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Campaign of Giants--The Battle for PetersburgVolume 1: From the Crossing of the James to the Crater$
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A. Wilson Greene

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469638577

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469638577.001.0001

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This Day Was the Jubilee of Fiends in Human Shape, and without Souls

This Day Was the Jubilee of Fiends in Human Shape, and without Souls

The Union Attacks on July 30

Chapter:
(p.419) Eleven This Day Was the Jubilee of Fiends in Human Shape, and without Souls
Source:
Campaign of Giants--The Battle for Petersburg
Author(s):

A. Wilson Greene

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469638577.003.0011

The Battle of the Crater remains the best-known episode of the entire Petersburg Campaign. This chapter describes the Union attacks at this engagement, beginning with the explosion of their mine that left a huge crater where a key Confederate fort had stood. The blast briefly opened a window of opportunity for the capture of Petersburg as several hundred Confederate defenders were killed and others fled in terror. The Union army’s failure to exploit that opportunity stemmed from a variety of factors: altered tactical plans, confused orders, poor leadership, the rapid recovery of the stunned Southern defenders, and the sheer magnitude of the blast itself. The narrative outlines the details of the Union assaults, the response of the Confederate high command to the crisis, and the steps taken by adjacent grayclad troops to confine the damage. When fresh Confederate forces arrived, the stage was set for some of the most horrific personal combat ever to stain the North American continent.

Keywords:   Battle of the Crater, James H. Ledlie, William Mahone, Ambrose E. Burnside, Robert E. Lee, George G. Meade, United States Colored Troops, Elliott’s (Pegram’s) Salient, Ulysses S. Grant, P.G.T. Beauregard

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