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USS Cairo was one of the first American ironclad warships built at the beginning of the U.S. Civil War. Cairo was the lead ship of the City-class gunboats and named for Cairo, Illinois.
Cairo served with the Army's Western Gunboat Flotilla on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and their tributaries until she was transferred to the Navy on 1 October 1862, with the other river gunboats.
On December 12, 1862, while clearing mines from the river, preparatory to the attack on Haines Bluff, Cairo struck a "torpedo" (or naval mine) detonated by volunteers hidden behind the river bank and sank in 12 minutes. There were no casualties.
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