Mobile, AL The Great Magazine Explosion, May 1865

Artist's conception of havoc wrought by the great magazine explosion, as it appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, on June 17, 1865, photo from familyoldphotos.com

On May 25, 1865, in Mobile, Alabama, in the Southern United States, an ordnance depot or "magazine" exploded, killing some 300 persons. This event occurred just after the end of the American Civil War, during the occupation of the city by victorious Federal troops.

The depot was a warehouse on Beauregard Street, where the troops had stacked some 200 tons of shells and powder. Some time in the afternoon of May 25, a cloud of black smoke rose into the air and the ground began to rumble. Flames shot up into the sky and bursting shells were heard throughout the city. In the nearby Mobile River, two ships sank, and a man standing on a wharf was blown into the river. Several houses collapsed from the concussion.

On the heels of the explosion came fires, which burned until the entire northern part of Mobile lay in smoking ruins. A huge hole where the warehouse once stood remained for many years, a reminder of the disaster. - wikipedia.org

Read articles about the deadly and destructive "Great Magazine Explosion" in Mobile, Alabama on May 26, 1865 (below)


The Great Magazine Explosion, May 1865

During a portion of the construction of the George Wallace twin tunnels beneath the Mobile River from (1969-1973) I was a student/archaeological field assistant with the University of South Alabama. During what was termed "salvage archaeology" of the construction site, overseen by USA's archaeology dept,we uncovered a variety of munitions relative to the 1865 explosion. They ranged from cannon balls to several examples of artillery shells. In a number of cases they were still considered "live" and capable of exploding. In those instances we asked the assistance of local police and military bomb disposal units to render the shells harmless. However, during that time, a number of "relic" hunters accessed the site and made off with several unexploded shells. A warning was issued through the local news and media outlets of the danger to anyone possessing the shells. Fortunately, many were returned before any potentially deadly events happened. Whether all were returned I do not know. Hopefully, no one today has one sitting on a mantle or display case.
The twin tunnel excavations resulted in a vast number of artifacts, representing nearly 400 years of occupation by Spanish, French, English and Americans, being unearthed. Many, I assume, are on display at the Mobile City and Fort Charlotte Conde' museums.

GW Jones

Mobile Explosion 1865

My great, great grandfather apparently died in that explosion. I have never been able to find a list of those who perished. Do you know if one exists? Thanks!

Mobile Magazine Explosion May 25, 1865

A blood relative, Pvt. Henry Loser (incorrectly reported as "Dozer" in the Janesville, Wis. paper)was with the Wis. 29th Infantry during the occupation of Mobile. He was wounded by the Great Magazine Blast and survived. After a hospitalization he returned to Wisconsin.

Submitted by Jeff Brinckman thebrinc@yahoo.com