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  • Marker for Sultana
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Union Cartridge Box sling from wreck of the "Sultana"


Product Description

This is a very interesting piece being offered which I had in my collection for over 25 years; it is a leather Union cartridge box sling. It measures approximately 53” long. Carved into the leather is what it appears to be “P. Del”, which was probably the soldier. The string tag states “Sultana / Found on bank of Mississippi River”.

The Sultana was a Mississippi River sidewheel steamboat whose destruction by an explosion and fire on April 27, 1865 is the greatest maritime disaster in United States history (see pictures). Nearly 1,200 of the Sultana’s 2,137 passengers and crew were killed when three of the boat’s boilers exploded. Minutes later, the boat was engulfed in fire. The Sultana sank just north of Marion, Arkansas.

Most of the passengers were paroled Union prisoners of war just released from Confederate camps at Andersonville, Georgia and Cahaba, Alabama. The U.S. government had contracted with the captain of the Sultana, James Cass Mason, to transport these former prisoners to Cairo, Illinois to be forwarded by railroad to Camp Chase near Columbus, Ohio. Most of these men, mainly from the states of Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, and West Virginia, had been weakened from their incarceration and exposure to illnesses. With a legal carrying capacity of only 376 passengers, the Sultana dangerously overcrowded when she took on almost 2,000 paroled prisoners.

When I acquired this piece from a well-known Civil War dealer, I was told it was found many years ago on the banks of the Mississippi River, near Memphis and it was stiff and originally it was much worse. I further cleaned it and applied a leather preservative several times throughout the years. It is now a little flexible and only showing a few cracks. Very few relics survived the Sultana tragedy.

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$8.50 (Fixed shipping cost)