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USS Cairo

During the civil war the south had a strangle hold on the Mississippi River. To help break this blocked the north commissioned James Eads to build 7 ironclads in 100 days. The Cairo and her 6 sister boats were called the brown water navy. They were designated "city class" boats and named for northern cities on the Mississippi.

In 1956 historian Edwin Bearss used a compass as a primitive magnetometer to locate the Cairo. The compass needle deflected consistently over a single point in the river. This proved to be her resting place for the past 100 years. She was salvaged in the 1960's

16 miles up the Yazoo River the Cairo hit an underwater mine and sunk in 36 feet of water. All hands were rescued by nearby boats. The Cairo carried a crew of 158 enlisted men and 17 officers.

5 side by side boilers powered the Cairo, burning 2,000 lbs of coal per hour. The steam drum across the top of boilers delivered steam to the engine.

The steam engine in the foreground drove the 15 foot wide, 22 foot diameter paddle wheel that was located inside the boat, protected by its armor plating. Today we would call is opening in the boat's hull a moon pool.

Sloping 2.5 inch thick plates covered white oak planks 12 to 25 inches thick. When the iron plates took a hit, their wooden backing kept them from shattering.

Each gun was manned by a 6 man crew.

The Cairo's crew added these iron railroad rails for additional protection

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