On April 27, 1865 occurred one of the of the greatest marine disasters of history. The loss of life is officially listed as 1,400 while it was the general belief of the survivors that owing to incomplete records 1700 perished. However, the 1400 loss places the Sultana fatalities as 250 above those of the Lusitania and only 117 short of the number lost on the Titanic.
Just recently I found out that I had two ancestors who were on the Sultana when it exploded on 27 April 1865 on the Mississippi River. Their names were William Pickens and Samuel Pickens. They were brothers and were in the 3rd Tennessee Cavalry. The war had ended and they had just been released from Cahaba Prison near Selma, Alabama when they boarded the Sultana to go home. I have been doing alot of research on the Sultana Disaster and have a lot of information to share about it.
I have a copy of the book The John Pickens Family by Nellie Pickens Anderson with a New Supplement and Index of the Combined Editions edited by Elizabeth Cowan Snead Shue and Lloyd C. Shue. “The John Pickens Family” book is where I found the information about my ancestors who were on the Sultana at the time of the explosion.
In the John Pickens Family book it tells about how the Sultana was overloaded with Prisoners of war(mostly) and how the boiler exploded and killed more people than the Titanic. My two ancestors were William and Samuel Pickens and William was killed and according to a letter written by his brother, he never found him, so he assumed that he was dead. Samuel was blown off the ship and survived. He clung to horse that was swimming closeby and eventually switched to a dead horse, because the first one he found was set on swimming back towards the burning Sultana. He eventually grabbed a limb and climbed to safety on shore. After Samuel survived, he wrote a letter to his Mother and Sister-In-Law explaining about the explosion and the news that William was never found.
The following is a list of names that are located on the Sultana monument at the Mount Olive Cemetary in Knoxville, Tennessee.
On the Monument:
In memory of the men who were on the Sultana, that was destroyed April 27, 1865 by explosion on the Mississippi near Memphis Tennessee.
From Tennessee there were 365 men on the Sultana. They are listed below:
First Tennessee Cavalry
Karns S., Trent R.A.
Second Tennessee Cavalry
Atchley T, Chip A.J., Jack M., King G.A., Knight J., Lost D.M., Madgett R., Meek R., Powell J.
Second Tennessee Mounted Infantry
Brownley J.B., Emenery W., Grier J.A., Moffat J., Pease W.
Third Tennessee Cavalry
Allen, D., Allen, F.J., Anderson, J, Anderson, J.E., Anderson, T., Atchley, P. A., Atsher, W., Badget,
B., Badgett, J D., Baggart, M., Bailey, R. M., Bailey, W., Baker, C., Baker, J., Baker, W. A., Barley,
W., Barnett, A., Basley, W., Battles, I., Battles,W. F., Bean, K. P., Berd, J.O., Bell, F.M., Bennett,E.M.,
Bishop, J, Bishop, W., Blane, M., Bogert, C. H., Bogert, S. F., Bookout, J. L., Brandon, J. Brock, J.
A., Brooks, J., Brown, M. F., Brown, M. S., Brown, P. H., Brown, W. M., Burnett, H. 0., Byron,J.H.,
Campbell, John H., Campbell, N.J., Cantrell, J., Caree, J. R., Cartney, J. S., Carver, W., Cash, H. W.,
Chandler,B., Cochoran, H., Collins, J. H., Collins, J. R., Collins, J. W, Conner, C. W., Copeland, J.,
Cooper, R., Costney, W. S., Cowan, S. A., Dowdon, J B., Cox, J., Crawford, H.P., Crusoe, W. R.,
Cunningham, J., Cursick, D., Curtin, R. A., Curtis, J. T., Daily, J., Davis, F., Davis, C. C., Davis, J. A.,
Davis, W., DeArmond, H. H., DeArmond, L., DeArmond, S., DeArmond, T., Demman, T., Dickerson, J.
Doherty, J. M. Donaldson, D. D., Douglass, J.E., Draper, P., Dunlap, A. B., Dunlap S.F., Dyer, S. A.
Ellenberry, J., Elliott, J. W., Ellison, J., Elza, R. M., Estes, J., Evans, S. M., Everett, W., Everett, J.
Farmer, A., Farmer, E., Farmer, E., Farmer, C., Farmer, J. A., Farmer, 1.0., Fergerson, W. H.,
Fergerson, 1. H., Finger, A., Finger, F., Finley, B. N, Firrett, W., Fowler, A., Franelen, J.,
Franklin,J.H., Fuller, J., Gamble, M., Gibson, D., Golden, J., Graham, L., Gray, M. L., Crier, J. A.,
Griffin, H., Griffin,Holston, Gross, A., Haback, C., Hackney, R. L., Haffager, J. W, Hamilton, H. C.,
Hamilton, J., Hamilton, R. N., Hancock, W. B., Hand, J. F., Haren, W., Harris, W., Haun, M., Hedrick,
D. A., Henderson, J. C., Henry, J. W, Hessinger, H.P., Hickman, B., Hickox, J. E., Hicks, J. H., Hill,
W. S., Hinchy, L. C., Hines, J., Hines, 0. A., Hodge, J. W, Hooper, J H., Houser, A., Houser, L.,
Howrd, T. A., Howell, F., Hudson, P., Huffaker, J., Humbrick, J., Hurry, J., Hyden, D. A., Jefferes, W
Jenkins, S., Johnson, A., Johnson, J., Johnson, J., Johnson, W., Johnson, W. R., Jones, J. W, Jones, 0.
C., Kaywood,B. E., Keeble, J.H., Keeble, P. M., Kennedy, C. W., Kidd, Alex, Kidd, J., Kidd, J. W,
Kidd, L. M., Kimble, J.H King, C. A., Kinneman, J. M., Kinneman, S., Kinsha, C. S., Kirkpatrick, J.P.,
Kirkpatrick,W. C., Knight, J Knight, I. D., Lackley, J.B., Lansom, G.M., Lapt, J H., Leak, A., Leak, W.,
Lee, F., Lee, J., Leek, J Leonard, T. J., Lesley, J., Lingingfaller, H. T., Lingingfaller, G. T., Linsey,
J.R., Long, A., Long, J., M. B., Lost, D. M., Luttrell, W., Mann, W. S., Mansfield, W. S., Mansfield,
Z.M., Marr, B. L., Massey, J.J Maxwell, C. W., May, M. V., McClannihan, D., McClawson, J.M.,
McClure,M.D., McKann, A., McMurray, B., McPail, D. M., McPhall, B., McPherson, J.A., McTeag,
D., Meinsel, C., Millard, L. R., Miller, J. W Mills, I. F., Mills, W., Millsaps, W. J., Millsaps, J., Milton,
W., Montgomery, J. L., Morrison, T. C., Murphy E. A., Murphy, J., Murphy, J.M., Mussin, H. M.,
Neiley,W.M., Newman, C., Nichols, D., Noe, W., M., Ouslivan, R. T., Palmer, W. N., Patty, J.A.,
Payne, J.P., Peery, A. T., Phelps, J.M., Phelps, W., S., Pickens, W., Pierce, R. M., Pinkney,W.C.,
Plumons, T. J., Purger, W., Pryor, M., Rale, B., Ramsey, MRamsey, M. C., Ray, P, Rease, L., Reed, R.,
Reed, W. M., Relan, T., Rice, J. M., Riddle, J. R., Ritcher, H Robinson, H., Rogers,J.A., Rogers, M. H.,
Rogers, T. W., Rogers, W., Rogers, W. J., Rolen, B. W Romines, L., Rornines, S., Rule, C., Rule, J.,
Rule, R., Russell, B., Russell, C., Russell, N., Russell, 0. C., Russell,R.T., Sanders, D., Sangley, J.M.,
Saylor, J., Scott, J., Scott, J., Scoggs, I., Shorts, J.W., Simpson, A., Simpson, J H., Simpson, J.L..,
Smith, J P., Smith, J. R., Smith, W. D., Splann, A., Sprangle, C., M., Stevens, J., Stone, W., Strickley,
M., Stroud, J N., Sullivan, 0. P., Sumney, J., Swaggerty, S., W. S., Tarver, J., Thomas, M., Thompson,
M., Thompson, R., Thompson, U., Tipton, A., Tipton, C., Tipton, C., Tipton, J., Trobaugh, I., Turner,
R., Ursery, J. R., Varnell, A. P., Vineyard, W. T., Wade, W. D., S. M., Walker, B. B., Wayland, L. A.,
Whitman, R., Whittenberger, D. A., Williams, D. M., Williams, F Williams, N. C., Williams, S. H.,
Wilson, A., Winkle, A., Woods, I.E., Woods, L., Wright, W., Wyler, L.
Fourth Tennessee Cavalry
Bayless W., Develin J., Dickens N., Dronsyea R., Hastshan R., McDowell W., McMurry W., Norman J.,
Odin P.H., Station H., Summer J.B., Thomas H.
Fifth Tennessee Cavalry
Philps O., Shelton O.G.
Sixth Tennessee Cavalry
Gray M.L., Walberton P.
Seventh Tennessee Cavalry
Campbell W., Davenport J.K., Derrbury J.H., Harover J., Small H.J., Smith J.