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The busy hammering of the Confederates overhead,

engaged in laying platforms for their guns, assured him that he was well under the doomed salient.

By July 23d the mine was finished. It consisted of a main gallery five hundred and ten and eight-tenths feet in length, with lateral galleries right and left, measuring respectively thirty-eight and thirty-seven feet, and forming the segment of a circle concave to the Confederate lines.1 From mysterious paragraphs in the Northern papers and from reports of deserters, though these last were vague and contradictory, Lee and Beauregard suspected that the enemy was mining in front of some one of the three salients on Beauregard's front, and the latter officer had, in consequence, directed counter-mines to be sunk from all three, meanwhile constructing gorge-lines in rear, upon which the troops might retire in case of surprise or disaster. Batteries of eight and ten-inch, and Coehorn mortars were also established to assure a cross and front fire on the threatened points. But the counter-mining on part of the Confederates was after a time discontinued, owing to the lack of proper tools, the inexperience of the troops in such work, and the arduous nature of their service in the trenches.2

The mine finished, official brows began to relax, and Pleasants asking for 12,000 pounds of powder, got 8,000 and was thankful, together with 8,000 sand bags to be used in tamping. On the 27th of July, the charge, consisting of 320 kegs of powder, each containing, 25 pounds, was placed in the mine, and before sunset of 28th the tamping was finished and the mine ready to be sprung.3 [280]

General Grant, meanwhile, in his eagerness for the coveted prize so long denied him, resolved to tempt Fortune by a double throw, and not to stake his all upon the venture of a single cast. To this end, he dispatched, on the evening of the 26th, Hancock's corps and two divisions of horse under Sheridan to the north side of the James, with instructions to the former to move up rapidly next day to Chaffin's and prevent reinforcements crossing from the south, while Sheridan, making a wide sweep to the right, was to attempt from the north a surprise of the thinly-garrisoned fortifications of Richmond. Meade was to spring the mine and assault from Burnside's front on the same day, General Grant stating in the telegraphic order, with

1 All of the foregoing statements regarding construction, &c., of the mine are based on Lieutenant-Colonel Pleasants' official report, August, 1864.

2 Beauregard's Ms. report of mine explosion.

3 Pleasants' official report.

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