“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Vicksburg in Warren County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)

Speed Town


— Vicksburg Heritage Walking Trail —

Speed Town Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, March 23, 2018
1. Speed Town Marker
Inscription.  In 1881 Frederick Speed and Thomas Foster purchased the 210-acre Lonewood Plantation in this area. They divided the land into lots that sold for about $600 each. Both partners wanted to name the newly formed town after the other. The final decision came from a coin toss; Foster won the toss and the town of Speeds was born. In 1905 when the City of Vicksburg promised to provide the citizens of Speeds with power, water, sewer, and public transportation, they agreed and were annexed by Vicksburg.

The Sultana - Costly Mistake
In 1865 Frederick Speed, then a captain in the Union Army, was helping with the process to return former imprisoned Union soldiers home after they arrived in Vicksburg by train. The Sultana docked in Vicksburg with a cracked boiler that was still being repaired as the Union soldiers boarded the vessel. Part of Speed's task was to keep up with the number of soldiers placed on each steamboat. Some confusion occurred and the Sultana ended up overcrowded with about 2,331 people on board. Just north of Memphis, Tennessee boilers on the Sultana exploded killing around 1,000 people. The
The Sultana - Mississippi River side-wheel steamboat. image. Click for full size.
Public domain (US-PD), April 26, 1865
2. The Sultana - Mississippi River side-wheel steamboat.
Tintype of the Sultana taken at Helena, Arkansas, on April 26, 1865, a day before she was destroyed. The view captures a large crowd of paroled Union prisoners packed tightly together on the steamboat's decks.
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explosion survivors struggled to save themselves in the frigid Mississippi River. The Sultana disaster claimed 1,800 lives and remains one of the deadliest maritime accidents in history. The death toll was even greater than the Titanic which sank in 1912 killing 1,517 people.

Guilty or Not
Captain Speed was charged for overcrowding the Sultana and pled "Not Guilty". Six months later, after legal issues and major witnesses ignoring their military subpoenas, Speed was court-martialed. Later Speed was cleared of all charges and the court-martial overturned by the Judge-Advocate General arguing the Sultana may have been "overcrowded" but was not "overloaded" and the passengers met their doom because of the explosion.

Simple Math
During the time of the Sultana disaster, cotton bails weighted about 400 pounds each. 7,818 bales of cotton weights over 3.1 million pounds. If the 2,331 passengers on the Sultana weighed 200 pounds each, the load would have been 466,200 pounds. The Sultana was not near its capacity when the disaster occurred.

Photo caption
Steamboat Chas. P. Chouteau, at Natchez, Mississippi, loaded with 7,818 bales of cotton, December 1878.
Erected 2018 by the City of Vicksburg. (Marker Number 32.)
Topics and series.
Speed Town Marker at corner of Drummond and Speed Streets. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, March 23, 2018
3. Speed Town Marker at corner of Drummond and Speed Streets.
This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Settlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi, Vicksburg Heritage Walking Trail series list. A significant historical month for this entry is December 1878.
Location. 32° 20.223′ N, 90° 52.839′ W. Marker is in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in Warren County. Marker is at the intersection of Drummond Street and Speed Street, on the right when traveling south on Drummond Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2322 Drummond Street, Vicksburg MS 39180, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Magnolia High School (approx. 0.2 miles away); Marcus Bottom (approx. 0.2 miles away); Apple Orchard (approx. 0.2 miles away); Blue Roof (approx. Ό mile away); Vicksburg Garden Club (approx. 0.3 miles away); President Dwight Eisenhower (approx. 0.3 miles away); Alpha Kappa Alpha National Presidents (approx. 0.3 miles away); Lum Home (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Vicksburg.
Also see . . .  Wikipedia article on the Sultana. (Submitted on March 27, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on March 27, 2018. It was originally submitted on March 27, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 172 times since then and 49 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on March 27, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Sep. 24, 2022