Faber-Castell, Lea & Perrins, E. R. Squibb, and Goodyear Rubber. What do these companies have in common? In existence since at least the Civil War era, each manufactured items recovered from the Union ironclad gunboat USS Cairo, which was raised from the muddy bottom of the Yazoo River in 1964. More than a century earlier, on 12 December 1862, the ship had sunk only 12 minutes after Confederates ashore electrically detonated two torpedoes alongside her.
Although the Cairo's war record was disappointing for the Union, what she took with her when she went down has proved a boon to historians. Because she sank so quickly, crewmen were unable to save most of their belongings. The personal artifacts subsequently recovered—items such as pencils, bottles of Worcestershire sauce, medicine bottles, combs, and buttons—provide glimpses into the everyday life of the Civil War Sailor.