1. Did you know … that on April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln’s autopsy was performed in the 2nd floor guest room at the front right hand corner (northwest corner) of the White House?
At some point on the day before, April 14, 1865, Lincoln is quoted as saying to his bodyguard, Mr. William H. Crook … “Crook, do you know I believe there are men who want to take my life? And I have no doubt they will do it …. I know no one could do it and escape alive. But if it is to be done, it is impossible to prevent it.”
2. Did you know … that Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris, the couple who attended the play at Ford’s Theatre with the Lincoln’s had a tragic ending.
On July 11, 1867, the Rathbone’s were married and began raising a small family. Over time, Major Rathbone became ill with severe mood swings. And then in 1883, while the family was living in Germany, Rathbone finally lost his sanity and attempted unsuccessfully to kill his children. He then shot and stabbed his wife to death. He also tried to kill himself but could not complete the job. After his arrest, he was found insane and sent to an asylum for the rest of his life. Rathbone died in 1911 at age 73.
3. Did you know … that on April 27, 1865 at approximately 2:00am, the worst marine disaster in United States history took place. The steamship SULTANA, blew up, caught fire and sank in the Mississippi River killing over 1700 passengers.
The Sultana had been contracted by the US Government to transport Union soldiers released from Confederate prison camps, up the Mississippi River to Ohio. In the early morning hours of April 27, the boiler(s) exploded destroying part of the ship and engulfing the remainder in flames. There were well over 2000 people on board at the time of the disaster (legally the Sultana was allowed to carry a capacity of 376 people). No confirmed number exists on the casualty and survivor count, however it is estimated that upwards of 1800 people perished in the disaster with another 700-800 surviving.
To put this in perspective, the Titanic disaster had a loss of about 1517 lives.
According to Wikipedia, the accepted cause of the tragedy was “determined to be mismanagement of water levels in the boiler, exacerbated by “careening.” The Sultana was severely overcrowded and top heavy. As she made her way north following the twists and turns of the river, she listed severely to one side then the other. The Sultana’s four boilers were interconnected and mounted side-by-side, so that if the ship tipped sideways, water would tend to run out of the highest boiler. With the fires still going against the empty boiler, this created hot spots. When the ship tipped the other way, water rushing back into the empty boiler would hit the hot spots and flash instantly to steam, creating a sudden surge in pressure. This effect of careening could have been minimized by maintaining high water levels in the boilers. The official inquiry found that Sultana ‘s boilers exploded due to the combined effects of careening, low water level, and a faulty repair to a leaky boiler made a few days previously.”
The reason so few people have ever heard of this disaster is because it happened when so much else was in the news of the day. The Civil War had just ended; Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated just two weeks before; but most prominent in the news was that Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, had been cornered, shot and killed the day before (April 26) in Bowling Green, Virginia.
LINKS to the SULTANA story:
To see the entire series, click here “SUMMARY OF THE “DID YOU KNOW” ABRAHAM LINCOLN SERIES (Parts 1-15)”
If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by three Lincoln experts: