The Sultana Disaster: The Titanic Of The Mississippi

By | March 22, 2019

test article image
The Sultana Steamboat. Source: (

The Sultana was a large wooden steamboat which transported people and freight between St. Louis and New Orleans. Early on April 27th, 1865 – a few days after the end of the Civil War - the Sultana steamboat burst into flames while floating on the Mississippi River.

test article image
Depiction of J. Cass Mason, Captain of the Sultana Steamboat. Source: (

A Greedy Captain

One week prior to the explosion, the Sultana was docked in Vicksburg for boiler repairs. While there, the U.S. Government contracted the Sultana to carry former Union prisoners of war from their Confederate prisons back North. It was a lucrative contract and fully repairing the boiler would take too long, so Mason decided to just have it patched as he didn’t want to lose the contract. This decision would prove to be the reason for the disaster.