The Civil War was the deadliest conflict in U.S. history. But one of its lesser-known gory episodes actually happened after the war ended, as Union prisoners of war made their ways home—or tried to.
On this day in 1865, a steamboat carrying 2,300 recently released Union POWs, crew and civilians sank after several of its steam boilers exploded. An estimated 1,800 people died, of causes ranging from steam burns to drowning, making the explosion of the Sultana the deadliest maritime disaster in U.S. history—worse than the Titanic. Although the disaster got little press in its own time and remains little-known today, the city of Marion, Arkansas has ensured it is not forgotten.