The SS Sultana on PBS: Commemoration or Destruction?

One of the last, and perhaps saddest, chapters of Arkansas’s Civil War story was the destruction of the S.S. Sultana, a steamboat that was carrying about 2,000 recently-released U.S. prisoners-of-war home in 1865. Early one morning, its boilers exploded, killing around 1,500 men. See the Encyclopedia of Arkansas Online article for more in-depth information.

The location of the Sultana is now on dry land in eastern Arkansas, and the PBS show History Detectives is set to air an episode on the disaster on July 1st at 8pm (central).

History Detectives is not ranked among the archaeologically-inflected shows that have cropped up on various networks in the past few years, but it will be interesting to see how the show treats the incident (was the Sultana sabotaged?), and how they deal with the current disposition of the wreck (do they visit? do they dig?) and the hundreds of un-recovered people who died that night.

I am planning on putting up a comment thread to discuss the show as it’s airing (in the vein of watch threads most sports blogs host during games). For context, bear in mind Arkansas’s Burial Law.

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