The Battle of the Crater began on July 30th 1864 with a bang.
After weeks of hard work, shortly before dawn on July 30th 1864 Union Major General Ambrose E Burnside’s IX Corps blew up the tunnel that ran under the confederate’s line using four tons of black powder. Do to splicing of a low quality fuse the explosion didn’t go off when planned. Two men from the PA 48th Regiment, Lieutenant Jacob Douty and Sergeant Harry Reese, went into the tunnel and relit the fuse. The explosion created a crater and made a gap in the Confederate defenses of Petersburg Virginia along Pegram’s Salient. It killed about 300 instantly Rebel soldiers. The Union troops charged into the crater unit after unit, where they milled around in confusion. The Confederates led by Major General William Mahone quickly launched an attack. The Federals were repulsed with heavy casualties. The black soldiers of Brigadier General Edward Ferrero’s division were dreadfully mauled.
Union casualties were about 3,798 in killed, wounded or missing. The Confederates lost about 1,500. Charges were brought against General Burnside, and he was never again assigned to duty.
Other information about this battle
The Battle of the Crater, July 30, 1864
Battle of the Crater
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