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Who do we remember in the Sultana disaster?

In the last post, the question was asked, "Why do we remember the Sultana?" In this entry, I'd like to concentrate on who we are remembering.

Naturally, our first thoughts center on those on board the boat. These were mainly Union soldiers, recently released after being held in Confederate prisons for as long as two years at Andersonville, Georgia and Cahaba, Alabama. Many of these men had survived the horrors of war and the cruelty of captivity. Their thoughts turned toward home as they headed north on the Mississippi River from Vicksburg to their ultimate destination of Camp Chase in Ohio to be mustered out. Also traveling on the Sultana were as many as 100 civilian passengers, a number of them women and children. The boat's crew numbered 85. Each person had his or her unique life story to tell. For almost half of them, the story ended in the early morning hours of April 27, 1865.

Reunion of Sultana survivors around 1890

Reunion of Sultana survivors around 1890

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Why do we remember the Sultana disaster?

In a little less than two months, the 153rd anniversary of the greatest maritime disaster in U.S. history will be commemorated. On April 27, 1865, at approximately 2:00 a.m., the side-wheel steamboat Sultana experienced catastrophic boiler failure while traveling north on the Mississippi River, just above Memphis, Tennessee. In the blink of an eye, the lives of approximately 2,400 persons were changed drastically, many for eternity.

Gene Salecker and model of the Sultana

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