“The 48th Pennsylvania regiment was made up primarily of men who had been coal miners in civilian life. As the siege of Petersburg dragged on, the idea arose to dig a tunnel under the Confederate lines. It was dug, and filled with gunpowder, and today the fuse was lit. The result was disaster…for the Union. The initial explosion killed some 280 Confederates, but the subsequent Battle of the Crater was mishandled and poorly led. Casualty totals were 1500 Confederates to 4000 Union killed. This does not include wounded or missing.”
The quoted information above is borrowed from http://www.civilwarinteractive.com/This%20Day/thisday0730.htm.
Below is a poem that presents the Battle of the Crater.
Philosopher at Petersburg
Seems since I took up with the army,
I can fry all the mess I been living
into three ugly slick of grease: bullets,
blood, and bullshit. I can stomach
the bullets and blood, but the bullshit –
that there is the real hitch. Like down
at Petersburg. We dug a tunnel right
under them Rebs, stuffed it with
dynamite. The boom was so big God
must of thought the world was winking
at Him. But then we were ordered to charge.
If the brass had listened to lead slingers
like me, I woulda told them we
shouldn’t run down into that crater,
but down we went. All the Rebs
able to pull a trigger started corking us
as if they were droping bricks in a puddle
choked with catfish. Like I said, I can’t
stomach bullshit, specially when it causes
bullets to fly, blood to flow, and Feds to die.