April 27th marked the 154th anniversary of the devastating explosion of the Sultana on the Mississippi near Memphis which took the lives of over 1,500 people – mostly weak and sickly Union prisoners of war who had made their way to the river from the horrific prisons like Andersonville and Cahaba in the deep south to come home.
There are several really good books out there about the disaster – one being Sultana: Surving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History by Alan Huffman (2009) and Disaster on the Mississippi: The Sultana Explosion, April 27, 1865 by Gene Eric Salecker.
There were many Ohio soldiers on the Sultana when it exploded. If you are not familiar with this story (which even at the time of the event was overshadowed in the national news to coverage of Lincoln’s funeral and the capture and death of his murderer, John Wilkes Booth, you should read up on it. It’s a horrific event spurred by greed and government inefficiency.