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Re: Petersburg Crater

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  • barringer63
    ... http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/hh/13/hh13f.htm gives the tale. Basically Gen. Burnsides wanted to train fresh USCT troops in what to do
    Message 1 of 15 , Mar 2, 2008
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      Kevin Fry wrote:
      >
      > The link that was posted
      http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/hh/13/hh13f.htm gives
      the tale. Basically Gen. Burnsides wanted to train fresh USCT troops
      in what to do when the explosion finally came and that they would
      charge into the earthworks by skirting the outer edge of the
      impending crater. It was decided that with the Presidential election
      just around the corner , it would be a disaster for Lincoln in these
      colored troops got massacred so in the last days before the job was
      finished, and against Burnsides wishes, it was decided by other
      Generals to use white troops who for one reason or another were not
      told what the plan of attack was and they simple filed into the
      crater and the result was shooting fish in a bucket.

      Interesting that the park service site doesn't identify the "other
      Generals." Actually it was Meade's decision to have the black troops
      stand down at the 11th hour but he let Burnside believe it was
      Grant's The Court of Inquiry requested by Meade stopped short of
      accusing Burnside of outright insubordination but "in effect labeled
      Ambrose Burnside incompetent." IMO, Ledlie should have been shot.

      Teej
    • lpydb
      Another problem that occurred during the battle is that after the crater was blown the soldiers of the IX Corps did not attack immediatly because they assumed
      Message 2 of 15 , Mar 2, 2008
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        Another problem that occurred during the battle is that after the crater
        was blown the soldiers of the IX Corps did not attack immediatly because
        they assumed all the Comfederates in the crater were dead. Had they
        attacked right away things may have turned out differently.

        On a side note William Bartlett who was an officer in the 20th
        Massachusetts at the start of the war was a brigade commander in the IX
        Corps during the battle and was captured there.

        Coly
        --- In 20thMass@yahoogroups.com, "Kevin Frye" <Frye@...> wrote:
        >
        > The link that was posted
        http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/hh/13/hh13f.htm gives
        the tale. Basically Gen. Burnsides wanted to train fresh USCT troops in
        what to do when the explosion finally came and that they would charge
        into the earthworks by skirting the outer edge of the impending crater.
        It was decided that with the Presidential election just around the
        corner , it would be a disaster for Lincoln in these colored troops got
        massacred so in the last days before the job was finished, and against
        Burnsides wishes, it was decided by other Generals to use white troops
        who for one reason or another were not told what the plan of attack was
        and they simple filed into the crater and the result was shooting fish
        in a bucket.
        >
        > Kevin
        >
      • Raymond ohara
        it was a failure because they got squemish about using the black troops who were prepared. they were afraid it would fail and they would get accused of
        Message 3 of 15 , Mar 2, 2008
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          it was a failure because they got squemish about using the black troops who were prepared.
          they were afraid it would fail and they would get accused of sacrificing them.
           
           
           


          Kevin Frye <Frye@...> wrote:
          If memory serves it was about 400 feet. The tunnel only goes back about 20 yards now as years ago there was a cave in as you can see in the photo looking up the hill there is a low spot in the direction of the earthworks.  It was indeed genius how they did the ventilation system to keep fresh air flowing to the depths of the tunnel.  Rumor made its way to the Confederates of the work that was being done so the Confederates made probing tunnels toward the Union lines where they would often stop and listed for sound of the digging.  The smoke from the ventilation system the miners used would have sent off flags to where the tunnel was being built, so the union soldiers all up and down the siege lines built small fires to fool the Confederates and not give them any idea of the task being done.  Is everyone aware of why it was such a failure?   Interesting story and I would gladly tell it as I remember hearing it.
           
          Kevin
           
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: lpydb
          Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 9:07 PM
          Subject: [20thMass] Re: Petersburg Crater

          Kevin,

          How far does that tunnel go now?

          Coly

          --- In 20thMass@yahoogroup s.com, "Kevin" <Frye@...> wrote:
          >
          > I just posted a couple photos of the crater tunnel entrance, the
          > crater, and a memorial placed there in 1964 to the photo link. These
          > were 35mm and I just scanned them so I dont think they give the place
          > justice, but thought I would share.
          >
          > Kevin
          >


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        • Raymond ohara
          wasn t ledlie drunk and in a bombproof and so he never saw the battle lpydb wrote: Burnside was his typical self at the Crater. He
          Message 4 of 15 , Mar 2, 2008
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            wasn't ledlie drunk and in a bombproof and so he never saw the battle

            lpydb <lpydb@...> wrote:
            Burnside was his typical self at the Crater. He had a good plan but when
            it came time to adjust due to unforeseen changes he couldn't. In all
            fairness Grant should take some of the blame for what happened at the
            Crater as should Meade and Ledlie.

            Coly

            --- In 20thMass@yahoogroup s.com, "Kevin Frye" <Frye@...> wrote:
            >
            > If memory serves it was about 400 feet. The tunnel only goes back
            about 20 yards now as years ago there was a cave in as you can see in
            the photo looking up the hill there is a low spot in the direction of
            the earthworks. It was indeed genius how they did the ventilation
            system to keep fresh air flowing to the depths of the tunnel. Rumor
            made its way to the Confederates of the work that was being done so the
            Confederates made probing tunnels toward the Union lines where they
            would often stop and listed for sound of the digging. The smoke from
            the ventilation system the miners used would have sent off flags to
            where the tunnel was being built, so the union soldiers all up and down
            the siege lines built small fires to fool the Confederates and not give
            them any idea of the task being done. Is everyone aware of why it was
            such a failure? Interesting story and I would gladly tell it as I
            remember hearing it.
            >
            > Kevin
            >
            > ----- Original Message -----
            > From: lpydb
            > To: 20thMass@yahoogroup s.com
            > Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 9:07 PM
            > Subject: [20thMass] Re: Petersburg Crater
            >
            >
            > Kevin,
            >
            > How far does that tunnel go now?
            >
            > Coly
            >
            > --- In 20thMass@yahoogroup s.com, "Kevin" Frye@ wrote:
            > >
            > > I just posted a couple photos of the crater tunnel entrance, the
            > > crater, and a memorial placed there in 1964 to the photo link.
            These
            > > were 35mm and I just scanned them so I dont think they give the
            place
            > > justice, but thought I would share.
            > >
            > > Kevin
            > >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
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            >
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            3/1/2008 5:41 PM
            >



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          • Raymond ohara
            to ventilate it they buuilt a small fire near the entrance, sealed the entrance except for a small pipe that ran to where the miners were. the fire created a
            Message 5 of 15 , Mar 2, 2008
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              to ventilate it they buuilt a small fire near the entrance, sealed the entrance except for a small "pipe" that ran to where the miners were. the fire created a draft and air entered the pipe and the miners got to breath it first. the breeze probably help cool them to.

              kim LEESE <leesecw@...> wrote:
              There are a number of published articles on the crater including mentions in books. The colored infantry who were trained to assault the position werent used.. The 9th corps infantry that were used and placed at the crater  went into the crater itself. Some of the supporting infantry like the 46th New York were split in half to the left of the crater by a deep series of earthworks {no Longer there at the battlefield}  {same thing on the right of the crater}and moved away from the crater. It was a mess. General Grant thought it was a brilliant move that was mishandled badly and a failure and was disgusted. Any reading you need to do on the crater would involve Ambrose Burnside' ninth corps.  Burnside didnt last too long after. Ive been to the crater many times. From some accounts it was actually a set of candles that provided the ventilation through the airvent to the top of the tunnel which drew the air in from the front of the tunnel. A few years back a bum started a fire at the entrance of the tunnel and destroyed alot of the old seal at the entrance. The confederate probing tunnels were very close. One is marked at the battlefield 

              Kevin Frye <Frye@...> wrote:
              If memory serves it was about 400 feet. The tunnel only goes back about 20 yards now as years ago there was a cave in as you can see in the photo looking up the hill there is a low spot in the direction of the earthworks.  It was indeed genius how they did the ventilation system to keep fresh air flowing to the depths of the tunnel.  Rumor made its way to the Confederates of the work that was being done so the Confederates made probing tunnels toward the Union lines where they would often stop and listed for sound of the digging.  The smoke from the ventilation system the miners used would have sent off flags to where the tunnel was being built, so the union soldiers all up and down the siege lines built small fires to fool the Confederates and not give them any idea of the task being done.  Is everyone aware of why it was such a failure?   Interesting story and I would gladly tell it as I remember hearing it.
               
              Kevin
               
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: lpydb
              Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 9:07 PM
              Subject: [20thMass] Re: Petersburg Crater

              Kevin,

              How far does that tunnel go now?

              Coly

              --- In 20thMass@yahoogroup s.com, "Kevin" <Frye@...> wrote:
              >
              > I just posted a couple photos of the crater tunnel entrance, the
              > crater, and a memorial placed there in 1964 to the photo link. These
              > were 35mm and I just scanned them so I dont think they give the place
              > justice, but thought I would share.
              >
              > Kevin
              >


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            • Dave M
              The story of the Crater as I have read is included in many of the posts below. Henry Pleasants of the 48th PA Infantry, is credited with the idea of the
              Message 6 of 15 , Mar 3, 2008
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                The story of the Crater as I have read is included in many of the posts below. Henry Pleasants of the 48th PA Infantry, is credited with the idea of the tunnel. He sold the idea to his brigade, division and corps commanders. Burnside, 9th Corps commander, took the idea to Meade and Grant, who approved the plan, tought it was a waste of time but gave the approval as a way to keep the men occupied. The men of the 48th, being miners from Western PA were well versed in the methods needed and despite digging by hand, removing the soil from the shaft in cracker boxes and lining the mine in timber from a local saw mill and dismantled railroad trestle, made good progress. The tunnel was ventillated by digging a vertical shaft and building a fire at its base, 100 feet from the entrance. This warmed the air, causing to flow up the shaft, creating a flue effect. Fresh air was drawn into the tunnel via a wooden duct running from the entrance to the end of the main shaft. Its length being extended as needed. When it was determined the tunnel was long enough, it was expanded into roughly a tee shape by digging vaults to the left oand right of the center of the main shaft.  These vaults were packed with 8000 pounds of gunpowder.  The side vaults and main shaft were each sealed for two reasons. First to provide a tamping effect and localizing the blast and second to keep the blast from blowing back out of the entrance of the mine.
                While the miners were digging, Burnside ordered Edward Ferraro to train his division of USCT for the atack. These men were trained to wait for the blast, then rush forward around the crater rather then into it. Once inside the Confederate lines, they were to spread to the left and right while the other 2 divisions of the Corps were to come to their support. That was the plan.
                Politics came into play at this point. First, keep in mind that blacks were considered by many to be inferior in all aspects to whites. Meade and Grant already had serious misgivings about the potential for success of the attack and it being an election were concerned with the political fallout not if but when the attack failed. Meade ordered a change in the trrops to be used in the attack. Burnside took the issue to Grant who sided with Meade and the change was made. Disheartened, Burnside left the matter to chance with his remaining division commanders drawing straws to see who would lead the attack. Ledlie lost out.
                When time came for the attack, the fuse was lit but failed to detonate, Two volunteers from the 48th rushed into the main shaft and found that the fuse ad burned out at a splice due to being of poor quality. The fuse was relit and after the detonation the men of Ledlie's division rushed headlong into the crater, becomming trapped and slaughtered. Ledlie was found hiding in a bomb proof behind the lines reported drunk. Never the less he was absent when his men needed his leaderhip and the suffered for it.
                Ledlie was relieved of his command and cashiered for his actions. Burnside took a Leave of Absence from his command never to return. Federal forces suffered approximately 4000 casualties to the Confederate's 1500.
                 
                The tunnel was 500 feet long with the perpendicular gallery being 75 feet to each side of the center of the main shaft. Currently the shaft opening is sealed.
                 
                Dave

                Raymond ohara <raymondohara@...> wrote:
                to ventilate it they buuilt a small fire near the entrance, sealed the entrance except for a small "pipe" that ran to where the miners were. the fire created a draft and air entered the pipe and the miners got to breath it first. the breeze probably help cool them to.

                kim LEESE <leesecw@sbcglobal. net> wrote:
                There are a number of published articles on the crater including mentions in books. The colored infantry who were trained to assault the position werent used.. The 9th corps infantry that were used and placed at the crater  went into the crater itself. Some of the supporting infantry like the 46th New York were split in half to the left of the crater by a deep series of earthworks {no Longer there at the battlefield}  {same thing on the right of the crater}and moved away from the crater. It was a mess. General Grant thought it was a brilliant move that was mishandled badly and a failure and was disgusted. Any reading you need to do on the crater would involve Ambrose Burnside' ninth corps.  Burnside didnt last too long after. Ive been to the crater many times. From some accounts it was actually a set of candles that provided the ventilation through the airvent to the top of the tunnel which drew the air in from the front of the tunnel. A few years back a bum started a fire at the entrance of the tunnel and destroyed alot of the old seal at the entrance. The confederate probing tunnels were very close. One is marked at the battlefield 

                Kevin Frye <Frye@...> wrote:
                If memory serves it was about 400 feet. The tunnel only goes back about 20 yards now as years ago there was a cave in as you can see in the photo looking up the hill there is a low spot in the direction of the earthworks.  It was indeed genius how they did the ventilation system to keep fresh air flowing to the depths of the tunnel.  Rumor made its way to the Confederates of the work that was being done so the Confederates made probing tunnels toward the Union lines where they would often stop and listed for sound of the digging.  The smoke from the ventilation system the miners used would have sent off flags to where the tunnel was being built, so the union soldiers all up and down the siege lines built small fires to fool the Confederates and not give them any idea of the task being done.  Is everyone aware of why it was such a failure?   Interesting story and I would gladly tell it as I remember hearing it.
                 
                Kevin
                 
                ----- Original Message -----
                From: lpydb
                Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 9:07 PM
                Subject: [20thMass] Re: Petersburg Crater

                Kevin,

                How far does that tunnel go now?

                Coly

                --- In 20thMass@yahoogroup s.com, "Kevin" <Frye@...> wrote:
                >
                > I just posted a couple photos of the crater tunnel entrance, the
                > crater, and a memorial placed there in 1964 to the photo link. These
                > were 35mm and I just scanned them so I dont think they give the place
                > justice, but thought I would share.
                >
                > Kevin
                >


                No virus found in this incoming message.
                Checked by AVG Free Edition.
                Version: 7.5.516 / Virus Database: 269.21.3/1306 - Release Date: 3/1/2008 5:41 PM



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