Class: City Ironclad River Gunboat
Launched: December 1861
At: Mound City, Illinois
Commissioned: January 15, 1862
Length: 175 feet
Beam: 51 feet, 2 inches
Draft: 6 feet
Displacement: 512 tons
Armament: three Army 42-pounder rifles; three Navy smoothbore 64-pounders; 6 Navy smoothbore 32-pounders; one 30-pounder Parrott
Vicksburg National Military Park
3201 Clay Street
Vicksburg, MS 39180-3495
Fax: (610) 638-7329
Latitude: 32.37583, Longitude: -90.866632
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In the same year she was commissioned, USS Cairo had the dubious distinction of being the first armored vessel in the history of warfare to be sunk by an electrically detonated torpedo, today called a mine. On December 12, 1862, in the Yazoo River approximately 10 miles north of Vicksburg, Cairo was struck by two torpedoes, sinking in less than 12 minutes with no loss of life.
After 102 years beneath the muddy waters of the Yazoo River, Cairo was raised in 1964, by a group of private citizens who called themselves “Operation Cairo.” Currently on display within the Vicksburg National Military Park, Cairo is the only surviving vessel of her class. Original guns and carriages are mounted on the vessel. Visitors to the site can walk aboard a reconstructed portion of the gundeck and view the original engines, boilers, pilothouse and remaining iron. Adjacent to the outdoor vessel exhibit, the Cairo Museum exhibits smaller items recovered from the boat such as sailors’ personal possessions, cookware and weaponry.
USS Cairo is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Cairo‘s engines and boilers are Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks.