Civil War Sabotage: A History Detectives Special Investigation

Civil War Sabotage: A History Detectives Special Investigation

Tuesday, July 1 at 9:00 p.m.

The History Detectives Special Investigations team brings cutting edge tools to some of our biggest historical mysteries.

Each new hour-long episode asks probing questions behind a single iconic mystery from America's past. Three investigators team up to solve each case: Wes Cowan, an independent appraiser and auctioneer; Kaiama Glover, professor at Barnard College, Columbia University; and Tukufu Zuberi, professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

In the first episode, the HDSI investigate one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history. Officially, the death toll was 1,500. Unofficially, the count may have been far higher. When it mysteriously exploded on April 27, 1865, the Mississippi steamboat SS Sultana was packed with Union soldiers. The war had ended that month; at every stop more and more men clamored to board the homeward-bound ship, which blew up mid-river.

However, the story of the sinking quickly vanished from the papers. What really sank the Sultana?

Top image: The ill-fated SS Sultana in Helena, Arkansas on April 26, 1865, just hours before it exploded, killing 1,800 people. Can the History Detectives find out what caused the disaster?
At right: The HDSI team, left to right: Wes Cowan, Kaiama Glover and Tukufu Zuberi.