The explosion of the steamer Sultana, just above Memphis, is the most terrible that ever occurred on the Western waters. By it many hundred human beings lost their lives. Further particulars of the disaster will be looked for with great interest.
New Albany Daily Ledger Monday 1 May 1865 p1 c5 & c6:
Over a Thousand Lives Lost
Special dispatch to the Cincinnati Gazette.
The following is the Memphis Bulletinís account of the disaster:
The steamer Sultana, Captain Mason, arrived from New Orleans, last night, the
26th, with about 2,200 people on board, 1,964 of whom were exchanged Federal prisoners
from Vicksburg, the balance being refugees and regular passengers from various points
along the river, proceeding toward St. Louis. She left the coal pile about 1 o'clock
this morning, and had made some eight or ten miles, when an explosion of one of her
boilers occurred. The boat, with its living mass of freight, took fire near the engines,
and in short time was burned to the water, and now lies on a sand bar near Foglemanís
Landing. Nothing is now visible but her charred remains and jackstaff standing erect.
Henry Cross, George Clayton and Wm. Rawberry were the only officers known to be saved, except Clemons, who is almost dead. The body of Wm. Cruddes?, co. I, 1st Virginia cavalry, from Wheeling, Va., was found dead. He had taken the precaution to label himself. Among the soldiers on board were 30 commissioned officers. The troops were of various regiments, and nearly all exchanged prisoners.
At the hour of writing only 500 or 600 persons had been saved. Not less than one thousand lives were hurled into eternity by the most by the most wonderful of all river disasters. Hon. W. D. Snow, member of Congress from Arkansas, was on board and escaped uninjured.
The following named persons drifted down and were saved at Fort Pickering:
Lieut. J. N. Seffer, 175th Ohio
J. M. Dougherty
Serg. Lew Mills, 10th Ind. cav.
Serg. Wm. M. Duke, 42d Ohio
L. Brooke, 2d Mich, cav.
Commissary Serg. Zacharias, 7th Mich.
Corp. Peacock, 9th Ind. cav.
C. M. Eldridge
J. B. Lacker
M. Ramsey, 3d Tenn. cav.
W. H. Chance, 9th Ind. cav.
N. R. Russell
E. Spencer, 8th Mich. cav.
R. Talkinton, Ind. cav.
M. Daly, 17th infantry
J. Parker, 95th infantry
J. R. Delender, 3d Ind. cav.
P. M. Brown, 6th Ky. cav.
H. Van Fleet, 14th Ohio
M. Reynolds, 99th Ind.
H. P. Hunt, 36th Ind.
M. J. Gray, 6th Tenn. cav.
O. L. Shelton, 6th Tenn. cav.
J. Benson, 40th Ind.
J. Kating, 2d Mich.
A. Eipure [?], 4th Ohio
E. Matthiss, 64th Ohio
J. Thatcher, 46th Ohio
J. Haley, 102d Ohio
B. Folshoman, 9th Ind. cav.
E. Hites, 102d Ohio
J. W. Jackson, 5th Ky. cav.
H. W. Wallace, 124th Ohio
G. H. Hodger, 9th Ohio cav.
G. Deerisher, 13th Michigan
L. Cook, 28th Ohio
R. Carr, 7th Ohio cav.
John Bevis, 9th Indiana
S. E. Whiter, 55th Ohio
W. McMurry, 4th Tenn. cav.
J. Wetcott McClothiers, Ohio cav.
R. T. Hall, 2d Ky. cav.
J. W. Dunsmore, 1st Michigan Engineers
J. Moore, 175th Ohio
C. Post, 175th Ohio
J. Noland, 4th Ohio cav.
J. Welch, deck hand
G. M. Sheppard, 10th Ind. and his father
The Indiana Sanitary Agent
Capt. J. Walker Elliott, 34th colored
Lieut. J. F. Elliot, Co. C. 125th Ind.
Lieut. Suvain, 9th Ind. cav.
Lieut. W. G. Davis, Co. A, 10th Ind. cav.
Lieut. Burnett, 12th Ky.
Lieut. Dickinson, 2d Mich. cav.
Lieut. McCard, 97th Ohio
Lieut. Squire, 101st Ohio
Capt. Taggart, 101st Ohio
Lieut. Earle, 1st Mich.
Major Carlin, 71st Ohio
Capt. Fooser, 58th Ohio
Capt. Hake, 215th Ohio
Cairo, April 28
The steamer Marble City has just arrived from Memphis. Although the news is of the greatest importance and general interest, her officers failed entirely to favor a single correspondent in Cairo with the papers containing it. Consequently the reporters and editors of Cairo are not indebted to this steamer for the following particulars of the most appalling steamboat disaster that perhaps ever occurred.
New Albany Daily Ledger Tuesday 2 May 1865 p2 c2
The Memphis Bulletin
publishes a statement by W. D. Snow, U. S. Senator from Arkansas, which is as follows: The Sultana contained 2,175 souls. The density with which they were packed had
awakened my curiosity and I looked over with the clerks his certificates and books
before retiring. This number included 85 hands employed on the boat. There were some
females, besides a few children. The bulk of passengers were returned prisoners from
Andersonville, which place they left on the 17th of last February. Among them were the
remnant at that point of the prisoners captured at Chickamauga and Gettysburg. They
numbered altogether 1,986 men and 66 officers. A large number of horses were on the
boat, which providentially became unresisting victims to the flames. Had they broken
loose the fate of the swimmers would have been determined within two hundred yards of
the boat. As far as can be estimated without other data than observation, between 200
and 300 reached the bank, while about an equal number floated down the stream on doors
A dense mass, estimated at about five hundred, took refuge on the bow of the
boat while the flames were driven aft by the wind. A few moments after the wheelhouse,
loosened by the concussion and the flames, fell off, and the boat turned stern up
stream, reverting the flames. The largest part of this number must then have perished,
as they had no material at hand to throw overboard to sustain themselves except a few
bales of hay, which were immediately seized on the turning of the boat. The gangplanks
were thrown over, but sank at once under their living freight, and rose too far out of
reach for most. The yawl was launched bottom up, from the hurricane deck upon the heads
of below, and afforded a support for a few in that condition. The whole time before the
boat was an entire sheet of flame could not have exceeded twenty minutes. I was not more
than one third of the distance to shore when I observed the fact. The prisoners
represented almost every State in the Union, even Texas, and the calamity will be as
widely felt as a battle of no inconsiderable proportions.
The Memphis Bulletin
publishes a statement by W. D. Snow, U. S. Senator from Arkansas, which is as follows:
The Sultana contained 2,175 souls. The density with which they were packed had awakened my curiosity and I looked over with the clerks his certificates and books before retiring. This number included 85 hands employed on the boat. There were some females, besides a few children. The bulk of passengers were returned prisoners from Andersonville, which place they left on the 17th of last February. Among them were the remnant at that point of the prisoners captured at Chickamauga and Gettysburg. They numbered altogether 1,986 men and 66 officers. A large number of horses were on the boat, which providentially became unresisting victims to the flames. Had they broken loose the fate of the swimmers would have been determined within two hundred yards of the boat. As far as can be estimated without other data than observation, between 200 and 300 reached the bank, while about an equal number floated down the stream on doors and furniture. A dense mass, estimated at about five hundred, took refuge on the bow of the boat while the flames were driven aft by the wind. A few moments after the wheelhouse, loosened by the concussion and the flames, fell off, and the boat turned stern up stream, reverting the flames. The largest part of this number must then have perished, as they had no material at hand to throw overboard to sustain themselves except a few bales of hay, which were immediately seized on the turning of the boat. The gangplanks were thrown over, but sank at once under their living freight, and rose too far out of reach for most. The yawl was launched bottom up, from the hurricane deck upon the heads of below, and afforded a support for a few in that condition. The whole time before the boat was an entire sheet of flame could not have exceeded twenty minutes. I was not more than one third of the distance to shore when I observed the fact. The prisoners represented almost every State in the Union, even Texas, and the calamity will be as widely felt as a battle of no inconsiderable proportions.
It is now ascertained there were 2,300 people on board the ill-fated Sultana, and 786 have been found alive. A soldier of the 128th Indiana brought a woman and child ashore, although he had one leg badly scalded, and was otherwise injured by the accident. There were too many people on the boat, but her officers were careful and competent men, and the engines had but recently passed inspection.
Several persons were taken out of the water as much as twenty miles below Memphis, late on the day of the accident. Gen. Washburne has appointed a commission to fully investigate the entire affair; they are now taking testimony.
About two-thirds of the entire number of soldiers were from Ohio and Indiana.
S. Applegate , Sergt. 5th cav.
W. F. Dixon, 2d Lieut, A, 10th Ind. cav., injury of breast, slight
J. F. W. Barnett, 2d Lieut, A, 12th Ky. cav., bruised, slight
B. Folderman, Serg. 9th Ind. cav, B, fractured skull
James Elkin, 2d Ky., cav., A. scalded
John W. Jackson, 5th Ky. cav., B, scalded feet
Ben F. Seamen, Corp. 57th Ind., G, scalded, severe
N. W. Johnson, 2d Ky. cav., H, scalded legs and arms
N. H. Hale, 20th Ky., G, scalded foot
W. C. Warner, 9th Ind. cav. B, contusion, slight
James Elkin, 2d Ky. cav., A, scalded
Samuel McGinnis, 9th Ind cav., M, uninjured
James M. Phenecie, Corp. 29th Ind., A, uninjured
M. P. Davis, 15th Ky., P, uninjured
John M. Stites, Corp. 8th Ind. cav., F, uninjured
Hiram Lawson, 5th Ind. cav., G, contusion, slight
Wm. Block, 9th Ind. cav., K, contusion, slight
Lindsey Stockdale, 93rd Ind., E, uninjured
Isaac Pannuis, 1st Serg.57th Ind., D, scalded, slight
W. A. Couk, 40th Ind., H, uninjured
W. J. Collins, Corp. 6th Ind. cav., L, uninjured
Moses Patrick, 22d Ind., H, scalded hand
Joseph Smith, 7th Ind. cav., K, uninjured
G. W. Tucker, 6th Ky. cav., P?, uninjured
N. G. Gas, 1st Sergt.93d Ind., H, uninjured
E. Grunn, Sergt. 6th Ky. cav., A, uninjured
R. T. Hall, 2d Ky. cav., C, scalded hand
Joe W. Jackson, 5th Ky. cav., B, scalded hand
S. L. Winkle, 70th Ind., R, uninjured
J. Rollick, 86th Ind., G, contusion of breast
F. M. Bradley, 10th Ind. cav., K, uninjured
J. W. Gardner, 66th Ind., K, uninjured
Alex Frey, 8th Ind. cav., F, uninjured
O. O. Baker, 9th Ind. cav., K, uninjured
S. McCollough, Sergt. 5th Ind. cav., H, contusion of ankle
J. McKnight, 7th Ky. cav., L, scalded arm
Wm. Hughes, Corp. 24th Ind. bat., uninjured
Wm. H. Windsor, 9th Ind., L, scalded, slight
Alex Frey, 8th, Ind. cav., F, uninjured [listed above].
Daniel Stahl, Surgeon U. S. V.
S. J. Green, K, 9th Ind. cav., scalded, head and neck
Sergt. Martin Frazee, C, 2d Ind. cav., scalded, seriously on back, head, legs and arms
Corp. Hiram Allison, G, 9th Ind. cav., contusion of scalp
Stephen Kiar, F, 14th Ind., scalded, slightly
W. A. McFarland, A, 42nd Ind., chilled
W. T. Williams, K, 4th Ky., chilled
Thomas Lynch, B, 35th Ind., contusion
J. K. Dickey, K, 60th Ind., contusion
L. A. Hobbs, G, 6th Ky. cav., contusion
Corp. Henry C. Lindley, I, 99th Ind., chilled
Corp. P. W. Foley, B, 28th Ky., scalded slightly
Sergt. David Garkill, M, 8th Ind. cav., contusion
L. W. Sloan, I, 4th Ind., contusion
Charles I. Lahue, D, 13th Ind., contusion
Sergt. Henry Johnson, I, 6th Ky. cav., scalded severe
W. Davidson, M, 3d Ky. cav., contusion
Andrew Smith, C, 57th Ind., contusion, slight
Sergt. Arthur Tremble, F, 4th Ind. cav., contusion, slight
G. W. Dawson, G, 30th Ind., scalded, severely
David Coleman, C, 6th Ky. cav., severely on hands, arms, back and face
Arthur F. Wallace, E, 3d Ky. infantry, scalded in face
O. F. Spacy, M, 9th Ind. cav., chilled
Jacob Christie, G, 40th Ind., contusion, slight
H. Bonhead, C, 6th Ky. cav., scalded on hand and leg
T. E. Carter, A, 17th Ky., uninjured
D. Hetrer, Ordínce Serg. C, 93d Ind., scalded, slightly
Chas. T. Higdon, C, 4th Ky. mounted inítry, scalded hands and feet
W. Convers, B, 3d Ind., scalded on back
E. D. Clary, Serg., L, 6th Ind. cav., contusion
M. B. Simmernon, C, 66th Ind., contusion left foot
J. W. Gard, K, 7th Ind. cav., chilled
Joseph Watson, M, 9th Ind. cav., chilled
J. P. WRIGHT,Assít. Surgeon U. S. A., in charge.
Lewis Bean, A, 6th Ky. cav., scalded severe
Stephen M. Gustor, K, 9th Ind. cav., incised wound of thigh
Sergt. Wm. H. Monday, G, 6th Ky. cav., scalded severely
Robert McKinney, A, 6th Ky. cav., scalded slight
Marcellus Reynolds C, 86th Ind., dislocation of wrist
Sergt. Joseph J. Dean, C?, 5th Ind. cav., scalded, severely
Thos. Van Housier, C, 3d Ky. cav., scalded severely, died
Sergt. Wm. Buchanan, D, 93d Ind., chilled
Jesse M. Gass, H, 93d Ind., chilled
Edwin L. Harper, G, 4th Ky. mounted infantry, chilled
Geo. V. Seymour, B, 4th Ky. mounted infantry, chilled
Jas. K. Ashley, 20th Ind. bat., contusion face, severe
George P. Wilson, B, 9th Ind. cav., chilled
James L. Johnson, L, 9th Ind. cav., chilled
Elias Miller, L, 9th Ind. cav., scalded, slight
George Frederick, D, 7th Ind. cav., chilled
Arthur H. Paul, A, 9th Ind. cav., scalded, slight
John F. Mohin, C, 6th Ky. cav., scalded slight
John Farral, D, 7th Ind. cav., chilled
Matthew Patterson, A, 93d Ind., incised wound right hand
Romeo Prindle, H, 10th Ind. cav., chilled
Geo. W. Bechler, C, 57th Ind., scalded, severe
Louis Schlmeyer, A, 32d Ind., scald, slight
Corp. John Hamlorf, F, 7th Ky. cav., contusion, back
Romulus Tolbert, H, 8th Ind. cav., chilled
Geo. Cheatham, F, 6th Ky. cav., diarrhea
Anderson Penion, F, 9th Ind. cavalry, chilled
Henry H. Gambill, B, 14th Ky., chilled
James D. Brown, H, 9th Ind., contusion right shoulder
Wm. R. Riley, A, 9th Ind. cav., contusion of right arm and leg
Jesse Mullen, L, 5th Ind. cav., contusion of back
Wm. Phelps, C, 2d Ind. cav., scalded, slight
Corp. Daniel McMurtry, A, 6th Ky. cav., scalded and three hours in water
Corp. S. J. Watts, C, 6th Ky. cav., scalded severely
Columbus W. H. Veatch, H, 38th Ind., chilled
Stephen Jones, 6th Ky. cav., slight scald
H. A. ohnson, 17th Ind. cav., M, exhaustion
Thomas Rogers, 99th Ind., G, exhaustion
G. B. Hinkle, 9th Ind. cav., A, exhaustion
J. S. Applegate, 6th Ind. cav., C, exhaustion
Sanford P. Ames, 7th Ind. cav., B, exhaustion
Robert Rule, 3d Ind. cav., A, exhaustion
E. R.Kennedy, 4th Ky., K, scalded slightly
J. W. Banks, Sergt., A, 3d Ky., seriously scalded
P. M. Brown, G, 66th Ky. cal., severely scalded
D. Wright, Sergt., F, 7th Ky. cav., very seriously scalded; also several cuts on head
Wm. Montgomery, F, 6th Ky. cav., very seriously scalded; femur fracture at middle third
Wm. H. Chance, M, 9th Ind. cav., severely scalded
T. J. Gimm, F. 57th Ind., slightly scalded
P. S. Summerville, [illegible] Ind., slight scald
Corp. Felix Benson, K, 40th Ind., bruised slightly
Robert B. Armstrong, I, 7th Ind. cav., exhaustion
Geo. M. Safford, A, 10th Ind. cav., exhaustion
Charles Farens, A, 9th Ind. cav., exhaustion
Thomas Demoss, I, 8th Ind. cav., exhaustion
Jas. Gaw?, G, 93d Ind., exhaustion
Jacob Medesker, A, 79th Ind., exhaustion
J. W. Milligan, Sergt., G, __ Ind., exhaustion
H. Kline, G, 9th Ind., exhaustion
J. B. Lewis, K, 9th Ind. slight scald
P. A.Kesler, K, 9th Ind. cav., exhaustion
Lewis Johnson, G, 9th Ind. cav., exhaustion
J. B. Thompson, H, 6th Ky. cav., exhaustion
Jas. Parker, I, 6th Ky. cav., exhaustion
J. T. Elliott, 2d Lieut, C, 124th Ind., exhaustion
E. H. Swain, 1st Lieut, G, 9th Inc. cav., exhaustion
Mrs. Anna Annis-citizen, exhaustion
Thomas Hunt, deck hand on steamer, very seriously scalded, also hand badly cut.
JOSEPH E. LYNCH,Acting Staff Surgeon, U. S. A.
New Albany Daily Ledger Tuesday 2 May 1865 p3 c5
From the St. Louis Republican we copy the following additional particulars of the terrible disaster on board the Sultana.
One soldier made a noble attempt to save two save two little children. He got them on a plank and floated down opposite Memphis, where a rope was thrown from a boat, and attempted to grab the rope, his exhausted arms let his precious charge fall into the river. He plunged from the plank at the peril of his life and attempted to rescue them, but failed, and the brave young man was picked up when nearly drowned.
Mrs. Hardin, whose husband is a member of the firm of Cushman, Hardin and Co., of Chicago, who was returning from a wedding tour, was lost. Mr. Hardin was saved. He was formerly Adjutant of the 53d Illinois.
A woman was rescued opposite Memphis, clinging to a plank, with a child in her arms, but the child was dead when taken out.
An officer of a gunboat and his wife, his two children and sister were aboard; his wife only was saved. The officers of the gunboat Essex made up a purse of a thousand dollars for her.
There was no baggage saved.
The greater portion of those rescued were more or less wounded or scalded; some had the cuticle taken entirely from their bodies by the hot steam.
The steamer Bostona merits great praise for her exertions to save the drowning.
As soon as Capt. Watson of the Bostona discovered the burning wreck he put on all steam, he and his crew did all that men could do by lowering boats and rescuing all that they could reach in time, and by throwing overboard bales of hay, planks, staging or anything that the sufferers could float on. In some cases three or four would cling to a single bale and be rescued. In many cases the unfortunate were found dead on planks. Three dead men were taken from tres to which they has swam and climbed up. Those found dead and floating are supposed to have been so long weakened by imprisonment that they chilled to death.
The Bostona saved about 200 lives.
The body of a cabin passenger was picked up at Memphis. He wore two fine shirts,
on which were the marks - J. D. Fontaine, Dallas City, Ill.
A little girl was seen by three men, who were in a skiff, struggling in the water. She had on a life preserver, but it was so low down it forced her head under the water. The men in the skiff tried to save her, but the swift current carried her by.
Mr. Bowberry chief mate of the Sultana, testified before the Commission:
On the body of one of the ladies found was a purse of $200, a gold watch and letters bearing the address of Mr. and Mrs. S. M. Woolcock, Lexington, Ky.
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