ECW is pleased to welcome a contribution today from Curt Fields, Ph.D., the nation’s foremost Ulysses S. Grant living historian. Chris Mackowski’s post about the Sultana on April 27—the 155th anniversary of its sinking—prompted Curt to pass along a few Sultana-related photos from closer to the scene of the incident. The steamboat exploded just north of Memphis, where Curt lives.
I am enclosing a photo of the Sultana monument in Elmwood cemetery in Memphis, where some of the unknown dead from the incident are buried. Note that the boat on the marker is a stern-wheeler, while the Sultana was a side-wheeler.
The marker is on the Mississippi river bank near where the Sultana left Memphis. I was there as Grant for the unveiling of it. Jerry Potter is with me, and I enclose a photo of his book (see bottom):
The model and staff photo are from the Sultana Museum in Marion, Arkansas, just across the river from Memphis:
Today, the Sultana is under a corn field not far from the museum.
The sinking of the Sultana was the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. Here are a few quick facts about the tragedy, compared against the Titanic for reference, taken from the Sultana museum.