Thursday, October 8, 2009

On the USS Cairo - a Civil War Ironclad

How cool would it be to actually go on board a Civil War ironclad that actually fought in Vicksburg? Well, today, we did just that. The USS Cairo fought in the Vicksburg campaign and was lost to a Confederate mine (called torpedoes back then). The ship sank in 12 minutes, but with no loss of life and rested on the bottom of the Yazoo River (which feeds the Mississippi) until 1964 when it was raised in several large pieces. Amazingly, much of the ship was still intact.

The National Park Service has re-assembled the Cairo using the original pieces whenever possible and it is amazing to see this large ship up close. You can see the actual timbers and iron plating that are original. Notice the damage to the port bow (at the right side of the photo) -- this is where the mine exploded.

Here, Rick is actually on the deck of the Cairo. Behind him is the bow and front guns. Amazingly, 175 men served on this ship -- bet things were very close then!

Behind Orinda is the actual paddle wheel. This was located in the center of the ship to protect is from shell fire. This also helped keep the draft of the boat as shallow as possible.

The iron plating was about 2" thick and rested on solid oak timbers. Apparently, this provided great protection against cannon fire (but not against mines).

Cody shows one of the original cannon that was used during the siege of Vicksburg. This gun, and many others like it, poured fire into the city for some 6 weeks before the city surrendered to U.S. Grant's forces.

Grant and Confederate General Pemberton met personally to discuss the surrender. Grant was so impressed with the Confederate resistance that he allowed the 30,000 defenders to swear they would quit fighting and go home -- they were not held as prisoners. Vicksburg was a most interesting place to visit!

1 comment:

Margie M. said...

Thanks for the photo reminder of a great place. We toured Vicksburg and the area several years ago and it was fantastic. Enjoyed your photos so much.

Margie M.