May 26, 2009

Seeing the Crater, Petersburg

signExcerpt from the sign "Prelude to the Crater:"
"The predawn darkness of July 30, 1864, shrouded intense Union preparations on this ridge. Thousands of troops filed quietly into the ravine and trenches in front. More than 160 cannon crowded the earthworks to your right and left. Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, commander of the attacking force, took his place in the 14-gun battery (Fort Morton) behind you. By 3:30 a.m. all was ready. Only one detail remained: the explosion of the mine."
group at crater exhibit
wood lined tunnel When I toured Petersburg Battlefield with Dr. Poland's class in 1998, I was suffering from the heat. As temperatures approached 100 degrees F., my face showed my discomfort. Concerned classmates brought me wet towels and convinced me to spend some time resting instead of hiking out to the crater. So I didn't get to see it, although I did make it through the rest of the day without getting heat stroke, which I suppose had been a possibility.

This time the weather was not quite as steamy, and I sat out one of the other walking tours just to be sure that I'd be able to see the crater. I did get to see it and took these photos.

One thing I did not see until I looked at the last photo was the image of a soldier deep inside the shaft. (Can't see him? Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Park Service Page: Battle of the Crater

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