The Steamer Sultana
Benjamin Houp was born in 1844.  He was a son of Thomas and Nancy V. (Hensley) Houp of Clay County, KY.  Civil War Records indicate that he was on board the ill-fated Sultana on April 27, 1865 when at 2:00 in the morning the Sultana exploded on the Mississippi River just north of Memphis, TN.  The Sultana was transporting paroled Union Troops, most of which were released POW's, back home after Lee's surrender.  The troops boarded at Vicksburg, Mississippi.  Over 1700 perished as a result of the boiler explosion.  In all, 2,300 + were on board the steamer which should have had a maximum load of only 376 persons. The Sultana's explosion and sinking was the greatest American maritime disaster of all time.  More perished in this accident than there were on the Titanic.
More on the Sultana
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Photo above is last known photo of the Sultana as she was taking on coal in Helena, Arkansas the afternoon before her explosion.
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According to family information, Benjamin Houp was involved in Wilson's Calvary Raid of March 22 to April 2, 1865.  On April 2, Selma, Alabama was attacked by Wilson's Union Forces.  It was during this raid that Benjamin Houp was believed captured.  He would have been taken to Cahaba Prison near Selma, Alabama.  His stay as a prisoner would be brief.

On April 9, 1865, CSA General Robert E. Lee would surrender the Army of Northern Virginia thus ending the Civil War.

Union prisoners from Cahaba Prison (and from Andersonville) were taken to Vicksburg, Mississippi where they were paroled on April 21, 1865.  At first  they boarded the Sultana in an orderly manner with an accurate listing of passengers being recorded.  Soon however, the swell became so large that it got out of hand and they clambered aboard wherever they could find standing room.  There were hundreds from Cahaba on board.  Finally, they were on their way home.

As amazing as the story of the Sultana sounds, it was not viewed as the biggest story of the day.  The report of the Sultana was buried on the 4th page of the New York Times.  What was the biggest story?  One must remember that less than a week after the Civil War ended President Lincoln was assassinated (April 14, 1865).  On April 26, 1865, John Wilkes Booth was killed.  The capture and murder of Booth took coverage away from the Sultana tragedy.
See Benjamin Houp's Pay Roll Records
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