Friday 30 July 2010

Battle of the Crater 1864

Image; Alfred Rudolph Waud (1828–91)
The advance to the "crater" after the explosion of the mine. In the middle distance are the mounds of earth thrown up by the explosion: beyond upon the high ground cemetery hill the Confederates inner line of works, which if they had carried, would have given the Union Army Petersburg and Richmond. In the foreground troops are seen advancing to and beyond Burnsides outer intrenched line and moving upon the Confederate defences. These were—on the left Bartletts Massachusetts brigade, and on the right, the Negro troops—this sketch was made about 8 AM July 30th 1864. / A point in the Rebel works known as Elliots Salient over this part was held by the 18th and 23rd S. Carolina infantry and a battery of artillery blown up in the explosion.
Today is the anniversary of this event that took place during the siege of St Petersburg involving Pennsylvanian miners making a huge crater in the CSA fortfications. This is the opening scene of the movie Cold Mountain. There is an interesting original painting at the American Museum Bath that shows a kind of log tunnel that sat above ground reaching up to the Confederate siege lines.


  1. Good book and OK movie. After one or two viewings of the whole film, the CRATER scene is enough for me. I don't believe any Confederate Soldier went bum first into the battle as the Native American soldier does. Bayonets. Nice special effects in the film. Too bad for the move that it's in the beginning instead of the climax. I have seen a made for TV film, Nightbreaker (1989), about the nuclear testing in the 1950s where general tells the scientist that US soldiers have to trained to get used to nuclear explosions. He used the example of the Petersburg Mine where soldiers were too amazed by the explosion to keep advancing.

  2. Some war historian should team with an archaeologist and take core samples of the Crater and build a digital 3D model of the actual Crater in 1865. It would be fascinating.

    Then, sink a small 1/2" shaft into an un-collapsed portion of the mine near the crater and then drop a tube camera down to take a look around.