"CRATER" at Vicksburg--Ignored/Why?

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#1
Everyone wants to always talk about the "Crater" during the Petersburg siege but there was another "Crater" event that happen at Vicksburg, goes unnoticed.

On June 25, 1863, the union explored 2200 pounds of explosives under the Vicksburg line. The line was being guarded by the 3rd Louisiana Redan.

A crater was created by the explosion and the union infantry charge into the opening and into the crater and like at the future crater at Petersburg got trapped in the crater and were gunned down by the Confederates until a case-mate was built.

From what I have read the union explores another crater in the Vicksburg line but no infantry attack follow. It looks like union was expanding the first crater so a column of 4 wide infantry could pass setting up another assault try. It did not come to pass for Vicksburg surrendered.

What is a casemate the union pioneers built that protected the union troops??

Why does the Vicksburg "Crater" goes unnoticed in civil war history?

Why is always the union doing the mine digging and making craters?

Are there any other details of the event I missed?

Any thoughts members....
 

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johan_steele

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#2
A big part of the why it was the Union doing the digging of mines was the large numbers of miners in the US Army in comparison to the CS. While both sides had competant engineers as well the US had more of them.

Probably the main reason the Petersberg Crater is more well known is that it was bigger, more dramatic and more horrific in it's failure. Add to that Mahone... and his detailed account from the CS side.

Both the Craters were good ideas but incompletely thought out.
 

mt155

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#3
The Louisiana boys were aware of the union efforts. They heard the miners and started digging their own counter shafts in an attempt to thwart them. By the time the yanks exploded the mine the rebs had pulled back to a second line of trenches they had built to counter the anticipated effects of the mine. The casualties were not like that of Petersburg.

Mike T.
 

ole

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#4
Note that both the tunnelling things were when Grant was in charge. He was also directing operations when canals were cut and bayous were invaded. If you were anywhere within Grant's command, you didn't get to sit. Better the boys are working than lying about. Apparently, he didn't much care what was being done so long as something was being done. Even if not all were involved, watching the activity and talking about it kept cohesiveness and interest high.

ole
 
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#5
Is the crater at Petersburg the same thing as the tunnel or mine that was dug there by the Federals? I'm not sure of the terms used.
 

ole

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#6
The "Crater" Jules, is the same as the "Mine." All refer to the same action. When talking about the "Crater," it is usually about the action that took place after the mine was exploded. The "Mine" is almost a separate action, but they are interconnected.

ole
 
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#7
I remember reading one story about the Vicksburg mine. I think it was in the Bruce Catton book 'This Hallowed Ground'. A black Confederate cook was blown up and across to the Union lines. He landed unharmed. A group of enterprising Union troops set up a tent, and charged 5 cents to anyone who wanted to see him. Talk about money grabbing Yankees! Good idea though.
 
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#8
Casemate..

A side note I was reading a summary of the Vicksburg siege and it implied that there were a few more mines in the process of being dug when the surrender came.

The casemate was or is a wall the union engineers(pioneers) had to build it under fire in the crater. They used the wood found the destroyed breastworks caused by the crater. That crater must have been an incredible sight during the fight.

An observation: It seems that building mines was the thing to do at Vicksburg to end the siege but at Petersburg Grant only tried to build one mine unless there is a story I do not know. I wonder why Grant was all for mines at Vicksburg but not at Petersburg so much.
 
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#9
A side note I was reading a summary of the Vicksburg siege and it implied that there were a few more mines in the process of being dug when the surrender came.

The casemate was or is a wall the union engineers(pioneers) had to build it under fire in the crater. They used the wood found the destroyed breastworks caused by the crater. That crater must have been an incredible sight during the fight.

An observation: It seems that building mines was the thing to do at Vicksburg to end the siege but at Petersburg Grant only tried to build one mine unless there is a story I do not know. I wonder why Grant was all for mines at Vicksburg but not at Petersburg so much.

Just conjecture, but the lines at Vicksburg were much closer than the mines at Petersburg. No one thought the miners at Petersburg could dig that far: the miners, they said, would all suffocate.
 

mt155

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#10
Those Pennsylvania boys (at Petersburg) knew their work well. They built shafts along certain points that went all the way to ground level. In the mine shaft itself, where it intersected with the horizontal shaft, a fire would be set. The heated air would rise through the vertical shaft. This would in turn draw more air into the area vacated by the rising heated air, thus ventilation of the mine shaft. The tricky part was disguising the smoke appearing at ground level from the fires.

Mike T.
 

Freddy

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#11
Reading the June 25, 26, and 27 entries in my great grandfather's diary at Vicksburg he does not mention anything about the crater or mines. Not sure where he was in relation to the crater/mine.

June 25th.
Routed at 4:30AM. Our company to work digging trenches, and soon as coffee was swallowed marched to our task. Very warm causing us to sweat profusely. Were not drove very hard working every other hour or in two reliefs. Some “played off” working scarce any during the day some merely making believe and others skidadling out of sight. Neglected prayer, as a special act, so hurried in the morning and tired at night. Still feel that if I had been truly thirsty for communion with God I could have found time for a short season of secret prayer.

June 26th.
Lazy and drowsy all day and did literally almost nothing.

June 27th.
Most of the regiment out digging. Cleaned gun and equipment. Spent the afternoon in reading in a shady spot near to camp. Our campground is situated at the foot of a wooded hill, at the top of which cool shady spots invite us to leave our stifled tents and pass our leisure hours where neither mosquitoes nor flies molest. Occasional breezes cool the fierce rays of the sun.
 
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#12
Amazing...

Reading the June 25, 26, and 27 entries in my great grandfather's diary at Vicksburg he does not mention anything about the crater or mines. Not sure where he was in relation to the crater/mine.

June 25th.
Routed at 4:30AM. Our company to work digging trenches, and soon as coffee was swallowed marched to our task. Very warm causing us to sweat profusely. Were not drove very hard working every other hour or in two reliefs. Some “played off” working scarce any during the day some merely making believe and others skidadling out of sight. Neglected prayer, as a special act, so hurried in the morning and tired at night. Still feel that if I had been truly thirsty for communion with God I could have found time for a short season of secret prayer.

June 26th.
Lazy and drowsy all day and did literally almost nothing.

June 27th.
Most of the regiment out digging. Cleaned gun and equipment. Spent the afternoon in reading in a shady spot near to camp. Our campground is situated at the foot of a wooded hill, at the top of which cool shady spots invite us to leave our stifled tents and pass our leisure hours where neither mosquitoes nor flies molest. Occasional breezes cool the fierce rays of the sun.

It must be amazing to have family roots that date back and active in the civil war. Plus your forefathers left you a writen record of thier exprience of that terible time in our nation history.

My forefather's date back late 1850's on my dad's side but they did not directly fight in the union war effort. On my mom's side no history of anyone fight in the southern war effort.

Enjoy your forefathers gift..

Where was your forefather's unit placed on the union lines at Vicksburg? How far form the crater?
 

Bonny Blue Flag

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#13
Vicksburg is hush-hush with CW

I visted Vicksburg 2 years ago to study the battle, the town, etc.

The immediate impression the town presents is one that seems to say, "Welcome to Vicksburg, visit the sights...then go home." Is it the small-town-saddled-with-a-national-park syndrome or is it a town that is in a perpetual state of defeat and never got over the battle?

Like any small town with a historic connection, there are the big hotels on the edge of town, Vicksburg has 5 floating ******s on the riverbanks.

But when it comes to all things CW within the city limits, the signage is small and kept to a minimum; there is one museum which has a section devoted to the caves the townspeople fled to -- nothing else is mentioned about the caves anywhere else in town. I would have loved to have driven near the caves just to see them from the car or drive to the general area where the caves are. Maybe the town is ashamed of them or is bored stiff with them.

There is little to no upkeep of the public areas in town--as an example, the boulevards (grassy areas between streets) are left to weeds and flowering dandylions. There was only one place that seemed to have a sense of pride, it was a family-owned italian restaurant in downtown.

The battlefield is in good shape, the tour guide knew his business. When we drove by the confederate lines or the areas of the park designated for confederate statues, etc, the guide almost mumbled and would quickly begin to speak about the next subject on our tour. Perhaps the history was embarrasing to him or painful for him?

There is a CW era home that is advertized for tours, showing photos of the beautiful grounds and statuary, etc. Upon arriving at the parking lot just off the property, you can't see the home for all the overgrowth. When the tour guides were questioned about the change in looks of the grounds vs. what is advertized, the answers were vague at best.

The crater at Vicksburg seems to be receiving the same treatment as the rest of the town and the sights.

--BBF
 

gary

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#14
Freddy, does the diary mention Coonskin Foster and his tower? BTW, if you have time, get that diary published. I love reading first hand accounts and they constitute the majority of my research.
 

mobile_96

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#15
I visted Vicksburg 2 years ago to study the battle, the town, etc.
But when it comes to all things CW within the city limits, the signage is small and kept to a minimum; there is one museum which has a section devoted to the caves the townspeople fled to -- nothing else is mentioned about the caves anywhere else in town. I would have loved to have driven near the caves just to see them from the car or drive to the general area where the caves are. Maybe the town is ashamed of them or is bored stiff with them.
--BBF
Bonny, I was in Vicks with a tour made up of members of a online group.
From my readings, and discussions while in Vicks, the caves were not located in 1 general area, but scattered around the city. Over the years almost all the caves were filled in due to the dangers of collapse, especially for kids that tried sneaking into them to play.
Presently there are only a few still in existance, and even that might be down to only 1 now. And that one is completely shut off from the public, due to its crumbling condition. Winschel, our tour guide for 2 days, said he thought it had been several years since any one had tried to go inside it.
As for signage being small, I appreciate that. You can find maps to guide you around town to the various important sites, which I believe to be much better than large signs marring the already cluttered signage of the town. At least there are signs. At Corineth, you can get lost very quickly because of a dirth of, or poor positioning of small guide signs.
As for the crater, due to time limitations, most of us never got over to that area so have no idea of what the crater area looks like today. As for the crater being ignored, I don't find that, at least in the several books I have on Vicks.
You can find my photos of the Vicksburg trip on my website at http://mobile96.com , if interested.
Chuck
 

Freddy

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#17
It must be amazing to have family roots that date back and active in the civil war. Plus your forefathers left you a writen record of thier exprience of that terible time in our nation history.

My forefather's date back late 1850's on my dad's side but they did not directly fight in the union war effort. On my mom's side no history of anyone fight in the southern war effort.

Enjoy your forefathers gift..

Where was your forefather's unit placed on the union lines at Vicksburg? How far form the crater?
As I said the diary entries did not really say. However, after checking The History of the 35th MA I found they were camped in Milldale and that one morning they heard a loud explosion and more firing than usual. This was described as the blowing up of a mine under an enemy fort. That is it and I do not know how far Milldale is from the Crater/mine/fort attack. Can anyone help?
 

Bonny Blue Flag

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#18
In regards to Freddy's inquiry of Milldale, the CWSAC battle summaries shows a community named Milldale Church to be located north and east of Vicksburg, just southeast of a slightly larger town named Snyder's Hill / Snyder's Bluff, in Warren County, Ms.

The site, Chonology of the Well-Traveled 100th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regulars, aka The Roundheads, has journal entries of their activities around and thru these areas; look at the entries for 6.17.1863 and 7.24.1863.

--BBF
 

gary

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#19
BTW Freddy, to answer your question about the mine under the Third Lousiana's Redan, it is ignored but it's because of a long standing opinion that if it didn't happen in Virginia and involving Bobby Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, it wasn't worth reading about. The past few decades has seen some correction and there are more published journals, diaries and memoirs of soldiers who fought in west of Northern Virginia. There are also more scholarly works for those areas too. I've about half a shelf of books on Vicksburg (but a full shelf on Gettysburg). This doesn't include the regimental histories, diaries or journals where the individual fought at Vicksburg either.
 

mobile_96

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#20
As I said the diary entries did not really say. However, after checking The History of the 35th MA I found they were camped in Milldale and that one morning they heard a loud explosion and more firing than usual. This was described as the blowing up of a mine under an enemy fort. That is it and I do not know how far Milldale is from the Crater/mine/fort attack. Can anyone help?
Based on Ninety-Eight Days by Grabau, map 58, I'd estimate about 17 miles from the crater and Milldale.
And its not quite due North, being east only a couple of degrees off due North.
Chuck
 



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