The most famous battle of the Siege of Petersburg was the July 30, 1864 Battle of the Crater. Petersburg National Battlefield will commemorate that battle’s 150th Anniversary with a real-time event which will begin at 5:30am on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Other events scheduled for that day include a Key Note Address at 10:00am, artillery demonstrations, and the United States Postal Service’s unveiling of the new 150th Anniversary commemorative stamp that pay tribute to the role of the United States Colored Troops during the Siege.
In June of 1864, after the Union Army’s initial attempts to take over Richmond’s main supply base at Petersburg failed, Pennsylvania soldiers came up with the idea of digging a tunnel under a portion of the Confederate defense line just to the east of Petersburg. Once under the Southern defenses, the former coal miners would load four tons of black powder underneath 300 Southern soldiers and would detonate it in the early morning hours of July 30, 1864. The goal of the attack which followed the explosion was for the Union IX Corps, under General Ambrose Burnside, to break through the hole in the defenses and gain access into Petersburg. Due to poor leadership and the resolve of determined Confederate troops, the Union Army failed and the battle became known as one of the most brutal and vicious battles of the entire Civil War.
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