DECEMBER 18TH, 1864: The USS Louisiana, Commander Rhind, arrived off Fort Fisher, having that day been towed from Beaufort, North Carolina, by the USS Sassacus, in company with Rear Admiral Porter and his fleet.
The Louisiana had been loaded with powder and was to be blown up as near Fort Fisher as possible in the hope of reducing or substantially damaging that Confederate work. (In other words, they were hoping the concussion from the explosion would knock the fort down since it was made of sand and turf.)
The day before, Porter had sent Commander Rhind detailed instructions, adding: "Great risks have to be run, and there are chances that you may lose your life in this adventure; but the risk is worth the running, when the importance of the object is to be considered, and the fame to be gained by this novel undertaking, which is either to prove that forts on the water are useless or that rebels are proof against gunpowder....
"I expect more good for our cause from a success in this instance than from an advance of all the armies in the field."