there: an enormous hole in the ground about 30 feet deep, 60 feet wide and 170 feet long, filled with dust, great blocks of clay, guns, broken carriages, projecting timbers, and men buried in various ways—some up to their necks, others to their waists, and some with only their feet and legs protruding from the earth. * * *
The whole scene of the explosion,
continues Major Powell
struck every one dumb with astonishment as we arrived at the crest of the debris.
It was impossible for the troops of the Second Brigade to move forward in line, as they had advanced; and owing to the broken state they were in, every man crowding up to look into the hole, and being pressed by the First brigade, which, was immediately in rear, it was equally impossible to move by the flank, by any command, around the crater.
Before the brigade commanders could realize the situation, the brigades became inextricably mixed in the desire to look into the hole. * * * *
From the next paragraph of Major Powell
's article it appears that Colonel Pleasants
was in error as to the extent of the demoralization of the Confederates
incident upon the explosion, as the South Carolinians in the trenches near the Crater were quick to recover their equanimity and to make the incoming Federals feel their presence.
In this paragraph this Federal officer says:
However, Colonel Marshall yelled to the Second brigade to move forward, and the men did so, jumping, sliding and tumbling into the hole, over the debris of material, and dead and dying men, and huge blocks of solid clay.
They were followed by General Bartlett's brigade.
Up on the other side of the Crater they climbed, and while a detachment stopped to place two of the dismounted guns of the battery in position on the enemy's side of the crest of the Crater, a portion of the leading brigade passed over the crest and attempted to reform.
It was at this period that they found they were being killed by musket-shots from the rear, fired by the Confederates, who were still occupying the traverses and intrenchments to the right and left of the Crater.
These men had been awakened by the noise and :shock of the explosion, and during the interval before the attack had recovered their equanimity, and when the Union troops attempted to reform on the enemy's side of the Crater, they had faced about and delivered a fire into the backs of our men. This coming so unexpectedly caused the forming line to fall back into the Crater.