Confederate general had gift for blowing things up

On this day in 1864: Gen. Gabriel Rains of New Bern, whose use of land mines to stymie pursuing Union forces has already created outrage in the North, is appointed chief of the Confederacy’s newly created Torpedo Bureau. Under his supervision a variety of “torpedoes” (explosive devices he has patterned after a design by Samuel Colt) will be manufactured at Richmond, Wilmington, Mobile, Charleston and Savannah.

Confederate naval mines will sink about 58 Union vessels, some 1,300 land mines will be buried in the defenses of Richmond and two of Rains’ agents will detonate a bomb at the wharves of Ulysses S. Grant’s supply base at City Point, Va., that causes numerous casualties and $4 million in damages.