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[248] there was not a sufficient length of fuse at hand to lay it in one piece, several pieces spliced together had to be used. An inspection of the work indicated that it was perfect.

Orders were given to fire the mine at three o'clock in the morning of July 30th. The fuse was lighted at 3.15 A. M., but the charge failed to explode. The defect was repaired, the fuse again lit, and at twenty minutes to five the mine exploded.

The shock was terrific. For nearly an hour the defenders of the adjacent works appeared paralyzed. Through a misunderstanding, the Federal assault was a failure, and many lives were sacrificed. From an engineering point of view, the enterprise was a success. Tactically, it was a failure.

From the moment the Federal troops appeared before Petersburg until the evacuation of the town, the duties of the Engineer Corps were very exacting. Every man was engaged in superintending and assisting in the construction of the technical part of the siege-works. Whenever the battalion was assembled, it was held ready for duty as infantry, and in several cases of emergency was used to strengthen weak points.

A final attempt was made by General Lee, while shut up in Petersburg and Richmond, to divert attention from himself and the Confederate capital by sending General Early up through the Shenandoah valley into Maryland and against Washington. Practically all the garrison at the Federal capital had been withdrawn from the defenses of the city to reenforce the Army of the Potomac. The troops left behind fit for duty did not suffice to man the armaments of the forts, of which the Engineer Corps and artillery had constructed a line of about thirty-seven miles in length.

Colonel Alexander, of the Corps of Engineers, was the only officer of the corps whose personal attention could be given to these defenses. Two of the officers in the office of the chief engineer were ordered to his assistance, and the officers of the corps on fortification duty on the sea-coast, north and east

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