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SS Sultana

Worse than SS Titanic, SS Sultana was a Mississippi River steamboat paddlewheeler that exploded on April 27, 1865 in the greatest maritime disaster in United States history. An estimated 1,600 of Sultana's 2,400 passengers were killed when three of the ship's four boilers exploded and Sultana sank near Memphis, Tennessee. This disaster was overshadowed in the press by other recent events. President Lincoln's assassin, was killed the day before. The previous week ended the Civil War.
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Photograph of Jesse M. Huffaker, Co. D, 3rd US Cavalry

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Sultana Disaster Memorial to the Sultana Disaster in Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee. On 27 April 1865 the SS Sultana exploded just north of Memphis, Tennessee on the Mississippi River. Of the 2400 people onboard, 1700 died. Most of the passengers were newly freed Union POWs heading home. At 2am the boilers exploded.

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The 376 passenger vessel loaded over 2,200 people on board who were eager to get home after the fighting. A multiple boiler explosion killed an estimated 1,800 passengers and crew after midnight in the icy Mississippi River near Memphis TN in the Spring of 1865. 75 men from the Michigan 18th Infantry organized in Hillsdale Michigan lost their lives on this night.

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The SS Sultana, a Mississippi River paddlewheel steamboat, packed with 2,400 passengers, left Memphis and headed north.  Most of the passengers were union troops who had just been released from duty and were headed home.  The capacity of the ship was 376.  This severe overcrowding made the vessel top heavy and unstable.

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Lyrics of Love and Lore: Sultana

lyricsofloveandlore.blogspot.com

Captain J. Walter Elliott, Wabash College Class of 1858, survived the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville only to witness the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history aboard the S.S. Sultana.

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Wabash College: Magazine Crawfordsville, Indiana

wabash.edu

SS Sultana, a steamship that regularly traveled from St. Louis to New Orleans, was commissioned by the war department to transport just-released Union prisoners of war back home. The ship was legally registered to carry a maximum of less than 400 people, but with the government paying $5 per soldier, 2,300 soldiers were packed in so tightly that they could barely stand. At 2 a.m., April 27, three of the ship’s boilers exploded sending passenger, most of who couldn't swim to their deaths.

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Ann Annis - Notable Women Ancestors

rootsweb.ancestry.com

Caleb Rule was 24 years old at the time of the sinking of the Sultana. He survived due to being a great swimmer and lived to become a preacher at several churches in Sevier and Blount counties. He lived to the age of 72. His 20 year old brother John who could not swim drown in the icey waters and his body was never found.

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Photograph of dedication of USS Sultana monument in Knoxville's Mount Olive Baptist Church burial ground on July 4, 1916, on the occasion of the 3rd U.S. Cavalry reunion

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Survivors of the SS Sultana

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Tony Keeble

There is a monument on the grounds of the Hillsdale County Courthouse in Hillsdale Michigan that remembers the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history and it's link to Hillsdale. The S.S. Sultana was a steam ship that was bringing soldiers home at the end of the American Civil War.

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