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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History By a Participant, March 15, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Hardluck Ironclad: The Sinking and Salvage of the Cairo (Paperback)
Ed Bearss is both one of the most knowledgeable Civil War historians of the present day AND one of the men who found the gunboat Cairo. "Hardluck Ironclad" is both Civil War history and modern archaeology... it details the history of the first warship in the world to be sunk by a mine and the story of the people who worked to raise her and display her at Vicksburg. Outstanding.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Story of USS Cairo - Civil War Union Ironclad, September 21, 2010
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This review is from: Hardluck Ironclad: The Sinking and Salvage of the Cairo (Paperback)
188 Pages, plus Detailed Appendix, Notes, and Bibliography detailing the history of the USS Cairo in the Civil War and her six similar city-named sister-ships that fought the inland river patrols during the Civil War. Very well detailed and documented. An excellent source for history buffs and those interested in the unique river operations during that period. A good insight into the trials and tribulations of a nation at war. The book has 34 pages of B&W photos, including those of the salvage and raising of the USS Cairo after she had rested unfound on the bottom of the Yazoo River (a Mississippi tributary), for nearly 100 years, and also at her current location in the National Park at Vicksburg, MS with restoration in-progress. The USS Cairo, is the only one of these ironclads that has survived the War, as a testimony to their important role in winning the war for the Union forces.

The only thing missing from this record was a better, more complete collection of photos and illustrations detailing the structure and appearance of this ship. This information is provided (without all the historic info specific to the USS Cairo and its resurrection from the deep) in "Union River Ironclad 1861 -1865", by Angus Konstam * Illustrated by Tony Bryan Union River Ironclad 1861-65 (New Vanguard)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Noteworthy Ironclad, February 8, 2010
This review is from: Hardluck Ironclad: The Sinking and Salvage of the Cairo (Paperback)
Do you want to know how to salvage a Civil War ironclad from a fast moving river? Then Bearss' book is a must read if you are having the problem of salvaging a 140 year wreck. Hardluck Ironclad was engrossing and kept this reader reading. It is a short book but packed with information. If you have heard Bearss (Ken Burns' Civil War or History Channel's Civil War Journal) speak; his passion for the Civil War is readily apparent and translates well into the book. The first part of the book is a well constructed but brief History of the war on the Upper Mississippi and construction of the City Class Ironclad Gunboats or the Pook Turtles. Other books discuss this time period in exhaustive (meaning minute details that just bore the reader) details but Bearss' pacing and focus is a great example for other Historians or amateur historians attempting to write a history of a ship. The second half of the book is the salvage which he was a major part of. Bearss doesn't make himself the topic or focus of the salvage but the ship remained his focus. Bearss brings interesting facts about the ship and the people involved that made the salvage less technical and more human interest. Truly a great book about an note worthy ship.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible story., April 7, 2013
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This review is from: Hardluck Ironclad: The Sinking and Salvage of the Cairo (Paperback)
Finding the ship was a miracle in itself, and the salvage and restoration was a great challenge. These vessels were fascinating examples of the complex technology needed for the job of reclaiming the river system from the Gulf of Mexico to the far North.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Events that make up history., May 18, 2012
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This review is from: Hardluck Ironclad: The Sinking and Salvage of the Cairo (Paperback)
A most interesting account not only of the ship it's self and what went into it, also of the part it played in the history of the civil war. Well writen and explained.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Two Book in One, May 17, 2014
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This review is from: Hardluck Ironclad: The Sinking and Salvage of the Cairo (Paperback)
This book, really two books in one, is the history of the USS Cairo one of seven City Class Ironclad River Gunboats built between August 1861 and Jan 1862 in Illinois and Missouri. It is also an excellent history of the battles of the river fleet up and until the Cairo was sunk by an electric torpedo, now considered an underwater mine. The ship went down in six fathoms of water in the Yazoo River with no loss of life on 12 Dec 1862.
The second book takes over at the time of the location of the sunken vessel and it then becomes the story of the discovery, recovery and ultimate the display of the Cairo at the Vicksburg National Military Park. This story is nearly as fascinating as the history of the ship.
Dr Bearss leads the reader from the discovery of the sunken ship on 12 Nov 1956 through 29 Apr 1979 when the final decisions regarding the how and where the relic would be displayed. The salvage operation didn’t go smoothly and the sunken wreck was received some damage and artifacts were lost during the recovery operation. The vessel recovery was completed on 22 Dec 1964 102 years after it was sunk.
Artifacts recovered during the salvage operation included everything from ordnance to personal items belonging to the crew. Through the recovery of these artifacts, we are allowed to meet and learn about some of the crew members.
With the recovery of the ship came care and storage problems. The timbers had to be kept wet to prevent rot and decay. The hulk weathered Hurricane Camille at a shipyard in Pascagoula, MS where it suffered more damage and valuable pieces of the ship were lost.
Along the road to the final display, there were battles as to who owned the vessel, and who, where and how it would be displayed. These battles played out in local political arenas and in Washington, DC; however, the wreck had to overcome the Viet Nam war and the Bicentennial of the Revolution before a final resting place was found. Ultimately the National Park Service placed the vessel on permanent display at the Vicksburg National Military Park in 1980 where you can see it today. It took 16 years and several millions of dollars from completion of the salvage operation in to the public display.
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Hardluck Ironclad: The Sinking and Salvage of the Cairo
Hardluck Ironclad: The Sinking and Salvage of the Cairo by Edwin C. Bearss (Paperback - June 1, 1980)
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