He believed the first wave of attackers would suffer heavy casualties and did not want to be accused of using black troops in such a way. Work progressed steadily, however. Burnside was relieved of command for the last time for his role in the debacle, and he was never again returned to command.. Introduction: The Battle of the Crater, popularly known as the Mine of Petersburg, was a Union assault against the Confederate works in hopes of effecting an unopposed breakthrough. After the Battle of the Crater, the 28th USCT was assigned to the Army of the James – as part of the 25th Corps they helped make up the largest formation of black troops in American history. The Crater was a debacle. ... Burnside’s commander, vetoed the use of Black troops. Black trooper secures downed rebel colors amid the carnage in the crater. Mahone's Confederates conducted a sweep out of a sunken gully area about 200 yards (180 m) from the right side of the Union advance. On July 30th, after weeks of preparation, the Federals exploded the mine beneath a Confederate salient, blowing a gap in the defenses. The day was a scorcher, and a mist of humidity and smoke hung over the hole. A canvas partition isolated the miners' air supply from outside air and allowed miners to enter and exit the work area easily. The Battle of the Crater was a battle of the American Civil War, part of the Siege of Petersburg.It took place on July 30, 1864, between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade (under the direct supervision of the general-in-chief, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant). Battle of the Crater. Federal Identification Number (EIN): 54-1426643. Ill prepared, and without leadership, they charge through Confederate lines and swarm around and incredibly, into the 170-foot crater, only to be trapped and slaughtered in … Please consider making a gift today to help raise the $170,000 we need to preserve this piece of American history forever. Fearing bad publicity, white soldiers are substituted for the division of black troops specially trained for the assault. Unit after unit, most of whom were U. S. Colored Troops, charged into and around the crater, where most of them milled in confusion in the bottom of the crater. It took place on July 30, 1864, between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade (under the direct supervision of the general-in-chief, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant). While fugitive slaves and free blacks were allowed to serve in the Union Army as early as late 1862, they were restricted from combat duties until the issuing of General Order No. Some Pennsylvania troops, miners before the war, suggested a plan to tunnel beneath the Confederate breast-works and detonate some explosives. Instead of ending the siege, both sides settled in for eight months of trench warfare. Best Civil War Books on the Battle of the Crater: July 30, 1864. Eventually, the U.S. Burnside's two other divisions, made up of white troops, would then move in, supporting Ferrero's flanks and race for Petersburg itself. They weren’t put in active service until the spring of 1865 when they were moved to the front lines between Petersburg and Richmond. At that point, everything deteriorated rapidly for the Union attackers. The Union high command formulated a plan to exploit the results of what promised to be an impressive and destructive explosion. Now faced with considerable flanking fire, they also went down into the crater, and for the next few hours, Mahone's soldiers, along with those of Maj. Gen. Bushrod Johnson and artillery, slaughtered the IX Corps as it attempted to escape from the crater. A balanced, vivid military and social history of the tragic Battle of the Crater. Contributed by Brendan Wolfe. Grant had learned a hard lesson at Cold Harbor about attacking Lee in a fortified position and was chafing at the inactivity to which Lee's trenches and forts had confined him. Brig. It was the largest black force assembled during the war and varied between 9,000 to 16,000 men. There was never a federal response even though the massacres did not stop. ... Burnside’s commander, vetoed the use of Black troops. The mine entrance is open for inspection annually on the anniversary of the battle. When he was appointed a brevet brigadier general on March 13, 1865, the citation made explicit mention of his role. Black Flag Over Dixie: Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War [Southern Illinois Univ. The Majority of our funds go directly to Preservation and Education. Donations to the Trust are tax deductible to the full extent allowable under the law.  Both black and white wounded prisoners were taken to the Confederate hospital at Poplar Lawn, in Petersburg. The battle of the Crater is known as one of the Civil War's bloodiest struggles -- a Union loss with combined casualties of 5,000, many of whom were members of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) under Union Brigadier General Edward Ferrero. Because they were missing, however, the men had to climb into and out of their own trenches just to reach no-man's land. During the Civil War, Petersburg, Virginia, was an important railhead, where four railroad lines from the south met before continuing to Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. The Battle of the Crater was perhaps the most tragic event in the 9 ½-month siege, where in a one-day battle in a fairly small area almost 6,000 soldiers were killed and wounded. While the battle is often presented as a chaotic melee where nobody had any real plan in mind, Slotkin suggests that there were some individuals who were thinking clearly. At the battle of Rhode Island, Colonel Greene's black regiment repulsed three successive charges, during which they handled a Hessian regiment severely. The Confederates quickly recovered and launched several counterattacks led by Maj. Gen. William Mahone. The miners had constructed a vertical exhaust shaft located well behind Union lines. General William Mahone provides reinforcements. Most supplies to Lee's army and Richmond funneled through there. If enough Union troops filled the breach quickly enough and drove into the Confederate rear area, the Confederates would not be able to muster enough force to drive them out, and Petersburg might fall. Black Oficiales de las Fuerzas Armadas 1736-1971. Finally, Lt. Col. Henry Pleasants, commanding the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry of Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's IX Corps, offered a novel proposal to break the impasse. What ensued on July 30, 1864, at the Battle of the Crater was one of the most mismanaged tragedies of the war. Lieutenant Freeman S. Bowley was fighting for his life in the man-made hellhole that was the Petersburg Crater when he noticed that the former slaves in his company of the 30th United States Colored Troops were not the only men of color wearing Union blue and dodging Confederate Minié balls on the stifling hot morning of July 30, 1864. Many of the Union losses were suffered by Ferrero's division of the United States Colored Troops. A July 1863 drawing of the Battle of the Crater done by A.R. It was actually trench warfare, rather than a true siege, as the armies were aligned along a series of fortified positions and tren… Digging began in late June, but even Grant and Meade saw the operation as a "mere way to keep the men occupied" and doubted it of any actual tactical value. A further 32 feet (10 m) of packed earth in the main gallery to prevent the explosion blasting out the mouth of the mine. Instead, many Yankee soldiers plunged into the Crater. The plan had failed, but Burnside, instead of cutting his losses, sent in Ferrero's men. After the Battle of the Crater, the 28th USCT was assigned to the Army of the James – as part of the 25th Corps they helped make up the largest formation of black troops in American history.  Finally, at 4:44 a.m., the charges exploded in a massive shower of earth, men, and guns. On July 28, the powder charges were armed. The tunnel was to be filled with explosives that would damage the Confederate defenses. Emmanuel Dabney talked about the role of the U.S. The result was the Siege of Petersburg. Battle of the Crater (Author’s Collection) At the siege of Petersburg on July 30, 1964, General Ambrose E. Burnside developed an elaborate plan to tunnel under the Confederate defenses. Gen. Ulysses... Save 40 Acres of the American Revolution Southern Theater, Kentuckians: Support Battlefield Preservation Legislation, Virginians: Support Battlefield Preservation Legislation, Petersburg - Battle of the Crater - July 30, 1864. The approach shaft was 511 feet (156 m) long, starting in a sunken area downhill and more than 50 feet (15 m) below the Confederate battery, making detection difficult. Gen. William Mahone. Corporate Catering Services; Fine Dinning; Spectacular Wedding Events; Birthdays & Parties The black troops had been trained to go around the crater created by the explosion. A crater (still visible today) was created, 170 feet (52 m) long, 100 to 120 feet (30 to 37 m) wide, and at least 30 feet (9 m) deep. The battle was a violent clash of forces as Confederat… No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864 - Kindle edition by Slotkin, Richard. Colored Troops were fed into the fray, only to receive “no quarter” from the enemy. During the Civil War, Petersburg, Virginia, was an important railhead, and four railroad lines from the south met before they continued to Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. Pleasants, who had no role in the battle itself, received praise for his idea and its execution. Both Meade and Grant were concerned about the possible political ramifications involved in a failed assault led specifically by black soldiers. Consequently, the Union regarded it as the "back door" to Richmond, without which defending the Confederate capital would be impossible.  However, Ledlie's untrained division was not prepared for the explosion, and reports indicate they waited 10 minutes before leaving their own entrenchments. The area of the Battle of the Crater is a frequently-visited portion of Petersburg National Battlefield Park. Matthews, Harry Bradshaw, African American Freedom Journey in New York and Related Sites, 1823–1870: Freedom Knows No Colour, Cherry Hill, NJ: Africana Homestead Legacy Publishers, 2008. They weren’t put in active service until the spring of 1865 when they were moved to the front lines between Petersburg and Richmond. ", This page was last edited on 1 December 2020, at 03:11. Some Union troops eventually advanced and flanked to the right beyond the crater to the earthworks and assaulted the Confederate lines, driving the Confederates back for several hours in hand-to-hand combat. Eicher, p. 723, cites 4,400 total casualties. The resulting vacuum then sucked fresh air in from the mine entrance via the wooden duct, which carried it down the length of the tunnel to the place in which the miners were working. Download for offline reading, highlight, bookmark or take notes while you read The Battle of the Crater: A Complete History. Grant wrote to Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck, "It was the saddest affair I have witnessed in this war. Black Troops Battle Confederate Soldiers at Petersburg (04:46) General Ambrose Burnside brings in his division of Black troops. battle of the crater black troops Posted on October 8, 2020 October 8, 2020 by The Federals filled the mine with 320 kegs of gunpowder, totaling 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg). At its end, a perpendicular gallery of 75 feet (23 m) extended in both directions. Since Cold Harbor, Lieut. GREENE: The Battle of the Crater involved dozens of regiments from each army. Home; About; Services.
The Siege of Petersburg began around the middle of June 1864 and quickly turned into a stalemate. I just thought I’d share a Harper’s Weekly article (August, 20, 1864, p. 531, c. 1) which I have always found fascinating as it was published in a national newspaper at the time:. General Burnside was very upset with this decision, in order to appease Burnside, General Meade agreed to ask General Grant’s opinion on the matter. Two miles (3 km) behind the front lines, out of sight of the Confederates, the men of the USCT division were trained for two weeks on the plan. The Confederate defenders on either side of the Crater recovered quickly after their initial shock and poured fire from both flanks into Burnside’s men. From that propitious beginning, everything deteriorated rapidly for the Union attackers. A July 1863 drawing of the Battle of the Crater done by A.R. The explosion immediately killed 278 Confederate soldiers of the 18th and 22nd South Carolina and the stunned Confederate troops did not direct any significant rifle or artillery fire at the enemy for at least 15 minutes. The shaft was elevated as it moved toward the Confederate lines to make sure moisture did not clog up the mine, and fresh air was drawn in by an ingenious air-exchange mechanism near the entrance. The white troops, however, went into the crater instead of going around it and suffered heavy casualties. Historians discuss the heroes at the crater. After the Battle of the Crater, the 28th USCT was assigned to the Army of the James – as part of the 25th Corps they helped make up the largest formation of black troops in American history. Kennedy, p. 356, and Salmon, p. 421, cite 3,798 Union casualties, 1,491 Confederate. Black Troops at Petersburg After the Battle of the Crater. 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