Not All Sultana Deaths Were Immediate


This article is from the spring 2008 newsletter Sultana Remebered, which was written and maintained by Pam Newhouse. We are publishing articles from the past newsletter to give them new life and light and bring them to a wider audience.


Gilford (born 11-23-1843) and Isaac (born 6-03-1847) were sons of Pleasant and Martha (Stapp) Morrison. They enlisted on February 20, 1864 at Cleveland, Tennessee. Isaac was only 17 years old when the Sultana exploded. When Gilford informed the family his intention to enlist, Isaac, age 16, begged to enlist also. Pleasant, their father, allowed his young son to go to war. After the brothers left, Pleasant was despondent and on June 30, 1864, he joined the 3rd (Mounted) Tennessee Infantry at the age of 45. He signed on for 100 days. The copy of his muster-out roll dated December 13, 1864 indicates that he left his regiment on November 30th, 1864.


After the Sultana disaster and he was notified of the death of both his sons, Pleasant was deeply depressed and talked about killing himself. The family watched him closely all of the time. On March 30, 1868 he was plowing a field while a grandson was sent to watch him. Pleasant asked the grandson for his Barlow knife to repair the reins. The grandson forgot, as he had been told, to ask his grandfather to return the knife. Pleasant plowed to the other end of the field, stopped, sat down under a tree, and cut his throat. He died in the back of a wagon on the way to a doctor. The Sultana disaster took one more life than was credited to it.


Note: Gilford, age 22, and Isaac, age 17, both died in the Sultana disaster. Gilford died on April 29 of severe scalds sustained in the explosion, and was buried in Memphis National Cemetery. Pleasant took his life in 1868.

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