From This Week in Civil War History: Dec. 24-30, 1864 by Michael K. Shaffer.
Sailing toward Fort Fisher, North Carolina, Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter had 61 ships, the largest assemblage of American ships ever up to that time. Major General Benjamin Butler had 6,500 soldiers along with him. The object was to be an amphibious expedition against the huge sand fort.
Colonel William lamb and about 1,900 men held the fort and prepared for the forthcoming fight.
Butler had conceived the idea to blow up a Union ship loaded with gun powder. The old USS Louisiana, had 150 tons of the explosive stuff aboard it. During the early morning hours of Christmas Eve, Dec. 24th, the Louisiana was run aground near the fort and exploded. There came a lot of noise and repercussion, but no damage was done to the fort. Both Butler and Porter had hoped it would knock the fort into ruins.
The Original Big Bang Theory? --Old B-Runner