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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tomato, Cilantro and Mozzarello Salad

Tomato, Cilantro and Mozzarello Salad

2 large fresh tomatoes, washed and diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarello cheese
Salt to taste

Add all ingredients together, gently toss, serve. Serves 4.

Source: Me!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Petersburg Crater

The Battle of the Crater in Petersburg, Virginia
U.S. Siege Works at Petersburg, notice the sharpened staves ready to impale

............Lt. Col. Henry Pleasants

Lt. Col. Henry Pleasants, the commanding officer of the 48th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry and a mining engineer by profession, overheard one of the enlisted men mutter, "We could blow that damned fort out of existence if we could run a mine shaft under it." From this and similar remarks came the germ of the idea for the Union mine. This is what the 48th Regiment proposed to do: dig a long gallery from the bottom of the ravine behind their picket line to a point beneath the Confederate battery at Elliott's Salient, blow up the position by means of powder placed in the end of the tunnel, and, finally, send a strong body of troops through the gap created in the enemy's line by the explosion. They saw as the reward for their effort the capitulation of Petersburg and, perhaps, the end of the war. After obtaining the permission of Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside and General Ulysses Grant, Pleasants and his men commenced

...................................................................................U.S.A. General Ambrose Everett Burnside

digging their mine shaft on June 25. The lack of proper equipment made it necessary constantly to improvise tools and apparatus with which to excavate. Mining picks were created from straightened army picks. Cracker boxes were converted into hand barrows in which the dirt was removed from the end of the tunnel. A sawmill changed a bridge into timber necessary for shoring up the mine. Pleasants estimated both direction and depth of the tunnel by means of a theodolite (old-fashioned even in 1864) sent him from Washington. The outmoded instrument served its purpose well, however; the mine shaft hit exactly beneath the salient at which it was aimed. It had been considered impossible to dig a tunnel for any considerable distance without spacing shafts at regular intervals in order to replace the polluted air with a fresh supply. Behind the Union picket line and to the right of the mine gallery, although connected with it, the miners dug a ventilating chimney. Between the chimney and the mine entrance they erected an airtight canvas door. Through that door and along the floor of the gallery there was laid a square wooden pipe. A fire was then built at the bottom of the ventilating shaft. As the fire warmed the air it went up the chimney. The draft thus created drew the bad air from the end of the tunnel where the men were digging. As this went out, fresh air was drawn in through the wooden pipe to replace it.

By July 17 the diggers were nearly 511 feet from the entrance and directly beneath the battery in Elliott's Salient. The Confederates had become suspicious by this time, for the faint sounds of digging could be heard issuing from the earth. Their apprehension took the form of countermines behind their own lines.

The next step in the Union plan was to burrow out into lateral galleries at the end of the long shaft. Accordingly, on July 18 work was begun on these branches which extended to the right and left, paralleling the Confederate fortifications above. When completed, these added another 75 feet to the total length of the tunnel which now reached 586 feet into the earth. It was about 20 feet from the floor of the tunnel to the enemy works above. The average internal dimensions of the shaft were 5 feet high, with a base 4 1/2 feet in width tapering to 2 feet at the top.

Digging was finally completed on July 23. Four days later the task of charging the mine with black powder was accomplished. Three hundred and twenty kegs of powder weighing, on the average, 25 pounds each were arranged in the two lateral galleries in eight magazines. The total charge was 4 tons, or 8,000 pounds.

It had been Burnside's hope that a fresh and numerically strong (about 4,300) Negro division should lead the charge after the explosion. Meade opposed this on the grounds that if the attack failed the Union commanders could be accused of wanting to get rid of the only Negro troops then with the Army of the Potomac. Burnside was not informed of this decision until the day before the battle, July 29, and he was forced to change his plans at the last moment. Three white divisions were to make the initial charge along with the colored troops. Burnside had the commanding generals of these three divisions draw straws to see which would lead. Gen. James F. Ledlie of the 1st Division won the draw.

At 3:15 a. m., July 30, Pleasants lit the fuse of the mine and mounted the parapet to see the results of his regiment's work. The explosion was expected at 3:30 a. m. Minutes passed slowly by, and the men huddled behind the lines grew more apprehensive. By 4:15 there could be no doubt but that something had gone wrong. Two volunteers from the 48th Regiment (Lt. Jacob Douty and Sgt. Harry Reese) crawled into the tunnel and found that the fuse had burned out at the splice. They relighted it and scrambled to safety. Finally, at about 4:45 a. m., the explosion took place. The earth trembled as men, equipment, and debris were hurled high into the air. At least 278 Confederate troops were killed or wounded in the tremendous blast, and 2 of the 4 guns in the battery were destroyed beyond repair. The measurements of the size of the crater torn by the powder vary considerably, but it seems to have been at least 170 feet long, 60 to 80 feet wide, and 30 feet deep.

Removal of obstructions between the lines caused further delay. Soon, however, an advance was made to the crater where many of the attacking force paused to seek shelter on its steep slopes or to look at the havoc caused by the mine. The hard-pressed Confederates rallied quickly and soon were pouring shells and bullets into their opponents. With the path to Petersburg supposedly open, some 15,000 Union attackers including 4,300 black soldiers rushed across the field. They poured into the breach; but, instead of going forward, they either joined their comrades in the crater or branched out to the immediate right and left along the lines. By 8:30 that morning a large part of the IX Corps had been poured into the captured enemy salient. Over 15,000 troops now filled and surrounded the crater.

By prompt action and determined effort the Confederates had stopped the attack. The attention of three batteries was soon directed on the Blue-clad men in the crater. Repeated volleys of artillery shot and shell raked the huddled groups of increasingly demoralized men. In addition, mortars were brought to within 50 yards of the crater and started to drop shells on the soldiers with deadly effect.

Little Billy (because he was 5'5" and 100 lbs)
Major General William Mahone,
Confederate leader at the Battle of the Crater

By 6 a. m. an order had been sent to General Mahone to move two brigades of his division from the lines south of Petersburg to the defense of the threatened position. Then General Robert E. Lee joined General Beauregard in observing the battle from the Gee house, 500 yards to the rear of the scene of strife.

.........................Major General Bushrod Rust Johnston Confederate leader with Mahone at Battle of Crater

A thin line of Confederate survivors formed in the depression just beyond the deep crater and began to fight back. The Feds seized 150 yards of works on either side of the crater but could advance no further. With all this effort and advantage, the Union never achieved the immediate objective to reach the top of Cemetery Hill. For several hours, soldiers huddled in and around "the horrid pit" in fierce battle. Once struck, men fell into the crater. Bodies, mostly of Union soldiers were described as piled two or three deep in the bloody mud. The firefight was so thick and heavy that bullets have been found which collided in mid-air, point-to-point.

Meanwhile, Confederate reinforcements prepared to counterattack as "South Carolina troops under the command of Stephen Elliott turned dreadful disaster into victory". By 9 A.M., Confederate Brig. General William Mahone's division rushed into the wild melee with 800 Virginians to recapture the trenches against great odds. In the face of Confederate rage, the day turned away from the Feds and their losses mounted. The rage of the Southerners intensified in seeing black soldiers attacking them and especially when wounded by African American soldiers. Some of the white Union soldiers actually turned their rifles on black soldiers, reportedly fearful of being taken prisoner with them. By mid afternoon, the crater and surrounding works were again firmly in the hands of the Confederates. In spite of the Confederate resistance, most of the Northern Negro division and other regiments had, by 8 a. m., advanced a short distance beyond their companions at the crater.

General George Gordon Meade,U.S.A. leader at Battle of Crater

Again, at about 10:30 a. m., more of Mahone's troops charged, but were repulsed. Meanwhile, the lot of the Northern soldiers was rapidly becoming unbearable. The spectacle within the crater was appalling. Confederate artillery continued to beat upon them. The closely packed troops (dead, dying, and living mixed indiscriminately together) lacked shade from the blazing sun, food, water and, above all, competent leadership. Meade had ordered their withdrawal more than an hour before the second Confederate charge, but Burnside delayed the transmission of the order till after midday. Many men had chosen to run the gantlet of fire back to their own lines, but others remained clinging to the protective sides of the crater.

The last scene in the battle occurred shortly after 1 p. m. A final charge by Mahone's men was successful in gaining the slopes of the crater. Some of the Union men overcome with exhaustion and realizing the helplessness of their situation, surrendered; but others continued to fight. At one point where resistance centered, the Confederates put their hats on ramrods and lifted them over the rim of the crater. The caps were promptly torn to shreds by a volley. Before their foe could reload, Mahone's forces jumped into the crater where a desperate struggle with bayonets, rifle butts, and fists ensued.

Soon it was all over. The Union Army had suffered a loss of over 4,000 in killed, wounded, or captured as against about 1,500 for the Confederates. Again, as on June 15—18, a frontal assault had failed to take the Confederate citadel. Two hammering U.S. blows against the Confederates at Petersburg had failed. Moreover, two important railroads still connected the city with the south. Lee, despite his numerically inferior numbers, was still able to maintain a long line of defenses around Petersburg and Richmond.

Sources: a lot of this came from National Park Service, Petersburg National Battle Field, http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/hh/13/hh13f.htm

The Crater at Petersburg today

Major-General Bushrod R. Johnston, commanding the Confederate Forces at the Battle of the Crater, in his report pays this tribute to the South Carolina Soldiers, "In the events of the thirtieth of July there will perhaps be found nothing more heroic or worthy of higher admiration than the conduct of the South Carolina Regiments."

Stan's great-great-grandfather, Gamewell Calhoun Harris was too young to serve during the War of Northern Aggression but his 3 older brothers did serve. One was at home at the time of the explosion, one died in the explosion and one was buried up to his neck but was dug out by a Union man who wanted his tobacco (in his pant's pocket). They served in SC Infantry, 18th Regiment, Co. A. Edward Harris, Private is listed as one of the dead.

George Clark, Waco, Texas, ALABAMIANS IN THE CRATER BATTLE in the 1895 edition of the Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. III, No. 3, Nashville, Tenn.

"On reaching the works the real fight began. Our men poured over into the crater and the ring of steel and bayonet in hand-to-hand fight began. Men were brained by butts of guns, and run through with bayonets. The brave Saunders (who sleeps in Hollywood) had a regular duel with a big Negro soldier, and both proved bad marksmen. Adjutant Fonville, of the Fourteenth Alabama (the bravest soldier ever under fire), was killed by a Negro soldier. So was Lieut. John W. Cole, of the Eleventh Alabama, and many other brave officers and men. This melee kept up for at least fifteen minutes, the enemy fighting with desperation because they were impressed with the idea that no quarter would be given. The credit of capturing the crater and all its contents belongs to Morgan Smith Cleveland, then Adjutant of the Eighth Alabama Regiment, who now fills a Patriot's grave at Selma, Alabama. I am told that his grave is unmarked, if not unknown, and that he was buried by charity; and I hang my head in humiliation if this information is true. Morgan Cleveland was as humane and tender as he was brave. Standing in the crater, in the midst of the horrid carnage, with almost bursting heart he said to a Federal colonel who was near him, 'Why in the hell don't you fellows surrender?' and he put the accent on the cuss word. The Yankee replied quickly, 'Why in the hell don't you let us?' A wink being as good as a nod, either to a blind horse or a brave soldier, the effect was instantaneous. The enemy threw down their arms, marched out as prisoners, some being killed or wounded by their own cannon as they filed past where I stood, and the day was saved as a glorious heritage for the Southern soldier and those who come after him. I remember helping Gen. Bartlett, of Boston (I think Bartlett was his name), who was trying to get out on two muskets inverted and used as crutches. I could see no evidence of physical pain in his face, and remarked to him that he must have nerves of steel, as his leg was shot away. He smiled and replied that he had lost his real leg at Williamsburg two years before, and the leg he had just had shattered was a cork leg."

What happened to General Burnside after his fiasco? Burnside was relieved of command on 8/14/1864 and sent on leave by General Grant; General Meade never recalled him to duty. A court of inquiry later placed the blame for the Crater fiasco on Burnside and his subordinates. In December, Burnside met with President Lincoln and General Grant about his future. He was contemplating resignation, but Lincoln and Grant requested that he remain in the Army. At the end of the interview, Burnside wrote, "I was not informed of any duty upon which I am to be placed." He finally resigned his commission on 4/15/1865. After the War he was employed on several railroad directorships. He was Governor of Rhode Island for 3 1-yr terms. He was elected by Rhode Island as a U.S. Senator in 1874 and served in that capacity until he died of "neuralgia of the heart" which is angina that leads to heart attack.

General Meade was best known for his defeat of General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg, PA. He was given command of the Army of the Potomac on June 28, 1863 when Hooker resigned. Just before the July 3, 4, 5 of Gettysburg. Meade was a competent and outwardly modest man, although correspondence with his wife throughout the war suggests he was disguising his ego and ambition. Meade's short temper earned him notoriety, and while he was respected by most of his peers, he was not well-loved by his army. Some referred to him as "a damned old goggle-eyed snapping turtle." When Lt. Gen. Ulysses Grant was appointed commander of all Union armies in March 1864, Meade offered to resign, but Grant refused and Meade and the Army of the Potomac became subordinate to him. Grant made his headquarters with Meade for the remainder of the war, which caused Meade to chafe at the close supervision he received. The press hated him and attributed successes to Grant which angered Meade. a few instances of bad judgment marred his legacy. During the Battle of Cold Harbor, Meade inadequately supervised his corps commanders and did not insist they perform reconnaissance before their disastrous frontal assault. Inexplicably, Meade wrote to his wife immediately after the attack and expressed pride that it was he who ordered the attack. During the initial assaults on Petersburg, Meade again failed to coordinate the attacks of his corps before General Lee could reinforce the line, resulting in the ten-month stalemate, the Seige of Petersburg. He approved the plan of Maj. Gen. Burnside to plant explosives in a mine shaft dug underneath the Confederate line east of Petersburg, but at the last minute he changed Burnside's plan to lead the attack with a well-trained African-American division, instructing him to take a politically less risky course and substitute an untrained and poorly led white division. The resulting Battle of the Crater was one of the great fiascoes of the war. In all of these cases, Grant bears some of the responsibility for approving Meade's plans, but Meade was not performing to the level of competence he displayed at Gettysburg. After the War he continued to serve in the military and died in 1872 of complications from his War wounds and pneumonia.

Major General Little Billy William Mahone - After the war, Lee advised his generals to go back to work rebuilding the Southern economy. William Mahone did just that, and became the driving force in the linkage of N&P, South Side Railroad, and the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. He was president of all three by the end of 1867. He left that position in 1881. He was Mayor of Petersburg. He ran for Governor but lost. He was one of the leaders of the Readjustors Party which was made up of Democrats, Republicans and Blacks. He was voted in on the Readjustor's ticket as a U.S. Senator in 1881. He then became associated with the Republican Party. He lost his Senate seat in 1889. He continued to stay involved in politics until he had a catastrophic stroke in 1895 and died a week later.

Major General Bushrod Rust Johnston - In 1866 he resumed his favorite occupation, that of a teacher, and served as professor of engineering, mechanics and natural philosophy in the Western military institute at Georgetown, Ky., until 1880. His health failing, he retired in 1875 to a farm at Brighton, Ill. On December 7th of that year he died at the age of sixty-three years.

Lt. Col. Henry Clay Pleasants - was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and did not move to America until he was 13 yrs old. He was sent to school in Philadelphia, PA. He became an engineer for the PA Railroad and then the coal mines. He moved to Pottsville, PA to become a coal mining engineer. As we know he fought in the U.S. Army during the War. Pleasants was brevetted as a brigadier general on 3/13/1865 just before the War ended. Pleasants returned to Pottsville after mustering out of the army in 1865 and resumed his role as a mining engineer for the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, rising to the positions of Chief Engineer and then Superintendent. Pleasants died at the age of 47 and was buried in the Charles Baber Cemetery in Pottsville.

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