In December was an article on the front page of The Vicksburg Post about the selection of a new US quarter which makes Vicksburg almost unique - because only Vicksburg has the CAIRO! The USS Cairo had been a commissioned federal warship less than a year when Lt. Cmdr. Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr. guided the gunboat on the Yazoo River 148 years ago in December, to clear the channel of mines and attack Confederate batteries on shore.
After helping capture Memphis, the Cairo had been dispatched to Helena, Arkansas from where it was sent to the Vicksburg theater. The gunboat made it 16 miles from the Mississippi north of the city when two mines, or torpedoes, ripped open the hull.
No lives were lost, but the Cairo sank in 36 feet of muddy water in just 12 minutes.
Just over 100 years later, in 1964, the Cairo was raised from the mud, restored and moved to its current site at the Vicksburg National Military Park, where it attracts about 300,000 visitors a year. The famed gunboat will receive another kind of lasting recognition this year when it is depicted on Mississippi's coin in the U.S. Mint's "America the Beautiful" set, one of five state quarters that will be issued.
Tim Kavanaugh, supervisor of the Interpretive Ranger Division and licensed tour guide for the military park stated, "It's not a Southern coin but a United States coin. If it wasn't for the Cairo and ships like her, they would not be distributing a U.S. coin in Mississippi."
About the Cairo:
- The Cairo was built at Mound City, Ill. and its engines were made in Pittsburgh, Penn.
- The Cairo was order in September 1861 and commissioned Jan. 15, 1862, becoming part of the Army's Western Flotilla, but commanded by Navy Lt. Nathaniel Bryant. The ship was transferred to the U.S. Navy ownership October 1, 1862, 10 weeks before its sinking.
- A crew of 175 manned the gunboat.
- It cost $101,808 at 1861 valuation.
- The Cairo carried an armament of 14 heavy guns. The hull and casement weighed about 350 tons.
- Its maximum speed was six knots.
- On December 12, 1862, the Cairo became the first warship ever sunk by a "torpedo," or underwater mine.
- The sunken gunboat was located in the Yazoo river in 1956, and in 1964 it was raised and subsequently restored. It is on display at the Vicksburg National Military Park along with an adjoining museum.
Source: USS Cairo, Civil War Ironclad
A Dixie Lady Deer Hunter
Article by Fred Messina, editor of "On Target Outdoors" from The Vicksburg Evening Post on Friday, January 19, 1990. Photo by Bob Phillips.
Bob Phillips came up the other day with a photo of his wife Marian and a deer she got on Brown's Point New Years Eve. The deer was an 8-point with 16 inches of inside spread that weighed in at 190 pounds. A nice trophy in anyone's book. However, the tale Bob told is that this was Marian's fourth deer this year and he claimed that he would have done better than he did if he had not spent so much time hauling Marian's deer out of the woods. Come off it, Bob. We all know who the hunter was.