April 27, 1865
The steamboat Sultana exploded on the Mississippi River, ten miles north of Memphis, Tennessee, killing as many as 1,800, mostly Civil War veterans. The steamboat had arrived in Vicksburg, Mississippi, from New Orleans, with boilers leaking badly, and took on some 1,996 Federal soldiers and thirty-five officers who had been released from Confederate prisons at war’s end. The load far exceeded what was safe for a steamboat of that size, and it is likely that the heavy load strained the boilers and led to the explosion. It is believed to be buried today beneath a soybean field in northeast Arkansas. In nearby Marion (Crittenden County), a historical marker pays tribute to the disaster.