Vicksburg in Warren County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
—Vicksburg Heritage Walking Trail —
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 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.
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.
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.
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.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi, Vicksburg Heritage Walking Trail marker series.
Location. 32° 20.223′ Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2322 Drummond Street, Vicksburg MS 39180, United States of America.
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. ¼ 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.)
Categories. • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 27, 2018. This page originally submitted on March 27, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 58 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on March 27, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.