The Saddest Affair: The Battle of the Crater, 1864

On July 30, 1864, an enormous explosion rocked Confederate trenches at the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, in the Civil War. The blast filled the air with “earth, stones, timbers, arms, legs, guns unlimbered and bodies unlimbed,” a shocked Soldier reported. Union Soldiers—including thousands of U.S. Colored Troops—rushed forward to exploit the gap in the rebels’ lines, but met a bloody repulse. Join historian John Maass to learn how a regiment of Pennsylvanians planned, built, and detonated a mine filled with gunpowder, and how the Union attack that followed was bungled from the start.


Dr. John R. Maass is an education specialist at the National Museum of the United States Army. He received a Ph.D. from the Ohio State University in early U.S. history and military history. A former U.S. Army Reserve officer, his most recent book is “The Battle of Guilford Courthouse: A Most Desperate Engagement” (2020).


Register for virtual Battle Brief on May 14, 2024.


Register for in-person Battle Brief on May 14, 2024.

May 14, 2024 @ 12:00
12:00 pm — 1:00 pm (1h)

ELC, Virtual (Zoom)