Sinking the Sultana: A Civil War Story of Imprisonment, Greed, and a Doomed Journey Home

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Sally M. Walker

Narrated By: Janet Metzger

Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Date: October 2017

Duration: 4 hours 7 minutes


In one terror-filled night, more than fifteen hundred people were lost when the Sultana sank.

In 1865, the Civil War was winding down and the country was reeling from the assassination of President Lincoln. Thousands of Union soldiers released from Confederate prisoner-of-war camps began a long journey home. Follow the story of five of those soldiers who barely survived the atrocious conditions in the camps in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi until they were paroled and sent north.

Transportation for the soldiers was arranged on the Sultana, a steamboat built with the latest technology. The captain stood to profit from each passenger it carried. Rushing needed boiler repairs, Captain James Mason boarded more than two thousand people in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on a boat certified for a capacity of 376.

For two days, soldiers and others were squeezed together on the overcrowded boat. On their third night on the Mississippi River, just north of Memphis, the boilers exploded, engulfing the boat in steam and flames. Passengers were burned, crushed, or flung overboard.

Although rescue efforts were launched, the survival rate was dismal. Who or what was responsible for the disaster? A greedy captain, corrupt army officers, faulty equipment, or the risks of a cold, flooded river?