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David L. Welch December 15, 2012 at 9:11 pm

It is amazing how much detail was remembered from this battle 50 years later. The conditions inside the crater or pit after the explosion were horrific as the union soldiers were trapped and had great difficulty getting out because of the unconsolidated materials that formed the outer walls. To add to the misery was the eyewitness account of a colored regiment soldier being tormented prior to being killed by several Confederate soldiers.

The 100th PA colors were shattered when the color bearer, Lt. Richard Craven of Co. K was struck with a solid shell, obliterating his body according to eyewitness accounts. A portion of the colors was retrieved by James McFeeters, and a portion by the Confederates. Years later the portion taken by the south was returned to the State of Pennsylvania and matched up to the colors held in Harrisburg. Also, interestingly, a number of 100th PA soldiers that were captured here later escaped back to union lines.

The opening scene to the film “Cold Mountain” gives a close approximation of the size and extent of the explosion and crater as well as the shoulder-to-shoulder cramped nature of the union soldiers that were in the crater when the Confederate lines were reformed. The film also shows a good look at what the trenches around Petersburg looked like in these latter months of the war.

My great great grandfather Col. Norman J. Maxwell, then Captain of Co. E was wounded in the foot in that battle. A number of company officers met the evening before the explosion and assault and expressed their pre-sentiments regarding their chances of being wounded or killed. Many were correct, including my ancestor.

bschulte December 15, 2012 at 9:18 pm


Thanks for the additional color and thanks again for generously offering to allow me to post this account at The Siege of Petersburg Online.

For anyone else reading this, these are the kinds of “donations” I need to make this site the best it can be. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have anything remotely pertaining to the Siege of Petersburg. Odds are I’ll be happy to use it here and link back to your site, as I did with David’s in this case.


David L. Welch December 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

This battle has always intrigued me. I’ve never understood why the union forces rushed into the crater after the explosion instead of going around the edges enforce. The leadership of the union forces here was almost as terrible as the carnage itself.

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