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A Turner Bugler, 2004

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The Assault on Petersburg.


July and August 1864

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, August 2, 1864.





Detailed Account of the Explosion of the Mine.


Two Lines of the Enemy’s Works Carried.


Partial List of Casualties.

HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, July 30, 9 P. M.—After the explosion at an early hour this morning, everything betokened a brilliant victory, but soon after matters assumed an different aspect, part of the attacking force having given away thus exposing the balance to an enfilading fire from both artillery and infantry.

The programme was as follows:  The mine was to be exploded at three A. M., and the batteries open at once along the entire line.  Immediately after the explosion the 9th corps was to charge, supported by the 18th and Ayers’ division of the 5th corps, and the 3d division of the 2d corps.  The greater part of the arrangement was carried out as ordered, although the commencement was later than the hour designated on account of the fuze going out twice.

The explosion took place at precisely forty minutes past four o’clock.  The roar of artillery that immediately followed was almost deafening.  At 5:30 the charge was made, and the fort with a part of the line each side was carried in a most brilliant style.

The 2d division, which was in the center, advanced and carried the second line a short distance beyond the fort, and here rested, holding their ground with the utmost determination.  It was at this time the colored division, under command of Brigadier General White, was pushed forward and ordered to charge and carry the crest of the hill, which would have decided the contest.

The troops advanced in good order as far as the first line, where they received a galling fire which checked them, and although quite a number kept on advancing, the greater portion seemed to have become utterly demoralized, part of them taking refuge in the fort, and the balance running to the rear as fast as possible.  They were rallied and again pushed forward, but without success, the greater part of their officers being killed or wounded.

During this time they seemed to be without any one to manage them, and finally they fell back to the rear, out of range of the enemy’s canister and musketry, that were plowing through their ranks.  Their losses are very heavy, particularly officers, as will be seen by the following figures:  23d U.S. colored, fifteen officers killed and wounded, and four hundred men, including missing; 28th U.S. colored, eleven officers and about one hundred and fifty men killed, wounded and missing; 27th U.S. colored, six officers and about one hundred and fifty men killed, wounded and missing; 29th U.S. colored, eight officers and about 375 men killed, wounded and missing; 43d U.S. colored, six officers and a large number of men killed, wounded and missing; 39th U.S. colored, several officers and almost two hundred and fifty men killed, wounded and missing.