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City Point Explosion Nearly Kills General Grant

On 11 August 1864 an ammunition barge exploded near Grant’s headquarters near the Eppes Mansion “Appomattox” at Hopewell, Virginia.  The blast  killed over 200, wounding and maiming many more.  Over $2,000,000(US) in damage was sustained.  According to the report of Captain John Maxwell, of the Confederate Secret Service,  who along with a R.R. Willard penetrated the Union lines and made their way to the dock.  There on the deck of a supply barge, the  J.E. Kenrick, were some twenty to thirty thousand rounds of artillery amunition and some 75-100 thousand rounds of small- arms amunition. 

Next to the ammunition vessel was a canal boat loaded with Sheridan’s saddles being sent to Washington City to participate in the repulse of Early’s advance.  The explosion sent saddles flying like big-winged bats and the tack killed and wounded many in the area. 

The explosion killed the lemonade man who was the only authorized vendor of soft drinks at the depot. 

Maxwell claims in his report that the explosion was caused by a candlebox filled with 12Lb of explosive and a timer that he gave to a negro onboard the barge with instructions to “take it below as the your captain has requested “.  He had waited until he saw the captain leave the boat before he presented the “horological” device to the unsuspecting crewman. 

Nearby were Grant with his and Meade’s staffs and a Captain Clitz USN.

I’d say he got a good bang for his buck!  However the damage was soon repaired and operations continued to support the Petersburg siege until Robert E Lee’s army was brought to bay at the other Appomattox.





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