HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The ironclad U.S.S. Cairo sinks in the Yazoo River in Mississippi, becoming the first ship sunk by a naval mine.
Cairo hit the water in 1861, commissioned by the Union Army for the Western Gunboat Flotilla. In 1862 she transferred to the Navy. She participated in the operations against Clarksville, Tennessee, Nashville and Memphis. As Cairo was on minesweeping duty in the Yazoo River near Haines Bluff, she was struck by a naval mine exploded by volunteers hiding behind the river bank. She sank in about twelve minutes and all hands on board managed to escape.
Edwin C. Bearss, then a historian at Vicksburg Military Park and later Chief Historian of the National Park Service, focused his efforts in the 1950's to locate the wreckage of the Cairo. He found it in 1956. In the early 1960's attempts were made to raise the ironclad but she didn't successfully come out of the Yazoo River silt until 1965. She now rests in an outdoor exhibit near the U.S.S. Cairo Museum at Vicksburg National Park.