The Sinking Of The Sultana Was A Bigger Tragedy Than The Titanic -- But Not The Lincoln Assassination
On April 27, 1865, right after the end of the Civil War, the good ship Sultana was sailing its 2,137 souls up the Mississippi River. Most of the passengers were Union ex-prisoners of war who had survived defeat, disease and starvation to finally make their way back home victoriously. And then three of the ship's four boilers exploded and almost everyone was boiled alive.
Like another, much more famous ship, the Sultana was reputed to be a state of the art ship replete with modern safety measures. And like that other famous ship, it was hubris that sank the unsinkable ship. The Sultana only had a capacity of 376 passengers, but since the government had promised to pay $5 and $10 for each enlisted man and officer returned home, so the captain kept cramming them in like sardines. Inevitably, the strained engines exploded, causing eruptions of steam to boil passengers where they stood. To make matters even more tragic, since all the POWs were so frail and underfed, many who managed to jump overboard were too weak to swim to shore and drowned. All in all, about 1,800 souls perished during the sinking, 300 more compared to the Titanic's 1,512.
So if the Sultana was an even worse disaster than the Titanic, why don't we say that something is a mistake the size of the Sultana, or that someone is trying to rearrange the deckchairs on the Sultana? For that, it picked the worst month in American history to make said history. On April 15th, President Lincoln was assassinated. This led to a two-week-long manhunt for John Wilkes Booth until his death on April 26th, a day before the Sultana sank. By the time it hit the papers, America just couldn't muster the attention to flip past the front pages plastered with Lincoln to learn about their nations' greatest maritime disaster -- or prosecute the Sultana's captain, for that matter.
The Most Important Egyptian Tomb Discovery Was Upstaged By The Nazi Invasion Of France
Everyone and their mummy has heard of the splendors of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. The discovery of his tomb, and the many riches within, in 1922 caused a splash not seen in the dusty field of archeology since. But not even the grandeur of Tut could compare with another pharaoh finding only a decade later, except that the world was a bit busy fending off the greatest evil of modern history to pay attention.
In 1939, archaeologists discovered the tomb of Pharaoh Psusennes I, who is also known as the Silver Pharaoh. For obvious reasons, as he's the only pharaoh ever to be found buried in a silver coffin (which was more rare and valuable than gold at the time) and the gold masks, necklaces and other treasures buried with him were so opulent and ostentatious they make King Tut's baubles look like the kind you pull out of a vending machine at the arcade.