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 Brigadier-General Ledlie. With such a mode of determining such a question, need it be wondered that an elfish fate turned up of all the divisions the poorest—a division fitted neither in respect of its composition nor its commander for the glorious but exacting duty assigned it. The hour for the explosion of the mine was fixed at halfpast four in the morning of the 30th. At that hour the match was applied, but, owing to the defective fuse employed, the mine failed to explode. After waiting some time, a commissioned and a non-commissioned officer1 volunteered for the perilous duty of entering the mine and ascertaining the cause of the failure. The fuse being relighted, the mine exploded at forty-two minutes past four in the morning. A solid mass of earth, through which the exploding powder blazed like lightning playing in a bank of clouds, arose slowly some two hundred feet into the air, and, hanging visibly for a few seconds, it subsided, and a heavy cloud of black smoke floated off. The explosion of the mine was the signal for a simultaneous outburst of artillery fire from the various batteries. This had the effect of soon silencing the enemy's guns.2 The leading division under Ledlie then advanced to the charge. The place d'armes was, however, very restricted: no proper debouches had been prepared for the assaulting column,3 and the advance was made slowly and stragglingly.
2 ‘On the morning of the 30th, as soon as the mine exploded, our fire opened along the whole line. The firing was from each piece slow, deliberate, and careful, partaking of the nature of target practice, and was very effective. The enemy's guns in front of the Fifth Corps were soon silenced, and his fire in front of the Ninth Corps confined to a battery on the hill behind the mine, and to one gun from another work south of the mine, which could not be effectually reached.’—Hunt: Report of Artillery Operations.
3 On this point Lieutenant-General Grant says: ‘I am satisfied that he [General Burnside] did not make the debouchement that he was ordered to make. I know that as well as I know any thing that 1 cannot exactly swear to.’—Report on the Conduct of the War, second series, vol. i., p. 110. General Meade says: ‘There was a high parapet in front of our lines, an abatis, and other obstacles to keep the enemy from us. Those obstacles should have been removed to enable our troops to move out promptly. There was but a small opening made, by which the Ninth Corps, fifteen thousand men, moved out by the flank.’—Ibid., p. 35. See also the testimony of Major Duane, Ibid., p. 99 Warren, Ibid., p. 83.
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