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In 1777 Bushnell floated a large keg of explosive fitted with a trigger device against the 32-gun frigate HMS Cerberus.The charge was carried past Cerberus but blew up and sank a schooner anchored astern.During the 20th century great strides were made in the development of mine sensor systems intended to detect the presence of suitable targets.These are not only meant to ensure the mine actuates against the right target but also to make the mine actuate close enough to the target to sink or damage it severely.On 5 August 1864, Admiral Farragut led a United States Navy attack into Mobile Bay.Upon being told that three rows of mines (then commonly called torpedoes) faced his ships he ordered "Damn the torpedoes! Mister Jowell, full speed." Apparently his ships survived because the Confederate mines had been in the water so long that their actuation mechanisms had corroded and failed to function.Fulton tried the Dutch without success and then tried the French again.
However, he was foiled in his attempt owing to the ship's copper sheathing.
Some of these used controlled mines detonated via cables from the shore but the vast majority were moored contact mines, The success of later contact mines owed much to the invention of the Hertz horn.
This is a glass vial of electrolyte contained in a hollow lead horn.
During the War of 1812 the Americans laid what was possibly the first defensive minefield in order to keep British ships out of New York harbour.
By the end of the war the Americans used mines so extensively that British ships had to remain offshore.