The Battle of the Crater

On July 30, 1864 Union miners lit a massive bomb underneath Confederate lines defending the transportation center, Petersburg. The mine of 320 kegs of gunpowder comprised of 8,000 pounds and were buried twenty feet below the trenches. The explosion killed several hundred Southern troops and wounded many more, however the Union attack was delayed, giving the survivors of the blast time to rally their forces and throughout the morning the Rebels shoot pointblank down into the crater at the heaving mass of Federal soldiers, black and white. The attack was called off, but not before Mars had reaped his crop of death.

So much slaughter over such a small piece of ground.

170 feet (52 m) long, 100 to 120 feet (30 to 37 m) wide, and at least 30 feet (9 m) deep.

Over 5000 casualties, mostly Northern.

Grant wrote to Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck, “It was the saddest affair I have witnessed in this war.”

The killing ground is now covered by grass.

And the dead are at rest.

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