Total War: March to September 1864

Battle of the Crater

What went wrong at “the Crater”?

Almost everything, from the Union point of view. The first men in the Crater were surprised and overwhelmed by the destruction; some even attempted to pull out Confederates from the ruins. But the longer they remained in the Crater, they more they were pushed by the Union men behind them and fired on by the Confederates in front.

The Confederates recovered quickly and began pouring rifle fire into the men jammed into the Crater. It takes an active work of the imagination to see what the Union men trapped in the Crater went through—unless one sees the early part of the movie Cold Mountain, which displays the event in all its horror. The Union leaders had deliberately chosen to bring black troops into the Crater; they came in for more than the normal amount of anger and hate from the Confederates. One Confederate nurse believed that the Crater marked a change in relations between Confederates and Yankees, that the former began to detest and even hate the latter. By the time the attack was called off four hours later, the North had suffered 4,500 men killed, wounded, or missing. What might possibly have been the great breakthrough was instead the great disappointment.


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