The steamship Sultana exploded in 1865, killing 1,700 of its estimated 2,300 passengers. It was the worst maritime disaster in American history, and it happened just about 10 miles N. of Memphis.
The side-wheeler was overloaded with former Union soldiers heading home from Confederate prisoner-of-war camps in Andersonville, GA and Cahaba, AL. They had boarded the ship in Vicksburg where the Sultana's boiler had been patched. The riverboat stopped briefly at the Cobblestone Landing in Memphis and crossed the River to Hopewell, AR before the explosion on April 27, 1865.
PBS "History Detectives" investigate the disaster, in the 1st episode of their new series. Click HERE to watch online. Free.