The Battle of the Crater

A Complete History

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About the Book

The Battle of the Crater is one of the lesser known yet most interesting battles of the Civil War. This book, detailing the onset of brutal trench warfare at Petersburg, Virginia, digs deeply into the military and political background of the battle.
Beginning by tracing the rival armies through the bitter conflicts of the Overland Campaign and culminating with the siege of Petersburg and the battle intended to lift that siege, this book offers a candid look at the perception of the campaign by both sides.

About the Author(s)

John F. Schmutz, corporate attorney and U.S. Army veteran, lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Bibliographic Details

John F. Schmutz
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 428
Bibliographic Info: 70 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012 [2009]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7405-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5367-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

List of Maps      ix

Preface      1

1. “If It Takes All Summer”      5

2. Enemy at the Gates      16

3. War in the Trenches      34

4. The Earth Movers      50

5. The Deep Bottom Diversion      75

6. A Change of Plans      85

7. The Men Are Ready—Are the Generals?      107

8. Inferno at Petersburg      126

9. The Attack Begins: The First Division Enters the Breach      139

10. The Initial Response in Defense of the Breach      156

11. “Push Forward to the Crest at Once”      170

12. The Federal Advance Is Halted      189

13. Into the Valley of Death      213

14. “Forward, and with Cold Steel”      232

15. A Veritable “Slaughter Pen”      260

16. “A Sad Day’s Work, and Nothing Gained”      281

17. “Such a Lot of Fools Did Not Deserve to Succeed”      309

Epilogue: “A Perfect Success, Except It Did Not Succeed”      335

Appendix A: Organization of Opposing Forces      343

Appendix B: Casualties of the Battle of the Crater      352

Appendix C: Medal of Honor Recipients and Confederate Roll of Honor Recipients      357

Appendix D: Union Officers Killed or Mortally Wounded      360

Chapter Notes      363

Bibliography      393

Index      409

Book Reviews & Awards

“this book will probably remain the definitive study of this action for years to come…a well-written and tightly constructed history…must be read by those especially fascinated by the final campaigns of the Civil War. Schmutz has set the standard”—Civil War News; “by far the most comprehensive work on this topic that I have ever encountered…wonderful…excellent writing…a complete history of the Battle of the Crater…highly recommend”—Cincinnati Civil War Round Table; “the most recent and the most thorough contribution to this growing body of literature on the Crater. Though we are likely to see publication of additional studies of the Battle of the Crater in the future, we are unlikely to see one that matches the scope and detail”—H-Net Reviews; “a detailed, tactical study”—America’s Civil War; “a comprehensive treatment of the events leading up to and encompassing this battle”—Civil War Times; “this study by John F. Schmutz is the most recent and the most thorough contribution to this growing body of literature on the Crater. Readers looking for a detailed account of the ebb and flow as well as the broader strategic and operational decisions involved will be pleased”—cwmemory.com; “comes as close to being the definitive account of this largely ignored episode of Civil War history…quite impressive”—Soldier Studies; “John F. Schmutz, has written the fullest account of the Crater Battle yet published…Schmutz sets his contribution apart from the others by delving more widely into the sources and by more fully discussing many aspects of the battle…a solid study…Schmutz can be credited with producing the best current treatment of this fascinating battle”—Virginia Magazine; “the book rates a ‘WOW’—as it surprised me with the writing and the quality of the publication. The book offers a candid look at the perception of battle by both sides as well as the Overland Campaign at Petersburg”—The Lone Star.