Return to DANFS IndexImage of an anchorReturn to Naval Historical Center homepage
flag banner
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships banner
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Paw Paw


A village in Van Buren County in southwestern Michigan.


(Center-wheel Str: t. 175; l. 120’; b. 34’; dph. 3’10”; dr. 6’; 4 mph.; a. 2 30-pdr P.r., 6 24-pdr. how.)


Fanny, a wooden, center-wheel steamer formerly named St. Charles, was purchased by the Navy at Chicago, III., 9 April 1863 from J. Van Vartwick; arrived Cairo, III. from St. Joseph, Mo. 13 April 1863 for conversion to a “tinclad” gunboat; renamed Paw Paw 12 May 18631 designated gunboat No. 31 on 19 June 1863; and commissioned 25 July 1863, Acting Master Augustus F. Thompson in command.


Paw Paw patrolled the upper Mississippi protecting Union communication and supply bases from guerilla attacks. She struck a snag and sank in Walnut Bend 6 August 1863, but was pumped out and raised by steam pump boat Champion No. 5. After repairs at Cairo she resumed patrol duty. From 10 October to 13 December, she supported General William T. Sherman’s operations on the Tennessee. In acknowledging the arrival of the gunboats, Sherman wrote Porter, “Of course we will get along together elegantly. All I have, he [Lt. Comdr. S. L. Phelps, the senior naval officer on the Tennessee River] can command, and I know the same feeling pervades every sailor’s and soldier’s heart. We are as one.” Sherman’s confidence was well founded. The joint effort solidified the Union’s position in the South’s interior and prepared for Sherman’s drive on Atlanta and ultimate thrust to the sea.


Through the end of the war, Paw Paw remained active in the Mississippi Squadron maintaining Union control of the vast river system which acted as the nerves and sinues of the South. She decommissioned at Mound City, III., 1 July 1865 and was sold at public auction there to Sol. A. Silver 17 August 1865.