One of the great points of debate among Confederate leaders during the Civil War was the use of “torpedoes”, what today we call mines. President Jefferson Davis thought they were unethical and cowardly weapons, and was opposed to using them. But, as the Confederate war effort grew more dire a Confederate law, passed in a secret congressional session, authorized rewards for inventors of new waterborne technologies, including submersibles and mines.
This electric mine can be found at Fort Fisher SHS. The mine was anchored to the bottom of the river while insulated wires connected it to a detonating switch on land. When an observer activated the switch, current from batteries on land heated a platinum wire inside the mine causing the highly unstable fulminate of mercury to explode the charge.