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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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A Perfect Hell of Blood

A Perfect Hell of Blood

The Confederates Regain the Crater

(p.467) Twelve A Perfect Hell of Blood
Campaign of Giants--The Battle for Petersburg

A. Wilson Greene

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter follows the fighting at the Battle of the Crater from the commencement of the Confederate counterattacks through the end of the engagement. Once the Union assaults had run their course without achieving a significant breakthrough, General William Mahone arrived at the head of two Confederate brigades with orders to regain the lost ground. Morning assaults drove the Bluecoats back into the environs of the Crater, but failed to expel them. Mahone summoned an Alabama brigade to the field as unrelenting heat combined with Confederate mortar fire weakened the Union survivors and made life around the Crater almost unbearable. Early in the afternoon, Mahone unleashed his Alabamans. Their determined attack ended the battle, but not before the Southerners, incensed at the idea of fighting former slaves, perpetrated an unprecedented massacre of the black troops, providing July 30, 1864 with its gruesome pedigree. The aftermath possessed its own dark character featuring the execution of black prisoners, a humiliating parade of Union POWs through Petersburg, and shameful dueling protocols by the respective commanders that delayed a truce and resulted in the deaths of countless wounded men caught between the lines.

Keywords:   Battle of the Crater, William Mahone, David A. Weisiger, John C.C. Sanders, United States Colored Troops, Combat Atrocities, Ninth Army Corps, Ambrose E. Burnside, George G. Meade, Ambrose Powell Hill

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