360° VR Panoramas of The Great River Road in Mississippi
USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum
Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi

I didn't expect to find a naval museum in the middle of the battlefield park, two hundred miles inland. But the USS Cairo represents the "brownwater navy" of riverboats that patrolled the Mississippi River and supported General Grant's campaign to capture Vicksburg

The Cairo is a wooden-framed ironclad steamship, a revolutionary new class of naval vessel in its day. Underneath the iron plate armor it is old-fashioned, with muzzle-loading cannons and a paddlewheel. But in 1862 it encountered a new class of anti-ship weapon, and was the first warship to be sunk by an electrically-detonated mine.

The Cairo sank in the Yazoo River just north of Vicksburg, and the anaerobic mud preserved it remarkably well. It was rediscovered and raised in 1964. The remnants were pieced together, supplemented with some modern elements, and in 1977 put on display at Vicksburg Battlefield. USS Cairo on Wikipedia.

" target="_blank">

Click on a thumbnail image to open an interactive 360° panorama in a new window.
Bow of the USS Cairo

Bow of the USS Cairo

Aside from their iron armor the City Class warships were conventional flat-bottomed wooden riverboats.

USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum, Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Date photographed: April 8, 2015
See location in Google Maps

Broadside cannons of the USS Cairo

Broadside cannons of the USS Cairo

Five cannons along each side and three facing forward gave these warships formidable firepower.

USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum, Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Date photographed: April 8, 2015
See location in Google Maps

Steam engine cylinders and piston rods on USS Cairo

Steam engine cylinders and piston rods on USS Cairo

A steam engine drove a wooden paddle wheel, all roofed over by the iron armor - it must have been incredibly hot and noisy inside.

USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum, Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Date photographed: April 8, 2015
See location in Google Maps

A muzzle-loading naval cannon on a wheeled gun carriage

A muzzle-loading naval cannon on a wheeled gun carriage

The USS Cairo carried thirteen 32-pounder smoothbore cannons, shown here on their original wooden gun carriages.

USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum, Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Date photographed: April 8, 2015
See location in Google Maps

Iron armor plate and gunports on the USS Cairo

Iron armor plate and gunports on the USS Cairo

Iron armor plate protected every part of the ship above the waterline except the rudder. But it didn't protect the Cairo from the fatal torpedo (mine) that sank it.

USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum, Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Date photographed: April 8, 2015
See location in Google Maps

USS Cairo Museum

USS Cairo Museum

The USS Cairo Museum includes many artifacts recovered from the wreck after 102 years under the water and mud, and an account of its salvage and restoration.

USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum, Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Date photographed: April 8, 2015
See location in Google Maps

Previous locality: Vicksburg Battlefield Next locality: Vicksburg-Riverfront