The overcrowded Sultana, chugging north on the Mississippi River, exploded and caught fire on April 27, 1865, killing more than 1,100 people. Most of the victims were recently released Union prisoners heading home. Gaunt men who had been held at Cahaba and Andersonville were lost or injured in the disaster.
|Box made by survivor (Marion Chamber of Commerce)|
The Association of Sultana Descendants and Friends is holding its 31st annual reunion this Friday and Saturday, said co-founder Norman Shaw.
“Our group has held reunions at every important site related to the Sultana story (Vicksburg, Memphis, Andersonville and Cincinnati, where it was built, etc.) except the prison site at Old Cahawba, which we will tour Saturday morning and spend the afternoon visiting the battle sites of Gen. Wilson's attack and victory over Gen. Forrest on April 2, 1865, during Wilson's raid through the South,” Shaw told the Picket.
He said Selma was essential for munitions production and was a Confederate naval building center, producing the ironclad CSS Tennessee, which was forced to surrender during Union Adm. David Farragut's successful capture of Mobile in August 1864.