Civil War Sabotage?
When the SS Sultana exploded on April 27, 1865, more than 1,800 died —outnumbering the death toll from the Titanic disaster. Why, then, do so few people know about one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history? And what caused the explosion that took so many lives?
The Civil War was finally over, and most of the passengers aboard that night were Union soldiers returning to their families from Confederate prison camps. But the number of people on board far exceeded the ship’s capacity—they barely had room to stand.
At 2:00 a.m. a mysterious explosion below deck set the Sultana ablaze and catapulted passengers into the frigid Mississippi.
Can the History Detectives solve the mysterious explosion of the SS Sultana? Was it an act of Confederate sabotage? Faulty machinery? Dangerous conditions?
Meeting with descendants of rebel boat burners and Sultana survivors, uncovering government records, and hunting for the wreck site, the team reveals a tale of incompetence, bribery, politics and nepotism that leads all the way to President Lincoln and the White House.
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- Also in Civil War: 1850-1877 Whaling Ship Might a ship docked in Mystic Seaport, hold secrets to the Underground Railroad?
- Related Investigation Civil War POW Photos Were these pictures made in a Civil War prison with a home-made camera?
- Related Investigation John Brown Pike How did this metal blade spark violent tension between the North and the South?
- Also with Tukufu Zuberi Lost Musical Treasure Are these fragments of a lost moment in American musical history?
- Also with Wes Cowan George Washington Miniature Did the artist paint this portrait from life, and what is its surprising connection to the abolitionist White Matlack?
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