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A Time Capsule in Mississippi

By Linda Tancs

The USS Cairo was sunk by a Confederate torpedo on December 12, 1862, in the Yazoo River, 13 miles north of Vicksburg, Mississippi. One of seven ironclad gunboats named in honor of towns along the upper Mississippi and Ohio rivers, it bolstered Northern hopes of regaining control of the lower Mississippi River and splitting the Confederacy in two. After its sinking, it remained engulfed in sand and silt until it was located and identified in 1956 and raised on December 12, 1964. Restored for display in Vicksburg National Military Park, its treasure trove of artifacts includes weapons, munitions, naval stores and personal gear of the sailors who served on board. The gunboat and its artifacts can now be seen along the tour road at the USS Cairo Museum.

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