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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Franklin in Williamson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Battle of Franklin, Aftermath

Union POWs and the Sultana Disaster

 
 
Battle of Franklin, Aftermath Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Stahl, April 26, 2017
1. Battle of Franklin, Aftermath Marker
Inscription. More than 700 Union soldiers were made prisoners before, during, and after the Battle of Franklin. Although the war was almost over, many of them would never see their homes again. The vast majority were taken to prison camps in Cahaba, Alabama, and the infamous Andersonville stockade in Georgia. In April 1865, Confederate authorities paroled the survivors, most of whom were barefoot, sick, and malnourished. Some still suffered from wounds received at Franklin. Severe food shortages at the camps reduced several of them to less than 100 pounds (45kg). Transferred to Vicksburg, Mississippi, the soldiers filed onto steamboats for the final voyage north.

The Sultana, a wooden paddlewheel vessel with recently repaired leaky boilers, was one of the transports. It was designed to hold 376 passengers and crew, but to maximize profits and to accommodate those who were desperate to return home, officials jammed about 2,400 people on board.

On April 27, near Memphis, Tennessee, Sultana’s boilers exploded, wrecking part of the ship and tearing men apart. Within minutes, flames engulfed the decks. Countless soldiers were burned alive, some were crushed to death, and others fell into the freezing waters and drowned. Approximately 1,700 passengers—about 75 percent of those on board—perished. Many of the
Battle of Franklin, Aftermath Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Stahl, April 26, 2017
2. Battle of Franklin, Aftermath Marker
recovered bodies were buried in the Memphis National Cemetery. Among the dead were 173 soldiers captured during the Franklin Campaign. To date, the Sultana explosion is the deadliest maritime disaster in United States history.

“I saw many men mangled—some with arms and legs broken, others scalded and screaming in their agony… some crying or praying, some jumping in the water to escape from the fire and drowning.”—Pvt. Peter Roselot, 50th Ohio Infantry, survivor
 
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 35° 54.372′ N, 86° 51.613′ W. Marker is in Franklin, Tennessee, in Williamson County. Marker can be reached from Eastern Flank Circle 0.4 miles south of Lewisburg Pike (Business U.S. 431), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Located in Eastern Flank Battlefield Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1345 Eastern Flank Cir, Franklin TN 37064, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Dream Postponed (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate Reunions at McGavock's Grove (within shouting distance of this marker);
The Sultana image. Click for full size.
The Library of Congress
3. The Sultana
The Long Road to Recovery (within shouting distance of this marker); Battle of Franklin, Eastern Flank (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Franklin (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Battle of Franklin, Eastern Flank (about 300 feet away); a different marker also named Battle of Franklin, Eastern Flank (about 300 feet away); a different marker also named Battle of Franklin, Eastern Flank (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Franklin.
 
Also see . . .  Disaster on the Mississippi. (Submitted on May 18, 2017, by Brandon Stahl of Fairfax, Virginia.)
 
Categories. DisastersWar, US CivilWaterways & Vessels
 
The Sultana image. Click for full size.
4. The Sultana
More than 1,700 (75 percent) of about 2,400 passengers perished when Sultana exploded and burned. In comparison, 1,517 passengers and crew out of 2,202 (about 69 percent) died in the RMS Titanic disaster 47 years later.
Memphis National Cemetery, 1906 photo image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
5. Memphis National Cemetery, 1906 photo
Deaths on the Sultana by Unit image. Click for full size.
6. Deaths on the Sultana by Unit
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 19, 2017. This page originally submitted on May 18, 2017, by Brandon Stahl of Fairfax, Virginia. This page has been viewed 52 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 18, 2017, by Brandon Stahl of Fairfax, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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