USS Fairplay (1859)

Commissioned: 6 September 1862
Decommissioned: 9 August 1865
Fate: Sold 17 August 1865
General characteristics
Displacement: 156 tons
Draft: 5 ft (1.5 m)
Propulsion: Side-wheel steamer
Speed: 5 mph
Armament: 4 - 12 pounder howitzers

Fairplay was a wooden riverine ship in the United States Navy during the American Civil War.

She was originally built in 1859 at New Albany, Indiana, for service on the Mississippi River and other waterways. She was pressed into service at the start of the Civil War by the Confederacy, but was captured by the 76th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment on 18 August 1862, during a joint expedition to Milliken's Bend on the Mississippi. The Union Army took possession of the ship, and on 6 September 1862, Fairplay was commissioned into Federal service with Lieutenant Commander LeRoy Fitch in command. She was transferred to the Union Navy on 1 October 1862.

From the base at Smithland, Kentucky, 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 steaming up the Cumberland from the Smithland base to Nashville, Tennessee, guarding a convoy of transports during a lengthy campaign. She and the five other gunboats of the escort received word that the garrison at Dover, Tennessee, was under attack by a large Confederate force. The small flotilla sailed at full speed to disperse the main body of attackers, taking them by surprise, and then returned to complete the passage to Nashville.

Fairplay continued to operate in the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Ohio rivers, and on 3 December 1864, engaged a Confederate battery at Bell's Mill near Nashville. The next day, with the USS Carondelet, she recaptured two transport steamers, previously taken by the Confederates and held at Bell's Mill.

Post War History

After patrolling the same area after the war, as well as the Mississippi, she was decommissioned at Mound City, Illinois, on 9 August, and sold 17 August 1865.


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