This poem was written by Sultana Descendant and WW II veteran Clinton Riddle of Sweetwater, Tennessee and was read at our Vicksburg Reunion. Clinton’s ancestors on the Sultana were:
John M. D. Riddle Pvt., Co. C, 3RD TN Cav. Great Grandfather Died
Miles H. Riddle Pvt., Co. C, 3RD TN Cav. Great Uncle Died
John R. Dixon Pvt. Co. C, 3RD TN Cav. Cousin Died
James C. Robertson Pvt. Co. I, 3RD TN Cav. Great Uncle Survived
James E. White Cpl. Co. D, 11TH. TN Cav. Cousin Survived
Francis Riddle Pvt. Co. L, 3RD TN Cav. Distant Cousin Died
The Fate of The Sultana
Four years of the Civil War had ended,
The South had met with loss and defeat.
The Union soldiers were now going home,
Walking skeletons on sore feet.
Surviving Cahaba or Andersonville prisons,
While many others gave their life for all,
Before reaching their loved ones and friends,
When the death Angel did soon make the call.
They were brought to Vicksburg to go home,
Very happy as they stepped on the boat,
Too many were crowded on the little steamer,
The weight was so great it could hardly float.
In Vicksburg a boiler was repaired.
Leaving there they had all they could tow,
It was hard going up the flooded river,
The paddle wheel was turning very slow.
They had reached the island called Hen and Chickens,
The current was strong, the load was great,
The boat suddenly exploded with a loud crash,
It had never given any trouble until this date.
The Sultana was blown apart by the force,
The sleeping ones were cast high and killed,
Many were drown in the cold swift water,
Some were scalded and others were chilled.
The wreck lies under water in the old channel,
A number of loved ones are in the watery grave,
So many of our soldiers are still uncounted for,
While others happy future and lives they gave.
Today we are gathered here to pay them honor,
To those who were willing to go and fight,
We will always remember the great disaster,
April 27, 1865 at 2:00 o’clock in the night.
By Clinton E. Riddle