Categories: Invention and Technology, Samuel Colt, War and Defense

Colt’s Submarine Battery – Today in History: April 13

Navy-Yard, Washington
Navy-Yard, Washington, ca. 1800
– Department of the Navy, Naval Historical Center

On April 13, 1844, Samuel Colt blew up a schooner on the Potomac River off the Washington (DC) Navy Yard to demonstrate the effectiveness of his invention, the underwater electric mine or submarine battery. Operated by electric current, the mine had already successfully been used to sink the gunboat Boxer and the brig Volta in 1842 but the demonstration held on April 13, 1844, was made expressly for President John Tyler and his cabinet. The introduction of an underwater mine operated by an electric current is a Connecticut first.

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Documents

Pearce, Allen S. “Colt’s Sub-Marine Battery Mentioned in the Broadside: Premium Apparatus Electricity Yields to the Mandate of Science! Professor Pearce Will Exhibit His Apparatus ...” Gazette Office, 1854–1860. Connecticut Historical Society. Link.

Books

Lundeberg, Philip K. Samuel Colt’s Submarine Battery: The Secret and the Enigma. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974.
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