Sinking the Sultana

Sinking the Sultana

A Civil War Story of Imprisonment, Greed, and A Doomed Journey Home

Book - 2017
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The worst maritime disaster in American history wasn t the Titanic. It was the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River and it could have been prevented.
Publisher: Somerville, Massachusetts :, Candlewick Press,, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780763677558
Characteristics: 196 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Oct 26, 2017

I received this ARC via LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

In the wee hours of the morning of April 27, 1865, having just left Memphis, the steamboat Sultana was steadily making its way upstream on the Mississippi River when one of its boilers exploded. As the rest of the steamboat caught fire and sank, more than 1,100 people lost their lives, making it the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. What caused the boiler to explode? Was there sabotage? Why was the Sultana carrying 2,155 people, when its legal capacity for passengers was 376? Who was responsible?

Although the primary focus is on the disaster itself, learning more about the Civil War, the POW camps, how steamboats work, and the personal stories of a number of the Sultana's passengers made for a very readable, compelling, well-rounded tale. One detail I found especially interesting was that despite the Tennessee government having declared for the South during the war, the state sent 31,000 soldiers to fight for the Union. I also appreciated learning a little about the prison camp at Andersonville, where one of my own ancestors perished as a POW in 1864. Recommended for kids fascinated by the Titanic and other types of disasters.


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