The Battle of the Crater

Overview

July 1864. Grant's siege of Petersburg is at a standstill. A Federal regiment made up mostly of Pennsylvania coal miners, under the command of Lt. Colonel Henry Pleasants, secures the reluctant approval of Generals Meade and, ultimately, Grant to pursue an outrageous strategy: tunnel under the Confederate trenches, and blow up the Confederate troops. The 586-foot tunnel is completed in a month. Four tons of powder explode in a devastating surprise attack, killing hundreds of Confederate soldiers. Fearing bad ...

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Overview

July 1864. Grant's siege of Petersburg is at a standstill. A Federal regiment made up mostly of Pennsylvania coal miners, under the command of Lt. Colonel Henry Pleasants, secures the reluctant approval of Generals Meade and, ultimately, Grant to pursue an outrageous strategy: tunnel under the Confederate trenches, and blow up the Confederate troops. The 586-foot tunnel is completed in a month. Four tons of powder explode in a devastating surprise attack, killing hundreds of Confederate soldiers. Fearing bad publicity, white soldiers are substituted for the division of black troops specially trained for the assault. 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 a furious counter charge.

An absorbing story of extraordinary bravery and incompetent leadership based on first-person accounts.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

JEFF KINARD holds a Ph.D. in history from Texas Christian University and is a professor of history at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, North Carolina. He has published numerous articles and several books on military history.

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Read an Excerpt

By the summer of 1864, Richmond, Virginia, was a city under siege. As Union General Ulysses S. Grant's powerful Army of the Potomac tightened its grip on the Confederate capital, General Robert E. Lee rushed the battered remnants of his Army of North Virginia into the city's outer defenses. Weakened by three years of constant fighting Lee's army was still dangerous, just weeks earlier it had inflicted horrendous losses on the Federals in the battles of the Wilderness and Sportsyvania. On June 3, east of Richmond near a tavern known as Cold Harbor, Grant's troops suffered 7,000 casualties in a matter of minutes while assaulting the Rebel lines. Still Grant's resources seemed endless while Lee's were reduced to a trickle along a tenuous lifetime to his south.

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Table of Contents

Contents

1. The Key to Richmond                                   13
2. The Plan                                                        24
3. "We Looks Like Men Er War"                        37
4."A Spectacle of Appalling Grandeur"              45
5. "Into the Month of Hell"                                   55
6. "The Saddest Affair"                                       68

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