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[182] the point of assault. A battery of 10-inch mortars was placed near the subsequent location of Fort Rice, and directed its fire, at a range of eight hundred yards, upon a salient battery of the Confederates, from which much trouble was anticipated. Not a shot was fired from the Confederate battery after its range was obtained, and from information received afterward from a Southern officer, it was found that the men could not remain at their guns after the showers of balls began falling, every thirty seconds, around them.

The ordinary mortar-shell was the one used largely in all the operations. At Yorktown, the Confederates had an 8-inch mortar with which they did rather indifferent shooting, but the moral effect on the Federal soldiers of the screeching shells was great. Accordingly, the Federals thereafter paid close attention to the training of men for the use of a similar type of mortar, and at Petersburg there was a good opportunity to reply in kind. The Confederate gunners, now feeling the effect of the fire from the other side, and having for a time no bombproofs in which to take shelter, were appalled by the sudden opening of the Federal mortars. The lines were so near together that the soldiers were under the necessity of keeping their works closely guarded to prevent their being taken by assault, and the moral effect was very depressing. One case is related of a Confederate soldier having been blown entirely over the parapet of the work by the explosion of one of the Federal 8-inch mortar-shells, and his body lay out of reach of his friends, who were compelled to keep under cover by the Federal sharpshooters.

As soon as the Confederates could place mortars in position at Petersburg, they opened on the besiegers, and thereafter the fire was severe. The Federal expenditure of mortar ammunition was over forty thousand rounds, and that of the Confederates was estimated to have been not much less.

The incident of the so-called “Petersburg Express,” when the Federals mounted a 13-inch sea-coast mortar on a railroad

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