What to know
In 1865, the Sultana steamship exploded near Marion on the Mississippi River, killing 1,800 passengers, primarily Union soldiers released from Confederate prisons and en route home after the Civil War. The steamship, with a legal capacity of 376, was carrying 2,300 people. It is the greatest maritime disaster in U.S. history, surpassing even the death toll of the Titanic. The Sultana tragedy was overshadowed by the funeral of Abraham Lincoln, the hunt for John Wilkes Booth, and the final surrender of Confederate forces, and lost to history.