Disaster on the Mississippi: The Sultana Explosion, April 27, 1865

Front Cover
Naval Institute Press, Jan 1, 1996 - Transportation - 346 pages
At two o'clock in the morning on 27 April 1865, seven miles north of Memphis on the Mississippi, the boilers of the sidewheel steamboat Sultana suddenly exploded. Legally registered to carry 376 people, the boat was packed with 2,100 recently released Union prisoners of war. More than 1,700 people died, making it the worst marine disaster in U.S. history.
To focus on the personal stories of the victims, both civilian and soldier, Gene Eric Salecker patiently collected material from hundreds of letters, period newspaper stories, and other sources. Readers are first introduced to the individuals involved while they are languishing in Confederate prisons and follow their release to an exchange camp outside Vicksburg and their eventual crowding onto the Sultana.
The author's knowledgeable narrative is interwoven with personal reminiscences, including those of the heroic rescuers. He offers unprecedented details about the captain's handling of the steamboat and corrects some long-held myths about the placement of the soldiers on the Sultana and newspaper coverage of the disaster.
A large portion of the book covers rescue attempts, both successful and failed, and the aftermath of the disaster as it affected those involved. With its emphasis on the human-interest aspect of the Sultana's loss, this book brings to the literature a critical point of view and much new research.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Unkletom - LibraryThing

Gene has written an excellent book about the worst freshwater maritime disaster in history. The explosion and sinking of the Riverboat Sultana rivals the Titanic in the sheer scope of the tragedy but ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Sullywriter - LibraryThing

A clear, concise, detailed account of the tragedy. Read full review


Delivered from Bondage
Greed and Deception
The Overcrowding

10 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1996)

Gene Eric Salecker is a retired university police officer and middle school social studies teacher, currently working as an author, substitute teacher, and consultant for the "Sultana" Disaster Museum in Marion, Arkansas. He is married and lives in the Chicago area with his wife and pets.

Bibliographic information