Coal Torpedo (Civil War)

“The coal torpedo, developed by Thomas Edgeworth Courtenay for use by the Confederate Secret Service, was a hollow iron casting filled with gunpowder, which looked like a piece of coal. When shoveled into the firebox of a Union steamboat or locomotive, it would explode, wrecking the boiler and possibly sinking the ship. These documents tell some of the story of how, when and why the coal torpedo was developed and used.”  Learn more at


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