a varied slate of projects including "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," "The Goonies," "The Color Purple," "Empire of the Sun," and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" as well as Spielberg's television series, "Amazing Stories."
(...)
After years of research and development, Marshall is set to begin work on a project he has long been passionate about: "Sultana." Along with "Supernatural" co-executive producer Jim Michaels and actor Sean Astin (who will also serve as narrator), Marshall is producing a full-length documentary about the little-known but needs-to-be-told Sultana Disaster that occurred at the close of the Civil War.


Docu trailer:



 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,688
There are questions that it may have been Confederate sabotage. There were explosive devices that could be made to look like lumps of coal. The war was over, but the sabotage could have been committed earlier or someone bitter could have gone ahead with it anyway.
 
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Jun 2019
49
USA
Or the General Slocum, a sidewheel ferry, where over a thousand Men, Women and Children burned or drowned of the 1400 aboard when that ship went on fire off Long Island in 1904.

Only the Sultana had a higher marine death toll
 
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Nov 2016
1,598
Germany
Only the Sultana had a higher marine death toll
There have also been other civil ship disasters with high casualty figures.

The Titanic disaster caused over 1,500 casualties.


Spice Islander I was a 836 GRT Ro-Ro ferry which was built in Greece in 1967 as Marianna. She was renamed Apostolos P following a sale in 1988. She was sold to a Honduran company in 2007 and renamed Spice Islander I. On 10 September 2011, she sank resulting in the deaths of 1,573 people; many of whom were never recovered.


SS Kiangya or Jiangya (Chinese: t 江亞輪, s 江亚轮, p Jiāngyà Lún) was a Chinese passenger steamship that was destroyed in an explosion near the mouth of the Huangpu River 50 miles (80 km) north of Shanghai on 3 or 4 December 1948.
(...)
She was packed with refugees fleeing the advancing Communists. She probably hit a mine, possibly laid by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Second World War. The exact death toll is unknown. Although her official capacity was 1,186 passengers, the manifest listed 2,150 and she was almost certainly carrying many additional stowaways. Rescuers were unaware of the disaster for some hours. It is thought that between 2,750 and 3,920 died,[1] with 700 survivors being picked up by other vessels.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,688
Someone could have put a coal bomb in the coal pile when the war was still on. It was leaving occupied southern territory.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,028
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
There have also been other civil ship disasters with high casualty figures.

The Titanic disaster caused over 1,500 casualties.


Spice Islander I was a 836 GRT Ro-Ro ferry which was built in Greece in 1967 as Marianna. She was renamed Apostolos P following a sale in 1988. She was sold to a Honduran company in 2007 and renamed Spice Islander I. On 10 September 2011, she sank resulting in the deaths of 1,573 people; many of whom were never recovered.


SS Kiangya or Jiangya (Chinese: t 江亞輪, s 江亚轮, p Jiāngyà Lún) was a Chinese passenger steamship that was destroyed in an explosion near the mouth of the Huangpu River 50 miles (80 km) north of Shanghai on 3 or 4 December 1948.
(...)
She was packed with refugees fleeing the advancing Communists. She probably hit a mine, possibly laid by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Second World War. The exact death toll is unknown. Although her official capacity was 1,186 passengers, the manifest listed 2,150 and she was almost certainly carrying many additional stowaways. Rescuers were unaware of the disaster for some hours. It is thought that between 2,750 and 3,920 died,[1] with 700 survivors being picked up by other vessels.
1,863 persons died in the MV La Joola sinking 26 september 2002, les than 18 years ago. MV Le Joola - Wikipedia - List of accidents and disasters by death toll - Wikipedia

The greatest number of deaths in a sinking was during wartime, about 9,000 on MV Wilhelm Gustloff 30 January 1945. MV Wilhelm Gustloff - Wikipedia - List of battles and other violent events by death toll - Wikipedia
 
Aug 2018
638
Southern Indiana
Someone could have put a coal bomb in the coal pile when the war was still on. It was leaving occupied southern territory.
According to what I read , the main boiler had a bulge in it before it began it’s journey. The captain did not want to spend a couple days repairing it for fear of other boats getting the men so it was patched instead of repaired properly.
 
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