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Pandemonium in the pit.

In the pit pandemonium reigned. Men shot on the crest tumbled in upon the wounded, lying in torture at the bottom. The day was hot. Sulphurous gases escaped from the debris and there was no water at hand, the way back to the Union lines was swept by fire and was corduroyed with dead. Refusing to retreat, men sought death by charging forward. Officers threw away their lives by mounting the walls to inspire the men to move out and relieve the horrible jam in the pit. One of these martyrs was a mere boy, Lieutenant Pennell, an aid to General Thomas. So many bullets struck him that his body whirled around like a top before it fell.

Lieutenant-General U. S. Grant, commanding the United States Army, in his report to General Halleck, under date of August 1, 1864, at City Point, Va., says:

The loss in the disaster of Saturday last foots up about 3,500, of whom 450 men were killed and 2,000 wounded.

It was the saddest affair I have witnessed in the war.

Such opportunity for carrying fortifications I have never seen and do not expect to again to have.

The enemy, with a line of works five miles long, had been reduced, [89] by our previous movements to the north side of James river, to a force of only three divisions. This line was undermined and blown up, carrying a battery and most of a regiment with it.

The enemy were taken completely by surprise and did not recover from it for more than an hour.

The Crater and several hundred yards of the enemy's line to the right and left of it, and a short detached line in front of the Crater, were occupied by our troops without opposition.

Immediately in front of this, and not 150 yards off, with clear ground intervening, was the crest of the ridge leading into town, and which, if carried, the enemy would have made no resistance, but would have continued a flight already commenced.

It was three hours from the time our troops first occupied their works before the enemy took possession of the crest.

I am constrained to believe that, had instructions been promptly obeyed, Petersburg would have been carried, with all the artillery and a large number of prisoners, without a loss of 300 men.

It was in getting back to our lines that the loss was sustained.

The enemy attempted to charge and retake the lines captured from them, and were repulsed with heavy loss by our artillery. Their loss in killed must be greater than ours, whilst our loss in wounded and captured is four times that of the enemy.

Official Records, Serial Number 80, page 17.

“The enemy” which took possession of the crest was evidently Mahone's Brigade, and the charge repulsed mentioned by General Grant must have been that of Wright's Brigade.

Next morning was a bright and beautiful Sabbath, and nothing worth noting occurred. Many of the Federal dead remained on the field, putrefying under the scorching rays of the sun.

I remember a negro, between the lines, who had both legs blown off. He crawled up to the outside of our works, struck three muskets with bayonets in the ground, and threw a small pice of tent cloth over them to shelter his head from the hot sunshine. After awhile, in an interval, when the shots from the enemy had slackened, one of our soldiers managed to push a cup of water to him, which he drank and immediately commenced to froth at the mouth, dying in a very short time after.

He had lived in this mangled condition for nearly twenty-four hours and for a part of the time almost baking under the hot sun.

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