With the observance last weekend of the Titanic disaster, it is easy to forget, even during this year of remembrance of the Civil War, that the 1912 sinking was not the worst water vessel tragedy of all time.
That regrettable distinction belongs to the sinking of the riverboat Sultana, when its boilers exploded on the Mississippi River near Memphis on April 27, 1865 -- not quite two weeks after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
The estimated 1,600 Sultana passengers who perished -- among more than 2,000 packed on the decks -- surpass the 1,514 who died when the Titanic went down. There were few, if any, widely known individuals among these tragic riverboat victims.
They were mostly weakened, sickly survivors of the notorious Andersonville prison in Georgia and Cahaba prison in Alabama. They had been on their way home after living through what was essentially an American Auschwitz.
PHIL TICHENOR, BROOKLYN PARK