(IrcGbt: t. 512; l. 175'; b. 51'2"; dr. 6'; s. 8 k.; cpl. 251; a. 4 42-pdr. r. 3 8" sb., 6 32-pdr. sb.)
A city in Illinois.
Cairo, an ironclad river gunboat, was built in 1861 by James Eads and Co., Mound City, Ill., under an Army contract; and commissioned as an Army ship 25 January 1862, naval Lieutenant James M. Prichett in command.
Cairo served with the Army's Western Gunboat Fleet, commanded by Flag Officer A. H. Foote, on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and their tributaries until transferred to the Navy 1 October 1862 with the other river gunboats. Active in the occupation of Clarksville, Tenn., 17 February 1862, and of Nashville, Tenn., 25 February, Cairo stood down the river 12 April escorting mortar boats to begin the lengthy operations against Fort Pillow, Tenn. An engagement with Confederate gunboats at Plum Point Bend on 11 May marked a series of blockading and bombardment activities which culminated in the abandonment of the Fort by its defenders on 4 June.
Two days later, 6 June 1862, Cairo joined in the triumph of seven Union ships and a tug over eight Confederate gunboats off Memphis, Tenn., an action in which five of the opposing gunboats were sunk or run ashore, two seriously damaged, and only one managed to escape. That night Union forces occupied the city. Cairo returned to patrol on the Mississippi until 21 November when she joined the Yazoo Expedition. On 12 December 1862, while clearing mines from the river preparatory to the attack on Haines Bluff, Miss., Cairo struck a torpedo and sank.