This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 be destroyed. On the 27th, the enormous quantity of 12,000 lbs. of powder was placed in the mine, fuses were constructed and connected with the magazine, and everything was in readiness for the grand explosion. The mine was exploded between four and five o'clock in the morning of the 30th July. An immense mass of dull, red earth was thrown two hundred feet in the air; human forms, gun-carriages, and small arms were mingled in what appeared to be a bank of clouds blazing with lightning; a great shock smote the ear, and the ground trembled as if by an appalling convulsion of nature. Instantly, before the rumble of the explosion had died away, every piece of siege artillery on the enemy's line, and all the field artillery that could be brought into position opened as with the grand chorus of death. With such an infernal display to strike terrour into the Confederates and to demoralize men suddenly awakened from sleep, the Ninth Corps, fifteen thousand strong, marched out to attack, and complete what was thought to be an easy and certain victory. But Lee's soldiers were not men who could be fought after the Chinese fashion of assailing the ears with terrible sounds. They were quickly prepared to meet the enemy. The assaulting column, on reaching the scene of explosion, found that there had been opened here a huge crater, one hundred and fifty feet long, sixty feet wide, and from twenty-five to thirty deep. It did not advance beyond it; instead of rushing forward and crowning the crest, the assailants made the most shameful exhibition of timidity; they huddled into the crater, they sought shelter there, and no commands or persuasions could move them further. A division of negro troops was thrown into the crater-this maw of death; and for two hours the mingled mass of white and black troops, utterly demoralized, unable to pluck up courage to make a determined charge upon the crest, swayed to and fro in the hollow of the exploded earthworks, while the Confederates were rapidly bringing up their artillery on the right and left of the crater to destroy the enemy before he could extricate himself from the disgraceful coil. Once a feeble charge, in which the black troops were put in advance was made towards the crest. It was encountered by Mahone's brigade. His men were ordered not to fire until they could see the whites of the negroes' eyes. At the first volley delivered at this distance, the blacks broke; they were panic-stricken and past control; they rushed through the troops in the crater back to the original lines, while into this slaughter-pen the Confederates now poured an incessant storm of bombs and shells. Retreat across the open space in rear of it was to run the gauntlet of death. The ground all around was dotted with the fallen; while the sides and bottom of the crater were literally lined with dead, the bodies lying in every conceivable position. Some had evidently been killed with the butts of muskets, as their crushed skulls and badly smashed faces too plainly indicated; while the greater portion were shot, great pools of blood having
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.