The Mining Effort That Is Forgotten
The Union mine attack on the Third Louisiana Redan (a.k.a. Fort Hill) on 25 June 1863 presaged another similar combat action 1000 miles away a year later?
Following Grant’s 26 May order to take Vicksburg by siege, troops under General M.D. Leggett, following instructions of Captain Andrew Hickenlooper, the Chief Engineer XVII Corps, constructed a tunnel and exploded 2200 pounds of black powder under the 3rd Louisiana Redan and created a crater 12 feet deep and 40 feet wide. Troops of the 45th Illinois Infantry (Lead Mine Regiment) under Col. Jasper A. Maltby of Logan’s XVII Corps attacked and entered the fortification but were unable to hold the position and had to withdraw and regroup while grenades and shells were rolled down and exploded upon them. A second mine was exploded on 1 July under this position but no assault was launched. Neither of the mining operations succeeded in breaking the line.
Mining operations were conducted by units composed of experienced miners and mineral mining engineers. Confederate units used counter measures to identify enemy mining attempts and even sunk countermines in attempts to interdict the opponent’s tunnels.
The Battle of the Crater, 30 July 1864, during the Petersburg siege is the most well known Civil War mining operation.