Saturday, December 12, 2009
The First Sunk
The USS Cairo along with six sister ironclad gunboats, were named for towns along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. These boats were known as “City Class” gun boat and were designed by Samuel M Pook. The Cairo carried thirteen cannon and was constructed in Mound City, Illinois.
The Cairo saw some action in May at Plum Point and again in June at the Battle of Memphis. It was on December 12th 1862 that she went down in history. The commander of the Cairo, Lieutenant Commander Thomas O Selfridge Jr was a promising, aggressive young officer. On the morning of December 12th 1862 Selfridge and the Cairo led a small fleet up the Yazoo River to clear the river of underwater mines and destroy a some Confederate batteries. About nine miles north of Vicksburg the Cairo come under fire. Selfridge ordered the gunboats turned toward the shore and guns readied. As she turned the Cairo experienced two quick explosions, tearing holes in her hull. She was sunk in 36 feet of water in less then twelve minutes. The Cairo was the first ship to ever be sunk by an electronically detonated mine.