April 27, 1865

The Nation’s worst maritime disaster happened on the Mississippi a fair piece south of Cape Girardeau. Prisoners from Andersonville and soldiers returning to Jefferson Barracks for discharge were on board the steamboat Sultana when it blew up. About 1,800 died.  Read more about this in Tales From Missouri and the Heartland. Even though this was America’s worst maritime disaster, most people don’t know about it.  The reason? At the time this happened the entire nation was absorbed in the news of Lincoln’s assassination and the hunt for conspirators. The newspapers paid little attention to Sultana’s explosion and sinking.

This post was contributed by Ross Malone. A historian and a retired school teacher, Ross has authored many books about Missouri’s history, weird facts, and folk tales. He has also written children’s historical fiction. Visit his website, and buy his books in the Missouri Life store.