Wilmington, DE DuPont Powder Mill explosion, Feb 1863


One of the Dupont's Mills Blows Up - Thirteen Persons Killed and a Number Wounded.

WILMINGTON, Del., Wednesday, Feb. 25.
The packing-house of DUPONT'S powder works exploded at 3 o'clock this afternoon. Fourteen persons were killed and several were badly wounded. Not a great deal of damage was done to the other works.

DUPONT MILLS, DEL., Wednesday, Feb. 25.
An explosion of one of the upper mills of High Yard took place at 2 o'clock this afternoon. Thirteen lives were lost, viz: James McKenna, Fergus Noones, Samuel Fisher, Samuel Fisher, Jr., Edward Devlin, Hugh Devlin, Richard McLaughlin, John Quirk, John F. Deban, John Higgerty, Thomas Clarksil, Thomas Dougherty, James Credan. The cause of the explosion is unknown.

The New York Times, New York, NY 26 Feb 1863
The Explosion at Dupont's Powder Mills.


The Philadelphia Enquirer gives the following particulars of the explosion at DUPONT'S powder mills in Wilmington, (Del.,) on Feb. 25:

"The explosion took place in what is called the packing mill. There were engaged at the mill at the time, some seventeen persons, and all of them with the exception of two, were killed at once. The coopers were the only branch of the operators at work, and it is thought that the explosion was caused by their work in packing powder in boxes, &c. There were at the time some fifteen or twenty tons of powder in the packing mill, which was of course entirely consumed, and everybody within the building at the time either killed or dreadfully wounded.

The casualties were as follows: -


J. McKenner, wh'lwright.
Fergus Noone, packer.
Sam. Fisher, Sr., packer.
Sam. Fisher, Jr., packer.
John Hagerty, cooper.
James Credan, cooper.
Thos. Dougherty, driver.
P. Rambo, wheelwright.
Edw. Devlin, packer.
Hugh Devlin, packer.
Jos. McLoughlin, packer.
John. Quirk, ---.
John Higgerton, ---.
Thos. Clarksir, ---.


Alex. Mitchell, engineer, Jas. Blessington, laboroer.

The building in which the explosion took place is a square structure, with thick brick walls and an iron roof. It is the nearest to Wilmington of the series of buildings connected with the powder mills, and is stationed on Brandywine Creek, about a third of a mile from either of the other mills, and three miles from Wilmington. Itis about seventy-five feet square.

The building was constructed with special reference to the probability of an explosion. The iron roof was so arranged that in the event of an explosion it would open like folding doors, and the force of the explsion would find vent through that channel. There was an engine-house and other apartments connected with the building, which were, of course, entirely destroyed.

There were several dwelling-houses in the immediate neighborhood of the mill, and they were all more or less injured. Furniture was thrown down and broken, windows smashed, and the porches and fronts of some of the houses were greatly damaged, but we are gratified to state, that as far as we have heard, no one not within the walls of the fated building was injured.

There was at the time of the explosion, a wagon, with four horses attached, aobut receiveing a load of boxes of powder. The driver of the wagon was killed, and also two of the horses, and the wagon itself was totally destroyed.

Strange to say the shock of the explosion was not more apparent in the city of Wilmington than in this city. Many of the residents of that place were unaware of the occurrence until informed of it some time afterwards. Beyond the fact that the windows and doors of houses were momentarily shaken, and a dull noise heard, no other casualty occurred in the city. Those who were in the street were made aware of the explosion by observing a thick black cloud of smoke arise in the direction of the mills. The effect was more apaprent in Chester than in Wilmington. The people of that town (Chester) were startled from their propriety by a violent shaking of windows, rattling of crockery, &c.

DUPONT'S MILLS are so arranged that it is impossible for an explosion to be productive of much loss of life or the material manufactured.

Each department connected with the manufacture of powder is separate from the rest, the whole forming a succession of mills that extend a distance of two miles on Brandywine Creek, and an explosion in one cannot possibly be communicated th either of the others. We mention this fact from the circumstance that many people suppose DUPONT'S MILLS to be one large consolidated establishment. The explosion yesterday, athough felt within a circumference of forty miles, and destroying some fifteen or twenty tons of powder and a number of lives of operatives, does not affect to any matrial extent the manufacture of that article."

The New York Times, New York, NY 1 Mar 1863