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The Crater

July 30, 1864

Petersburg, Virginia

After weeks of preparation, on July 30 the Federals exploded a mine in Burnside’s IX Corps sector beneath Pegram’s Salient, blowing a gap in the Confederate defenses of Petersburg. From this propitious beginning, everything deteriorated rapidly for the Union attackers. Unit after unit charged into and around the crater, where soldiers milled in confusion. The Confederates quickly recovered and launched several counterattacks led by Maj. Gen. William Mahone. The break was sealed off, and the Federals were repulsed with severe casualties. Ferrarro’s division of black soldiers was badly mauled. This may have been Grant’s best chance to end the Siege of Petersburg. Instead, the soldiers settled in for another eight months of trench warfare. Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside was relieved of command for his role in the debacle.
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Petersburg Cannon Pamplin

10 Facts about Petersburg

Expand your appreciation for the importance of the 1864-1865 Petersburg Campaign

Featured Article

Petersburg Crater Drawings

Calamity in the Crater

The explosion and aftermath at the Crater become synonymous with Petersburg combat, as shown in period sketches.

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Acres Saved


Check out our collection of photos from the early phases of the Petersburg campaign.

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Recommended Reading

99 Historic Images of Petersburg

"99 Historic Images of Civil War Petersburg"
by Garry E. Adelman and John J. Richter

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In the Trenches at Petersburg Book Cover

"In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat "
by Earl J. Hess

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