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Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee


About this time, the enemy, having been at work on a mine for nearlya month, exploded it, and attacked our lines with a large force. Theensuing contest was called the Battle of the Crater. General Lee,having suspected that a mine was being run under his works, waspartly prepared for it, and the attack was repulsed very quickly withgreat loss to the enemy. In the address of Capt. W. Gordon McCabebefore the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia--November 2,1876--speaking of this event, he says:

"From the mysterious paragraphs in the Northern papers, and from reportsof deserters, though those last were vague and contradictory, Lee andBeauregard suspected that the enemy was mining in front of some oneof the three salients on Beauregard's front, and the latter officerhad in consequence directed counter-mines to be sunk from all three,meanwhile constructing gorge-lines in the rear upon which the troopsmight retire in case of surprise or disaster.... But the counter-mining on the part of the Confederates was after a time discontinued,owing to the lack of proper tools, the inexperience of the troops insuch work, and the arduous nature of their service in the trenches."

The mine was sprung July 30th. On the 31st, the General writes:

"...Yesterday morning the enemy sprung a mine under one of our batterieson the line and got possession of a portion of our intrenchments. Itwas the part defended by General Beauregard's troops, I sent GeneralMahone with two brigades of Hill's corps, who charged them handsomely,recapturing the intrenchments and guns, twelve stands of colours,seventy-three officers, including General Bartlett, his staff, threecolonels, and eight hundred and fifty enlisted men. There wereupward of five hundred of his dead and unburied in the trenches,among them many officers and blacks. He suffered severely. He haswithdrawn his troops from the north side of the James. I do not knowwhat he will attempt next. He is mining on other points along our line.I trust he will not succeed in bettering his last attempt...."


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