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U.S.S. Cairo Gunboat and Museum in Vicksburg, MS

The U.S.S. Cairo Gunboat and Museum displays the restored U.S.S. Cairo ironclad gunboat from the American Civil War and its accompanying historical artifacts.

By Braxton Shoop on January 23, 2014

Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, MS
Vicksburg / Staff Photographer

Located at the Vicksburg National Military Park, the U.S.S. Cairo Gun Boat and Museum is home to several historic artifacts from the American Civil War. The star attraction of the museum is the U.S.S. Cairo, which was a city class ironclad gunboat used by Union forces to take back control of the lower Mississippi River.

The Cairo saw action at Plum Point and the Battle of Memphis before being sunk in the Yazoo River north of Vicksburg on December 12, 1862, while on a mission to destroy gun batteries and clear underwater mines. Two Confederate soldiers sank the Cairo using electronically detonated mines, which made the vessel the first armored warship in history to be sunk by that method. The watery grave of the Cairo was discovered in 1956, and it was salvaged in 1964. The Cairo was installed in its current location at Vicksburg in 1977.

Several items recovered from the ship are now on display at the museum, including an array of carpentry and blacksmith tools; keys and locks; hammock hooks; a variety of pistols, muskets and shotguns; various cannon munitions like grape shot, explosive shells and canister rounds; sailors’ personal effects and cookware; medical equipment; miscellaneous maintenance items and wrist and leg irons for prisoners.

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