tv The Civil War Recovering the USS Cairo CSPAN March 31, 2019 11:05am-12:01pm EDT
and shaped each other's strategies and brought us to the present day, that is what i would like to do next. >> we look forward to that research. benjamin francis fallon, thank you for being with us. >> think so much, appreciate it. americane watching history tv. all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. in 1956, while working as a historian at the vicksburg national military park, edward -- edwin barrs set out to preserve the union warship sunk in 1862 during the civil war. of next, he details the challenges his team faced in removing the shift from the yazoo river.
this took place at the appomattox court national historical park. certainly doesn't need an introduction, but i will give a brief one for those of you who might not know, he really is a legend in historic civil war -- in civil war historiography. joined theschool he marines, served in world war ii and was seriously wounded, spent two years of a hospital. after the war he received a bachelor's from georgetown, masters from indiana university, best known for his work at the national parks service and for his books. park historian in vicksburg, chief historian of the national in 1995.vice published many books primarily related to the war, most famous for his three volume campaign history of vicksburg, which is viewed as a classic. legislation was
introduced to award him a congressional gold medal for his contributions to civil war preservation and history. his talk today is recovering the yazoo.ro from the >> thank you so much. [applause] down to pleasure being where we are today. down to longwood university, to talk about the raising of the cairo. now, if you want to find out how to raise a vessel, you will not do it the way we do it. vicksburg ind at on duty inered vicksburg. after i had been there about a
year, the superintendent called me and, mr. mcconaughey, and said -- ed, i want you to see if you can find the gunboat cairo. it was one of seven city series ironclads built by the united states. and i said yes, i would be interested. and, and, i knew the vessel was not under fire when it was sunk. i knew a fixed location of where 20 mileswas roughly north of vicksburg. so, i immediately started asking locals. bluff. to the
i said, i think you know where it is? they say it's light down below you. -- they say it's right down below you. i wonder, have i been wasting my time? i told the local yokels that that is a raft that the confederates placed across the yazoo river to keep union gunboats from extending the yazoo river. -- you are just a yankee historian. [laughter] pissed me off, because that is an insult if you are in vicksburg. i do research and i run into the manager, dr. wall: johnson. he was too familiar with the
river. because he's going to ground in the operation cairo. never think that you know more about a major river. some research and we came to the conclusion that the cairo was sunk in the yazoo river about just below drum goals bluff. now, this is a picture of the cairo. ships one of seven sister on theed after cities ohio and mississippi river. by information a geologist onn, armistice day.
i refuse to call it veterans day. in 1966 we got a non-jack small boat and went up the yazoo river. and here you see the map of the area. you see vicksburg. river, you up the are going to see it at that time floating in the mississippi at the head of the point. you look up the river and you are going to see lake's plantation. , we think wehere have found the site of the cairo. we run into two school at iser's. parks is a television personality in mississippi. hart, ar one is skeeter united states marine.
they are both scuba divers. enthusiasm, but not much heavy equipment. so, on mid-september we have bile -- borrowed a world war firefrom the jackson department, which you can see in the middle of the river. we have a lot of enthusiasm. if you are learning about how to raise gunboats, don't do what we do. [laughter]
it's cocooned in mud at the bottom of the yazoo river. we needed heavy equipment. on onenext-door neighbor side was agnes anderson. the largest company in the state of mississippi. i had a lucky break. they were ready to raise the pilothouse. to show that the vessel is there and there. agnes's boyfriend was bart.
bart brings agnes home one night. if you touch the accelerator of the car, the car is not in park , it goes ahead with considerable power. the car ran into the back of my car. [laughter] who shows up the next morning? she says ed, you know that we are that way. last night he gave me a good night kiss and stepped on the accelerator when the car is in gear. and glam. blam is i going to cost you a cent.
all you go do is pick it up at the end of work at 5:00. but she says if you ever need any help from bart, come to me. because living across street on the other side of us is marie pendley on oh. -- pantaliano. she would be the town gossip. partone would know that and agnes were courting. she said that if you ever need any help, see me. that's the only part of the vessel not buried in the mud of the river.
we go up to the river there from the pilothouse. and then in the afternoon, the mayor of vicksburg, like all politicians, is very happy to get the name of vicksburg as a centennial city for the civil war. gos over in jackson, so i , see bart andes get him to come up the river with that heavy equipment. we will get back to the other one in just a moment. there comes the riptide, pushing a a-frame onwith the front. a dragline on the rear. we share them and they report
its 6:00 in the evening, it's getting dark. getting time for the mayor to show up. earlier they had tried to use fortunately they of an a-frame on the front it that would lift 50 tons. we maneuvered into position. they dropped down there. they passed the wire through their. just as it was getting dusk, up comes something no one had seen.
the pilothouse of cairo. inch and a half of armor, backed by 24 inches. meanwhile, pulling my leg. heart goes down and what comes up now is a 10 inch navy gun. gun,, theoes the carriage comes up. the carriage had been made of green oak. it's beenof -- somewhat strengthened. so, there is the pilothouse. it gets everybody enthusiastic in pittsburgh. -- of vicksburg. they say we are going to give you some money.
sunken ships, you get to know lots of nuts. [laughter] i knew my first speaker here, he met his share of nuts. my not his jackson. he's a scuba diver. you always have to worry about scuba divers. and he says he's bringing his new england maritime museum down here from newport, rhode island. and we are going to remove the mud from the cairo. we're doing it cheap. they are going to construct an airlift.
cairo,ou can see the they have removed the casement. it has been removed. there you can see the spiders. it's roughly 130 feet in length. feet wide on the keel. to keep them from salvaging the other aboard. we get a lot of enthusiasm. when you look at these pictures coming up now on the left, the guy, we get centered -- the
well in this working crew that we have, we will see the units from charleston with personnel. is a city guideline in the guard is from the prisoners. prisoners like to get out a prison. this is the second canon that we bring up. and we are ready to go to the next slide. if we had been smart, we would have started charging people to see the cairo and the operations , always raising a cannon on the weekend. because you think big crowds.
and it's the worst time to live in mississippi if you are a freedom writer. -- freedom writer. there will be several grim murders. buried within the dam of an earthen dam. waiting for the fbi to break the case. as they are sitting around on , they are arming the gun. that's the officer in charge, disarming the canon.
what we should have been doing, running excursion boats up there that people watched and charged for. but we don't do it. we raised some money. with the money we are going to raise, a good world -- goodwill person on the civil war challenge. that gives us $40,000. will go to work raising the cairo. all right, we are going to do it cheap. , to remove the, the silt from downstream, upstream, backout stream, it's going to take us about 30 days. so if you are wearing a p jacket , we constructall
we designed and remember, we removed all the cocoon from the sand and the silt of the cairo had sunk into and built up over the ages. the cheapest way, the bank had a lot of trees on it. this was three months later and you don't see many trees. in fact, this is very close to the november day in which jack kennedy was assassinated in the third week of november of that year. they are 240 feet long. they are 40 feet wide. is sink one to do
now, the most common thing on the vessel when you went to the shackles, you did not get them locked on you. you slipped it through the two rings. you had a pin, you slipped it through, and that means you had trouble getting it off. the officers had this in all of their quarters. this was made by wedgewood. we let wedgewood know we brought up some of their bowls and pitchers, and they decided not. in the cairo, there were two explosive areas.
this is a copper lantern. it stands -- if i was standing there, it would be standing about midway between my belt and my glasses. that's how tall it is. it is of copper. they have a whale on the left, and behind it they have a reflector to get the light forward into where the men will be working, in an explosive area that you do not want to be if it blows up. there was one in the porch magazine, one in the starboard magazine. then there is the buckeye bell foundry. that is the bell. we had cleaned the bell up. the bell, when it came up, was very muddy. lots of mud in it.
we had a guy that was into musical instruments and he would use a wire brush and got the bell as shiny as it would be. there we have all small stuff up there. there you have medicines. bedpan.u have a if you are a hospital, you use bedpans, and bedpans ain't very comfortable. [laughter] mr. bearss: we have now moved into a new year. we are out of 1941. we are into 1942. we have done very well, so well that the county board of supervisors says, we have appropriated $60,000 to aid you
in your work. so we are going to have to do most of that work over again, because we had tried to -- we were going to try to raise the cairo. we would have four floating drudges that would be sent up the river. one is ajax. one is boaz. the biggest one is named cairo. it would lift a thousand tons. we are using major wire. if you look closely, where you where the red was
was where the wire was in the water at the day we were lifting. if you want to know how big the cairo is, that dredge would lift almost 9000 tons. that a frame stands more than 70 feet tall. the hook is 165 feet. bad for new orleans. why is it bad for new orleans? you couldn't get the cairo barge up the river because the river is too shallow. they get one of these one of the hurricanes come in and we can
get cairo up the river and up the yazoo river and to the site. we are moving to october of 1963. what we planned to do is lift cairo in a nest of wires, which are three inches in diameter, lift it out of the grave in which the cairo has rested since she went to the bottom. here, everything is going good. this is the last good day we are going to have. [laughter] we have deployed.
this is boaz. there is cairo. there is atlas. on the river was ajax. we have the river blocked with floating barracks. now it is sunday. he says ed, why don't you go listen to the football game? i use a low-pressure steam in my boilers on my cranes. i come back and boy, am i happy. there is the first part of the cairo that has been above water. that would be the section of the vessel on the right side of the casement shield.
now, that is the first part of the vessel to see above water, that slide. that is the only picture because it needs to be raised more. we have got to bring it more. what we should have done, we knew that bezo and his sister were not happy with each other because each one wants to inherit papa's business. we should have said is you ought to keep your vessels up here because you are in mississippi. you are out of jurisdiction of the louisiana courts. here, you can see, it shows we have got it raised. you can see pretty well -- actually, these show up better. there is the bow of the vessel.
you can see the wash of the water. there, you can to the cairo shows up much better here. all of a sudden, these wires clang. they are three inches in diameter. the cairo's hull is wood not iron. it only has iron around the casemate and casemate shield. bezo says, we are going to have to cut the vessel in parts. here, we are doing that. there, you can see all the four barracks in position. remember, that a frame is 140 feet high, just to give you an idea. the wires were three inches in
diameter. cairo, right now, is resting in that area between the floating derricks. next slide. now, a real disaster strikes. remember, i told you, i'm going to tell you how not to raise a vessel because the board of supervisors has given me $60,000. i go up to the twin cities. everything have been going good when i went to the twin cities. i arrived there and what we have done, we had picked up the cairo and dropped the cairo down and put her on one of those barges. remember, those barges are roughly 40 feet in width.
we find out the river was rising fast. and, the stern of the vessel was on that. where is it now? it is in the wires. it is crushed, is a catamaran and it is crushed. they were happy when i arrived because it was 20 below in the twin cities. beyond the twin cities, i'm now dejected again. now, we going to bring the vessel up in three parts. as you can see, there is the casemate shield. that is 2.5 inches of armor. this points upstream.
it is 2.5 inches of iron, ship glass iron. backed by 24 inches of oak. that is where the vessel is going to take the heavy hitting. we're going to bring up the bow of the vessel. the forward third of the vessel. the vessel is roughly 90 feet in length. there, we can see again, another view of it. next slide. all right, now the worst happens. the midships, which has the engines and the boilers in, has turned 90 degrees. if it was 90 degrees, everybody would be cheering, but it is now 90 and 90, that is 180.
the midships of the vessel is at right angles of where it should be, which means we are not doing very well. next slide. so we have had to dismantle. these are three of the five boilers. each of these boilers is 240 inches in length. i'm out there. here i am the next slide, i'm working right behind where the bow of the vessel had been separated from the midships of the boiler. i am pretty happy that day.
this part of the vessel had been jerry-built with armor. that is railroad rail. next slide. this is the mud. this is really mud. here's the rear third of the vessel. the vessel was catamaraned. in the area, the two sponsors are divided by the paddlewheel. here, we have got a guy out there. there is one of the two sponsons of the catamaran. you can see the river is very muddy. here is what we should have done. this is on the 12th day of december. 1932.
the cairo had sunk roughly 30 years before. see how the banks of the river have been stripped of the timber. cairo will be taken down, and on these big barges and positioned off the seawall. next slide. now you're into the vessel. that is soap. soap would have all dissolved in the water. there, you have some tobacco. that is palm soap. you are inside the vessel.
next slide. this is in the magazine. the magazine is sheeted in lead, secured by copper nails. a lamp goes in each end of one of the magazines. otherwise, you can have a big explosion. there is what the powder is stored in. it is bagged. the linen bags have generally deteriorated. if you are working in the magazine, there is your walkway. you go back and forth and you get powder to the left and the right and send it up to the deck. now, we're looking at the vessel's construction.
this is one of the two anchor chains. to give you a scale, there is an ordinary pen. now, you have a cat stand which turns and will bring you the anchor chain in. so you can see the armor. how is the armor fastened? ship lap, just like when you are building your house. ship lap and if it's solid -- it fits solid together. next slide. this is looking across the deck. the other picture would be looking that way. this is looking to the left. there, you can see where the other anchor chain would have gone as she is brought in by the captain below. you can see, the armor is
secured in two inch diameter pins. you heard selfish mentioned earlier, selfridge is a graduate of annapolis. he is not up from the mid-shipmen score. this could be his belt buckle. if you are in sick bay, this is porcelain. if you are in sick bay, you are in your , the foreman comes in and give you something to drink. this comes out of a sailor's housewife. there is a key, needles, thread, buttons. there, you can say, some say they are lonesome for the deep sea.
this is very important. as polyethylene glycol, it looks like the sailor just finished. if you don't have polyethylene glycol, you will recognize that. there's a boot pistol. officers provided their pistols. now, you can see, your toothbrush looks just the same then as now, except it hasn't any bristles on it. this is canister on the left. that is grape shot. if you say grape and canister, they are not interchangeable. there, you can see tobacco.
pete long tries the tobacco. there, you can see lots of shells. now, you can see this boot has a lapse. we knew the vessel had intercepted people smuggling boots across the mississippi river from memphis to the other side of the river. this is a boot. archaeologists love pipes. why? because pipes, you can date a pipe very clearly on the pipe stem. archaeologists love that. they will forgive us for some of the damage we have done.
of course, this would be the shackle. that would have been originally issued to the massachusetts militia. the marine detachment unit would be wearing that. most of the coins of cairo were drilled. you wore them in your ear. next slide. this again, the lesson of preservation. esme hadn't changed a bit in over 110 years. if you don't use polyethylene glycol, you are going to get objects that have lost their configuration. esme is perfect. this is very rare. these are direct sighting
devices for the big cannons. it must have a not very good because these were all down in the magazine. as you can see, it hasn't changed a bit. how do we know we got the cairo? how many of you guys were in the navy during world war ii? if you were in the navy during world war ii, you wore a flat hat. around it, they have a silk film in the name of the ship. now, everybody knows what the cairo was. if you are on monitor, that would be saying monitor instead of cairo. senator stennis, if you are playing politics, you have two
senators from mississippi at that time. eastland is living in the middle ages as the segregation. stennis is not. stennis is very liberal on that. he tells us, boys, as soon as we are out of korea, i'm going to get you $3.5 million. stennis is a man that can get you $3.5 million because he is on the appropriations subcommittee. they decide we are going to exhibit the cairo. because the vessel has lost barges, so we are going to do it like you do one of these articulated dinosaur skulls. you are going to see this wood,
you are going to fix the arm or two, and that is going to be giving the configuration of the casemate. you can see what the vessel would look like. next slide. again, you can see how the armor fastens on. next slide. those are the guns in possession. all 13 guns were saved. next slide. how do you describe it? you have the artifacts and you have got to be careful because if the good ladies are cleaning up a piece of glass, they may take the emulsion off.
if they don't take the emulsion off, the picture is still good, as you can see. there is this carving. there is a wash we got. these are various parts that are part of the some of the objects we have saved. next slide. this shows the ordinance. they have separated it out by degree. next slide. that is where she is exhibited now. that is the navy monument in vicksburg. there is that old bend from the mississippi river. cairo is under that shed, sheltered. that is a story of the cairo. that is very interesting.
again, notice what i said. if you are going to find a gunboat, and you are going to raise it, don't use what we did. we were always short of money. that was a big thing. we probably could have had some clout with bezo if we would have said, if you don't stay here longer, let the river pool, where going to tell your sister that you are hiding heavy equipment. that is the story of cairo. [laughter] it occupied a lot of my time. we were very lucky. george comes up there one day and got very interested in cairo and we began to get money. that is the story.
[applause] >> if anybody has a question, if they would come back to the microphone to state your name and ask a question. my question is, how did it sink? how did the ship sink? ed: the ship was sunk by an infernal machine, two infernal machines. an infernal machine is what we would call a mine today. it is set off by electricity. this man looks real tough there. he would be in a torpedo pit. as you know, you have two copper wires. what happens when you put them together? boom!
it would be what is a mine today. that is how she sank. the converters were very successful in them. >> we have a person coming to ask a question here. >> what date did it sink? ed: the 12th of december, 2011. [laughter] >> you sure? you sure it's sunk in 2011? ed: yeah. >> i think it was probably 1863, right? ed: yeah. >> since i have been there, i have a question.
once you took the boat from the river, the cairo, and you brought it, how did you get it up the hill through the cemetery? or from the river to the park and come up through the cemetery? or what? how did you get it up to where it sits now? ed: it was transported on one of those big fuel barges. cairo was transported on one of the big fuel barges. it went down to the shipbuilding, where they get what preservation they could do in the shipbuilding, and then it came back and was dismantled and is positioned like you can see the pictures here.
>> how did it get up the hill to where it is now for the cemetery? ed: it was floated down to vicksburg on this fuel barges. when they got to vicksburg, there was a big fight over who owns the vessel. does the county on the vessel? does the park service own the vessel? then, the vessel is moved by barge, just like you saw. all the way from vicksburg, down the mississippi river where the navy builds modern destroyers. >> how do they move it back to export? vicksburg? ed: they moved it in sections. >> by vehicles? ed: yes. >> thank you, ed. [applause] watching american
history tv, all weekend every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. >> next on lectures in history, randolph-macon college professor evie terrono teaches a class about african-american art in the 1960s and 1970s. she highlights how artists of the period created works reflecting on racism and the black is beautiful movement. her class is about one hour and 45 minutes. onmerrick in history tv is c-span3 every weekend and our programs are archived on her website at c-span.org/history. you can watch lectures of college classrooms and see our schedule of upcoming programs at c-span.org/history. >> our focus today will be on the ways in which