Loss of the Sultana and Reminiscences of Survivors
Originally published in 1892, Loss of the Sultana and Reminiscences of Survivors is a collection of first-hand accounts by those who lived to tell the story of perhaps the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. On the Mississippi River just above Memphis at two o’clock on the morning of April 27, 1865, the steamboat Sultana, carrying over 2,400 passengers (it was licensed to carry only 356), exploded and sank. Over 1,700 people perished. Most of the passengers were Union soldiers recently released from Confederate prisons. Many were from East Tennessee. They had boarded at Vicksburg, where the longest siege of the war had finally ended in Confederate surrender, ending the Vicksburg campaign. The soldiers, homeward bound from Andersonville and Cahaba Confederate prisons, had survived the terrors of battle, the loss of close comrades, physical and psychological wounds, the risky confinement of hospital, the humiliation of capture and surrender, escape and recapture, homesickness, boredom, the daily threat of death by starvation, disease, suicide, robbery, injury, or death by raiders. Chester D. Berry-one of the survivors-compiled facts, records, and personal accounts of other survivors, resulting in this compelling and profound testimony to the human spirit in the face of tragedy.