DECEMBER 6TH, 1864: The USS Neosho, with Lt.-Cmdr. LeRoy Fitch aboard, embarked with three small steamers: USS Fairplay, Silver Lake and Moose and several Army transports and moved down the Cumberland River from Nashville to engage Confederate batteries near Bell's Mills, Tennessee.
The Neosho was an ironclad and took the lead and single-handedly engaged the Confederates. Fitch sailed to within 20-30 yards to test his ship's strength and to fire canister and grape shot at that distance: "Our fire was slow and deliberate, but soon had the effect to scatter the enemy's sharpshooters and infantry, but owing to the elevated position of the batteries directly over us we could do but little injury.
"The enemy's fire was terrific, and in a very few minutes everything perishable on our decks was completely demolished."
Fitch returned to Nashville with the lighter ships.