The Battle of the Crater

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Introduction The Battle of the Crater was supposed to be an unexpected attempt by
Union forces to break through the Confederate defenses south of a critical hub near Petersburg, Virginia. The battle took place on the morning of July 30 1864, and consisted of 16,500 IX Corps Union soldiers and approximately 9,500 Confederate soldiers.1 Ambrose E. Burnside lead the IX Corps soldiers but overall command of the Union soldiers known as Grant’s Army of the Potomac was by General George G. Meade. The confederate soldiers were mostly made up of elements of the Army of Northern Virginia and South Carolina and were led by William Mahone under the direct order of Robert E. Lee. The Union decided to explode a mine under the Confederates and blow a gap into their defensive lines. Petersburg, Virginia was an important location due to the railheads that merged together there. The railhead then continued to Richmond the capital to deliver supplies to the Confederate Army. 2

History Some of the worst fighting between Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac and General Robert E. Lee’s Army happened in the months leading up to the Battle of the Crater near Petersburg, Virginia. The two armies clashed at such places as the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, the North Anna River, Cold Harbor, and along the defensive perimeter around Petersburg.3 The
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