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Particulars of Firing of the Mine.


July and August 1864

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




Particulars of the Firing of the Mine.



NEW YORK, August 1.—The morning papers have nothing later from Petersburg than our dispatches yesterday, and but few additional details.  The following is all there is of interest:


[Special Dispatch to the N. Y. Times.]

BEFORE PETERSBURG, July 30.—Soon after daybreak as was practicable for the troops to move in co-operation, an immense mine, reaching far away under the enemy’s line of earthworks in front of Burnside’s corps, was fired.

The explosion was the signal to discharge every piece of artillery we have in position from the Appomattox to our extreme left.  The effect was magnificent.  Ninety-five pieces of ordnance fired so simultaneously that it seemed as if they might have been discharged by the pull of one lanyard.

The firing thus fiercely opened was kept up in the same manner without scarcely a perceptible lull for at least an hour and a half, when we slackened to some extent.  The result of the explosion of the mine was almost to annihilate one of the regiments, and burying their guns.

Under cover partly, and pushing our advantage ground by the suddenness of assault, the 9th corps advanced, taking possession of the works through the gap made by the explosion, and driving the enemy to their second line, which line was on the hilltop eastward fo [sic] the town.

Nineteen of the 23d South Carolina regiment, buried by the explosion, have been dug out alive, badly bruised and scratched, and some of them doubtless mortally hurt.  The attack they pronounced a surprise.  The mine was four hundred feet long, constructed with two galleries diverging from the main passage, making three chambers, in which a train of powder fifteen inches wide and deep was laid.

The effect of the explosion was very disastrous.  The grandeur of the artillery fire I have never seen surpassed.  The enemy’s artillery played but feebly.  But a very few minutes elapsed before the rebel lines were entirely shut from view by banks of smoke, and our gunners could only be guided in their work by having obtained proper range before.

Many shells from the front of the 18th Corps must have struck far into the streets of Petersburg, as from that direction a heavy column of black smoke arose soon after the opening of the fire, evidently from burning buildings.  After the rebel lines were pierced, they made a sudden movement to their left and suffered severely from an enfilading fire.

General Ledlie’s division of Burnside’s corps led the attack, the 14th New York heavy artillery having the advance.

About 100 prisoners, so far, have been brought into Burnside’s headquarters.

The cannonading is still hot, and the rebels hold their positions obstinately.  Our infantry have just received orders to advance.

NEW YORK, August 1.—The Herald’s special says the mine was sprung at three o’clock in the morning, and the Lieutenant General, accompanied by his staff, reached Burnside’s headquarters about an hour after.  Meade and staff was to have arrived at the same headquarters when the appointed hour for the explosion of the mine arrived, but for some reason did not take effect at the place.

Everything moveable in the way of troops had been placed in position to move at the first signal.  The entire 2d corps were held in reserve, but to the hour of writing this dispatch they had not been called into action.

At four o’clock a cloud of dust was seen arising from the rebel entrenchments, this was followed by a general upheaving of the earthworks, and reaching, probably five feet.  The whole mass looked like a huge fountain of earth and dust, and formed a most imposing spectacle.

Simultaneous with the explosion our batteries along the entire line opened a most murderous and destructive fire on the rebel breastworks, and the infantry with deafening cheers rushed into the embankments of the enemy.  Constant cannonading, lasting now one hour and twenty minutes, has been going on.

At six o’clock our valiant troops had captured and occupied the first line of rebel entrenchments.

Prisoners are constantly arriving from the front, and several of our wounded are also coming in.  They report that a great slaughter was inflicted upon the enemy by the explosion and the accurate range of our shells from guns and mortars as terrible in the extreme.

So far the victory is ours.  The air is thick with flying missiles.  We are pushing the enemy steadily and surely and occupying his fortifications.


NEW YORK, July 1 [sic].—The World’s special says the movement of the 3d corps across the James river was a feint, as they were brought back during the darkness of Friday night to their old position.

Sheridan is operating around the rebel right wing, with a large force, and important results are anticipated.

The World’s special from Frederick of the 31st says, no rebel infantry force has yet crossed the Potomac.  Three regiment of cavalry with five pieces of artillery penetrated Pennsylvania as far as Chambersburg, and perhaps beyond.

Our cavalry under Colonel Lowell holds the pass of South Mountain; also,  Boonsboro.  The enemy have recrossed the Potomac, and there is no force of rebels in Maryland.