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.
- Also with Wes Cowan Pretty Boy Floyd's Gun Did this vintage Colt handgun belong to the outlaw Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd?
- Related Investigation Face Jug What does this ceramic face reveal about the Middle Passage and a captive people’s search for identity?
- Also with Tukufu Zuberi Transatlantic Cable How did this twisted fragment of metal spark a communications revolution?
- Related Investigation Civil War Letters What can these letters reveal about a racially-charged massacre on a Civil War battlefield?
- Also in Civil War: 1850-1877 Lincoln Forgery Could this piece of sheet music have come from Abraham Lincoln's private collection?
- Also with Tukufu Zuberi Seadrome Did floating airports dot the Atlantic before modern air travel?
This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.