Battle of the Crater (Civil War Campaigns and Commanders)

American Civil War: Battle of the Crater
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The mine was T shaped. The main gallery shaft was feet long extending from the Union line to the Confederate line. The mine also had two side galleries the left gallery was 37 feet long and the right gallery was 38 feet long.

The side galleries ran along the Confederate line at a slight angle. On July 27th the side galleries were filled with 8, pounds of gunpowder, It took six hours to fill the mine with gunpowder. Ten feet into the entrances of both side galleries were packed with dirt and thirty four feet from the side galleries into the main gallery were also packed with dirt. Filling the Mine with Gunpowder before the Battle of the Crater. At am on July 30th General Burnside left his permanent headquarters and moved closer to the assault position near an artillery battery at the center of the Ninth Corps line. Here he would be able to oversee and command the assault. It was an extremely dark night, it was so dark that General Grant asked General Burnside if he wanted to delay the mine detonation until it became lighter. Burnside declined the offer and said the mine would be detonated at the scheduled time of am. At am Burnside and his officers felt great anxiety and were nervously anticipating the explosion.

The minutes began quickly ticking by with no detonation. Burnside assumed it was simply a calculation error and the fuse was taking longer then they originally estimated. Burnside not knowing why it was delayed sent a message to Colonel Pleasants at the mine to find out what was causing the delay. General Meade becoming more agitated told Burnside that if the mine had failed he was to order his men to attack anyway. General Meade was ordering a night attack against heavily entrenched Confederate lines. Burnside delayed ordering this attack so he could find out why the mine had not exploded.

The fuse being used was ninety-eight feet in length running from both side galleries through the main gallery extending outside of the mine. The length of fuse needed was not available so two fuses were spliced together. An officer and a sergeant of the 48th Pennsylvania bravely entered the mine and found that the fuse had failed at the splice.

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They quickly spliced it back together and re-lit the fuse. Eleven minutes later at am the mine exploded. The blast buried a regiment of Confederates and opened up a large crater in the ground roughly feet long, 50 feet wide and 25 feet deep.

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The explosion also had an effect on the Union troops who were making the initial assault. It caused some confusion and anxiety in the line resulting in a delay in the attack. It took roughly five minutes for the men to clear the obstacles in front of their line and leave the trenches. It took another ten minutes before they reached the crater. This fifteen minute delay gave the Confederates time to recover and begin to respond to the Union advance.

When the First Division reached the crater instead of going around it as ordered they went directly into it and stopped. The mine exploded under a Confederate fort, this left massive amounts of debris in and around the crater making it difficult to navigate, also the Confederate line near the crater was not made up of a single line of trenches, it was a complex maze of trenches, bomb proof shelters, pits and traverses.

All of this caused great confusion in the Union ranks. At first there was little Confederate resistance. If the men in the First Division were drilled, trained and properly led for this assault they could easily have continued on and taken the crest at Cemetery Hill as planned.

Instead the First Division sat in the crater for fifteen minutes trying to organize and decide what to do next. While the Union troops were massed in the crater not sure what to do next Confederate Brigadier General William Mahone quickly organized his division and gathered together any other troops he could find.

General Mahone concentrated his troops in a semi-circle around the crater and began firing into it with rifle, artillery and mortar fire. The First Division was continually ordered to leave the crater and capture Cemetery Hill which was yards away. The men refused to leave the protection of the crater.

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Papers, and no date, of George S. Tax returns, Accession Letter, 6 January Letter, 12 September , from Thomas Rufus Barnes d. Alexander, Peter Wellington.

He was safe behind the lines in a bomb proof shelter and did virtually nothing during the attack except send a few orders saying they need to advance and take the crest. Burnside, however, was more magnanimous, describing the Fourth Division as having marched "gallantly under the first fire and until their ranks were broken. Grant and Meade focused their fury on Burnside and Ledlie, who were given leave with no orders to return. Ledlie not to mention Ferrero clearly shirked his duty, while Burnside's failing was more subtle.

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There is no evidence he knew of Ledlie's incompetence, but it seems reasonable to say he should have known. His leadership style was hands-off to a fault, and at the Crater, it contributed to his undoing. When members of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War investigated, however, they pointed a finger at Meade. With his sister-in-law married to former Virginia governor Henry A.

Wise , Meade was no friend of the Radical Republicans who dominated the committee. He should never have reversed Burnside's plan to send Ferrero's men in first, they said. But he did, of course, and the Petersburg siege lasted another eight months, the longest siege on U. Wolfe, B. Battle of the Crater. In Encyclopedia Virginia. Wolfe, Brendan.

Battle of the Crater Initial Plan of Attack

The Battle of the Crater (Civil War Campaigns and Commanders Series) [Jeff Kinard] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. July Grant's . The Battle of the Crater was a battle of the American Civil War, part of the Siege of Petersburg. Commanders and leaders. Ambrose E. Burnside · James H. Ledlie .. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. 4 vols. New York: Century Co.

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 26 Jun. Thank you! Thanks to your advocacy efforts on our behalf, we're happy to report that the recently passed Omnibus Spending Bill includes a very small increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities! While our work is not over with regards to the upcoming budget to be passed in the fall, the Omnibus Spending Bill represents an endorsement of the important work that the humanities do for our communities.

These funds will continue to support our work of providing free access to authoritative content about Virginia's history and culture. Grant Robert E. Lee Strength Engaged 16, 9, Casualties 3, 1, Battle of the Crater Contributed by Brendan Wolfe The Battle of the Crater, part of the Petersburg Campaign , was the result of an unusual attempt, on the part of Union forces, to break through the Confederate defenses just south of the critical railroad hub of Petersburg , Virginia, during the American Civil War — But if you go on in your mad career, we will come again soon … " There was a sense all around that the war was coming to a head.

Time Line June 25, - Members of the 48th Pennsylvania, miners led by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pleasants, begin digging a long tunnel to the Confederate lines in front of Petersburg. July 17, - Members of the 48th Pennsylvania finish digging the main shaft of a long tunnel to the Confederate lines in front of Petersburg.

July 18—29, - Having already completed the main shaft of a long tunnel to the Confederate lines in front of Petersburg, members of the 48th Pennsylvania dig a T-shaped explosives chamber. They pack it with four tons of gunpowder.

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July 28—29, - Union general George G. Meade and general Ambrose E. Burnside discuss their plans ahead of the Battle of the Crater. Meade overrules Burnside's intention to send in first his fresh black troops. Burnside asks his remaining commanders to draw straws. July 30, , a. At least men—mostly South Carolinians and Virginians—are killed instantly. The explosion digs a crater more than feet long, 60 feet across, and 30 feet deep.

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July 30, , 5 a. During the next seven hours, they will lose nearly 4, casualties compared with the Confederates' 1, Union general Ambrose E. Burnside will lose his command as a result. Lynchburg, Va. Howard, Carter, John C. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, Freeman, Douglas Southall. Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command. One-volume abridgment by Stephen W. New York: Touchstone, Marvel, William. Robertson, James I. Simpson, Brooks D. Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity — Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, Slotkin, Richard. No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, New York: Random House, Civil War letters, Typescript copies of letters, , from A.

Barclay comments on camp life and conditions and on the death of General Stonewall Jackson and the changes in organization as a result and upon the assumption of command of the Union army by Ulysses S. Grant Barker, Moses. Barker ca. Barker describes picket duties, rations he receives, and religious services he attends. He discusses news of acquaintances in the army and asks after family and friends in Pittsylvania County.

Barker offers advice concerning the education and upbringing of his children. He also mentions the battle of Big Bethel and fighting around Petersburg, Virginia.

American Civil War: Battle of the Crater

Collection includes a letter from Barker to his daughters Martha J. Barker providing fatherly advice. Many of the letters are nearly illegible. Barker, William James.