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[520] Pickett between the Appomattox and the James, and but three divisions in the defenses of Petersburg, with but 13,000 men of all arms, to receive Burnside's assault on the morning of the 30th.

Meade was reluctant to spring his mine without having the steady Hancock behind Burnside, so Grant recalled the half of the Second corps, gave up the idea of a direct movement on Richmond, and reinforced Burnside, as Meade desired. Sheridan's cavalry was also brought back, to create a demonstration on Lee's right,. and so, by threatening his wings, divert attention from the intended assault on his center.

In his official report of 1865, Grant thus describes this battle of the Crater:

On the morning of the 30th, between 4 and 5 o'clock, the mine was sprung, blowing up a battery and most of a regiment, and the advance of the assaulting column, formed by the Ninth corps, immediately took possession of the crater made by the explosion and the line for some distance to the right and left of it, and a detached line in front of it, but for some cause failed to advance promptly to the ridge beyond. Had they done this, I have every reason to believe that Petersburg would have fallen. Other troops were immediately pushed forward, but the time consumed in get. ting them up enabled the enemy to rally from his surprise (which had been complete) and get forces to this point for its defense. The captured line thus held, being untenable and of no advantage to us, the troops were withdrawn, but not without heavy loss. Thus terminated in disaster what promised to be the most successful assault of the campaign.

This explosion partially destroyed Elliott's brigade and opened a wide gap into Petersburg, without a single Confederate soldier present to contest the passage of Burnside through to the rear of Lee's lines. More than one hundred and sixty Federal guns concentrated their fire on the Confederate works, to the right and left of this breach, to engage attention while Burnside made his assault. This terrific explosion, for the time being, naturally terrified the nearby men of both armies, and twenty minutes passed before Burnside's leading brigade advanced, cautiously, up the slope of the crater and took shelter in its yawning opening, which was 135 feet in length and 30 feet in depth. The commanding hill of Blanford cemetery, within the Confederate lines, was just in front of the assaulting column and undefended; but Burnside's men lingered within the crater and failed to move on to this point of vantage. Another brigade

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