On the way to a paddle wheeler passenger vessel project at Cape Girardeau, I passed Vicksburg and decided to stay the night. The next morning I took a quick drive through the Vicksburg battle field and came upon the USS Cairo, the remains of a Civil War era ironclad river gunboat that is now beautifully displayed at the battle field.
The vessel is part of the amazing story of the seven City Class river gunboats. With the Civil War looming, it became apparent that absolute naval dominance of the Mississippi river would be required.
The Union needed gunboats upriver quickly and the solution was provided by two unsung maritime greats; Samuel Pook and James Eads. Pook designed an excellent ironclad river paddle wheeler gunboat and Eads, a Mississippi salvor and brilliant self taught engineer, became the builder. read more »