This Week in the Civil War - #886
At Petersburg, on July 30, 1864 Federal forces blasted approximately two hundred yards of Confederate fortifications with men, horses, and cannon hurled 100 feet into the air, leaving a hole 170 feet long, nearly 80 feet wide, and 30 feet deep in the Confederate line. Advancing Union forces stopped abruptly at the crater’s edge, only to be pushed into the massive hole by advancing troops behind them. Confederate forces soon closed the gap in their lines and began firing downward at hundreds of Union troops milling helplessly in the crater. By early afternoon the attack ended, but Federal survivors in the crater had to wait until nightfall to safely return to their lines. Over 4000 Union soldiers became casualties in the failed attempt at Petersburg’s now infamous crater.