Union forces capped weeks of stealthy underground excavation by exploding an underground mine beneath Confederate defenses near Petersburg, Virginia, on July 30, 1864. The Union aim: to overrun Confederate defenses and seize the city less than 25 miles south of the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. Confederate troops, weapons and debris were tossed in the air by the thundering blast. Despite the shock to the Confederate defenders, a planned Union attack after the blast went askew quickly. Federal forces charging into the huge crater created by the explosion became disoriented and confused. Their planned assault on the Confederate fortifications fell apart as the Confederates regrouped and fought back fiercely. Soon the Confederates had sealed off the gaping hole in their defenses and inflicted heavy casualties on Union forces. This day 150 years ago in the Civil War would mark a clear Confederate victory, though months of siege warfare would follow in the trenches before the Union would eventually prevail.
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