I am working on a middle grade historical fiction about a group of boys in the Memphis area and their adventures around the Sultana disaster. The steamship Sultana sank just north of Memphis, TN in April of 1865 on the overloaded boat carrying Union soldiers northward to home after the end of the Civil War. The tragedy resulted in the death of 1547 people–more people than died in the Titanic disaster.
This quote is from a survivor of a Confederate prison camp and the Sultana explosion, J. Walter Elliot, in his submission to Loss of the Sultana and Reminiscences of Survivors, edited by Chester Berry
“I’ve seen death’s carnival in the yellow fever and the cholera-stricken city, on the ensanguined field, in hospital and prison and on the rail; I have, with wife and children clinging in terror to my knees, wrestled with the midnight cyclone; but the most horrible of all the sights and sounds of that hour. The prayers, shrieks and groans of strong men and helpless women and children are still ringing in my ears, and the remembrance makes me shudder. The sight of 2,000 ghostly, pallid faces upturned in the chilling waters of the Mississippi, as I looked down on them from the boat, is a picture that haunts me in my dreams.”