Battle of the Crater

Scene of the explosion July 30th 1864
Alfred R. Waud, artist
Contemporary sketch of Col. Pleasants supervising the placement of powder in the mine
National Park Service marker depicting details of the mine
Sketch of the explosion, as seen from the Union line
Battle of the Crater art from the Virginia Tech Bugle 1899 yearbook
Result of the 8,000 lb of powder explosion under the Salient, 1865
The Crater in 2004
Mine entrance in 2006
Interior of Mine entrance in 2015

Battle of the American Civil War, part of the siege of Petersburg.

- Battle of the Crater
Scene of the explosion July 30th 1864
Alfred R. Waud, artist

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William Mahone

American civil engineer, railroad executive, Confederate States Army general, and Virginia politician.

American civil engineer, railroad executive, Confederate States Army general, and Virginia politician.

William Mahone in his younger years
General Mahone in Confederate uniform
Share of the Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio RR from 1871, signed by William Mahone as president
Mahone after the war
Mahone mausoleum at Blandford Cemetery, identified by its "M" insignia

He was best known for regaining the initiative at the late war siege of Petersburg, Virginia while Southern troops were in shock after a huge mine/load of black powder kegs was exploded beneath them by tunnel-digging former coal miner Union Army troops resulting in the Battle of the Crater in July 1864; his counter-attack turned the engagement into a disastrous Union defeat.

Petersburg, Virginia

Independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States.

Independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States.

Petersburg, Va., from Duns Hill, c. 1880.
Intersection of Sycamore and Bollingbrook
U.S. Engineer Battalion, during the Siege of Petersburg, August 1864
South Side Railroad Depot on Rock Street which served as the office of William Mahone when his Readjustor Party dominated Virginia politics.
The city market that has been preserved and is still used as a market.
The former U.S. Customs House, now serving as the Petersburg City Hall

The 1864–65 Siege of Petersburg, which included the Battle of the Crater and nine months of trench warfare devastated the city.

IX Corps badge

IX Corps (Union Army)

Corps of the Union Army during the American Civil War that distinguished itself in combat in multiple theaters: the Carolinas, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

Corps of the Union Army during the American Civil War that distinguished itself in combat in multiple theaters: the Carolinas, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

IX Corps badge
Union Army 1st Division Badge, IX Corps

The IX Corps was prominently connected with the siege because of its role in the infamous Battle of the Crater, in which a lengthy mine shaft was dug from its line to under the Confederate works.

Theatrical release poster

Cold Mountain (film)

2003 epic period war film written and directed by Anthony Minghella.

2003 epic period war film written and directed by Anthony Minghella.

Theatrical release poster

Three years later, Inman fights in the Battle of the Crater and survives.

Ambrose Burnside, circa 1880

Ambrose Burnside

American army officer and politician who became a senior Union general in the Civil War and three times Governor of Rhode Island, as well as being a successful inventor and industrialist.

American army officer and politician who became a senior Union general in the Civil War and three times Governor of Rhode Island, as well as being a successful inventor and industrialist.

Ambrose Burnside, circa 1880
Mrs. Burnside, Mary Richmond Bishop
General Ambrose Burnside.
Burnside (seated, center) and officers of the 1st Rhode Island at Camp Sprague, Rhode Island, 1861
Burnside Bridge at Antietam in 2005
Union General Ambrose Burnside, 1862
Engraving of General Burnside in full dress uniform
Petersburg Crater, 1865
Burnside's grave in Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island
Studio photograph of Gen. Ambrose Burnside taken sometime between 1860 and 1862. Photograph shows his unusual sideburns.
Equestrian monument in Burnside Park, Providence, Rhode Island.

He was responsible for some of the earliest victories in the Eastern theater, but was then promoted above his abilities, and is mainly remembered for two disastrous defeats, at Fredericksburg and the Battle of the Crater (Petersburg).

The "Dictator" siege mortar at Petersburg. In the foreground, the figure on the right is Brig. Gen. Henry J. Hunt, chief of artillery of the Army of the Potomac.

Siege of Petersburg

Series of battles around Petersburg, Virginia, fought from June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865, during the American Civil War.

Series of battles around Petersburg, Virginia, fought from June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865, during the American Civil War.

The "Dictator" siege mortar at Petersburg. In the foreground, the figure on the right is Brig. Gen. Henry J. Hunt, chief of artillery of the Army of the Potomac.
Fredericksburg, Virginia; May 1863. Soldiers in the trenches. Trench warfare would appear again more infamously in World War I
A portion of the 4th USCT Infantry
Siege of Petersburg, assaults on June 15–18
Siege of Petersburg, movements against the railroads and A.P. Hill's counterattack, June 21–22
Wilson–Kautz Raid, June 22 – July 1
"Dictator" siege mortar on the U.S. Military Railroad at Petersburg
First Battle of Deep Bottom, July 27–29
Siege of Petersburg, Battle of the Crater, July 30
Sketch of the explosion seen from the Union line.
Second Battle of Deep Bottom, August 14–20
Siege of Petersburg, capture of the Weldon Railroad, August 18–19
Siege of Petersburg, actions on October 27
Siege of Petersburg, actions preceding Five Forks
Grant's final assaults and Lee's retreat (start of the Appomattox Campaign)
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Fascine Trench Breastworks, Petersburg, Va. – NARA – 524792. Although identified as Confederate Trenches this is actually Union Fort Sedgwick aka "Fort Hell" which was opposite Fort Mahone aka "Fort Damnation"<ref>Civil War talk Forum</ref>
Union Army 9th Corps attacking Fort Mahone aka "Fort Damanation" sketch by Alfred Ward.
Confederate artilleryman killed during the final Union assault against the trenches at Petersburg. Photo by Thomas C. Roche, April 3, 1865.<ref>Frassanito, p. 360.</ref><ref>See website Petersburg Project on location of Many of the Roche photographs at Petersburg April 1865</ref> Although prints of this picture list it as being taken at Ft Mahone, historians at the "Petersburg Project" believe it was taken at Confederate Battery 25<ref>Dead Artilleryman comments Petersburg Project</ref>
Smoke is still rising from the ruins of Richmond, Virginia after surrendering on April 3, 1865 following the Union victory at the siege of Petersburg. Union cavalry mounts with carbines visible are hitched in the foreground.

It also featured the war's largest concentration of African-American troops, who suffered heavy casualties at such engagements as the Battle of the Crater and Chaffin's Farm.

USCT recruiting poster

United States Colored Troops

The United States Colored Troops (USCT) were regiments in the United States Army composed primarily of African-American (colored) soldiers, although members of other minority groups also served within the units.

The United States Colored Troops (USCT) were regiments in the United States Army composed primarily of African-American (colored) soldiers, although members of other minority groups also served within the units.

USCT recruiting poster
USCT soldiers at an abandoned farmhouse in Dutch Gap, Virginia, 1864
Colored Troops singing "John Brown's Body" as they marched into Charleston, South Carolina, in February 1865. Note the attitude of the local population, and the white officers.
Union soldier in uniform with family; he has been identified as Sgt. Samuel Smith of the 119th USCT
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Escaped slave, Gordon (also called "Whipped Peter"), in USCT uniform
Captain Francis Jackson Meriam, 3rd South Carolina Colored Infantry
U.S. Colored Troops medal issued by General Benjamin Butler
African-American corporal (United States Colored Troops)outside 8 Whitehall Street, Atlanta, a slave auction house; Fall 1864
Printed broadside, calling all men of color to arms, 1863
Sgt Major Christian Fleetwood. Civil War, Medal of Honor recipient
3rd US Colored Troops banner {obverse}
22th US Colored Troops banner
24th US Colored Troops banner
26th US Colored Troops banner
27th US Colored Troops banner
45th US Colored Troops banner
Harriet Tubman with family and ex-slaves; sitting at left is Tubmans 2nd husband Nelson Davis (8th USCT veteran)

The most famous USCT action took place at the Battle of the Crater during the Siege of Petersburg.

Commanders of the Army of the Potomac at Culpeper, Virginia, 1863. From the left: Gouverneur K. Warren, William H. French, George G. Meade, Henry J. Hunt, Andrew A. Humphreys, George Sykes

Army of the Potomac

The principal Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.

The principal Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.

Commanders of the Army of the Potomac at Culpeper, Virginia, 1863. From the left: Gouverneur K. Warren, William H. French, George G. Meade, Henry J. Hunt, Andrew A. Humphreys, George Sykes
The Army of the Potomac – Our Outlying Picket in the Woods, 1862
Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac, drawn by Thomas Nast, Harper's Weekly, October 10, 1863
Saint Patrick's Day celebration in the Army of the Potomac, depicting a steeplechase race among the Irish Brigade, March 17, 1863, by Edwin Forbes
Scouts and guides, Army of the Potomac, Mathew Brady
Headquarters of the 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac, at the home of Col. Avery near Petersburg, Virginia, June 1864. Photograph by Mathew Brady. From the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
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Richmond–Petersburg Campaign, including the Battle of the Crater: Grant/Meade

Meade, portrait by Mathew Brady

George Meade

United States Army officer and civil engineer best known for decisively defeating Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War.

United States Army officer and civil engineer best known for decisively defeating Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War.

Meade, portrait by Mathew Brady
Meade photographed by Mathew Brady or Levin C. Handy
General Meade's horse, Old Baldy
Commanders of the Army of the Potomac, Gouverneur K. Warren, William H. French, George G. Meade, Henry J. Hunt, Andrew A. Humphreys, and George Sykes in September 1863
General Meade's headquarters, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Engraving by James E. Kelly of George G. Meade and the Council of War at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863
General Meade's headquarters, Culpeper, Virginia
Horse artillery headquarters in Brandy Station, Virginia, February 1864. Meade stands at the far right with Generals John Sedgwick and Alfred Torbert, along with staff officers.
Generals George G. Meade, Andrew A. Humphreys and staff in Culpeper, Virginia outside Meade's headquarters, 1863
General Meade and other generals of Army of the Potomac in Washington, D.C., June 1865
General George G. Meade and staff in Washington, D.C. in June 1865
George Meade tombstone in Laurel Hill Cemetery
George Gordon Meade Memorial, sculpted by Charles Grafly, located in front of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C.
General Meade lived at 1836 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, and died in the house, 1872, according to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker in front.
A monument to Meade by sculptor Henry Kirke Bush-Brown, on the Gettysburg Battlefield, located close to the point where Pickett's Charge was repulsed.
Equestrian statue in Philadelphia, designed by Alexander Milne Calder, located in Fairmount Park, which Meade was the commissioner of following the war.

The resulting Battle of the Crater was one of the great fiascoes of the war.

Edward Ferrero

Edward Ferrero

One of the leading dance instructors, choreographers, and ballroom operators in the United States.

One of the leading dance instructors, choreographers, and ballroom operators in the United States.

Edward Ferrero

He also served as a Union Army general in the American Civil War, being most remembered for his conduct unbecoming in the Battle of the Crater (July 1864), where he was reported to have been drinking with another general behind the lines as both their units were virtually destroyed.