On August 23, 1864, the Union navy captured Fort Morgan, Alabama, breaking the Confederate dominance of the ports of the Gulf of Mexico. As the Union fleet of four ironclad and fourteen wooden ships sailed into the channel on August 5, one of the lead ships, the Tecumseh, hit a mine, at the time known as a "torpedo."
In reply to the warning, "Torpedoes ahead!" given by the forward ships, commander Admiral David Farragut called out, "Damn the torpedoes!" and, taking the lead with his flagship the Hartford, sailed over the double row of mines and into Mobile Bay.