Butler's Powder Boat
Late in 1864, General Franklin Butler came up with an idea to to use a "Powder Boat" against Fort Fisher. General Butler come up with many idea's during the war. Many of them were very successful. He Tested a battery of gatling guns but they were recalled because President Lincoln did not think they were very good. Butler also experimented with the Balloon Corp. Butler biggest mistake happened in May 1864 when he let his Army get bottled up at Bermuda Hundred.
Washington Granted permission for Butler to go ahead with his Powder Boat expedition. He Took the USS Louisiana and striped her down of everything. The Mounted her with a fake smoke stack to make the Forts Sentry's think she was a Blockade Runner. Powder from all over the country was loaded into the boat. When loaded it was jammed with 200 tons of powder. There were various timed fuse's on the boat to set off the powder.
December 12 the Louisiana was towed out of the Chesapeake Bay towards the Atlantic. The Arrived on the 18th of December. The Army Trans-Ports were delayed and have not arrived yet. Admiral Porter decided that on Friday December 23, 1864 the Powder Boat will be towed to the Fort ad blow up.
The Powder Boat was towed and the fused lit. The captain aboard the the USS Wilderness, who towed the boat to shore, thought the boat was within 300 yard of the fort. He Misjudged the distance and he was over 600 yards away from the fort. At 10:30pm the fleet of Warships were ordered to empty the boilers so they would not burst when the ship blew up. The Fuses were lit at 12:00 midnight and the sailors then began to return to there ships.
1:18 Christmas Eve Morning the deadline arrived and no explosion. 1:30, 1:45 all arrived still nothing. Finally 1:46am Christmas Eve Morning the boat exploded. A enormous water spout followed the huge mushroom fireball that rose form the exploding boat.
In the Morning Admiral Porter looked at the fort. No Damage was done at all. All the powder boat did was shake up a few Sentry's and alert the entire Fort.