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Fairplay (Side-Wheel Gunboat)


The Navy retained the name carried by this vessel at the time of her acquisition.

(Side-Wheel Gunboat: displacement 156; draft 5'0"; speed 5 miles per hour; armament 4 12-pounder howitzers)

The side-wheel steamer Fairplay was built in 1859 at New Albany, Indiana; captured on 18 August 1862 during a joint expedition to Milliken's Bend, on the Mississippi; taken possession of by the Army; commissioned on 6 September 1862, Lt. Cmdr. LeRoy Fitch in command; and transferred to the Navy on 1 October 1862.

From the base at Smithland, Ky., Fairplay operated with other gunboats in cooperation with the Army, patrolling the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Ohio rivers, convoying troop transports and Army supply ships, and searching out and shelling concentrations of Confederates ashore.

On 3 February 1863, Fairplay was bound up the Cumberland from Smithland to Nashville, Tenn., around which a long campaign was in progress, guarding a convoy of transports. She and the five other gunboats of the escort received word that the garrison at Dover, Tenn., was under attack by a large Confederate force. The six gunboats sailed at full speed to disperse the main body of attackers, taken by surprise, then returned to complete the passage to Nashville.

Fairplay continued to operate in the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Ohio, on 3 December 1864, engaging a Confederate battery at Bell's Mill near Nashville. The next day, with Carondelet, she recaptured two transport steamers, previously taken by the Confederates and held at Bell's Mill. After patrolling the same area after the war, as well as the Mississippi, she was decommissioned at Mound City on 9 August and sold on 17 August 1865.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

8 March 2023

Published: Wed Mar 08 17:07:48 EST 2023