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The History Of Military Demolitions Essay

921 words - 4 pages

Since the discovery of gunpowder by the Chinese, the world as we know it has made more efficient and powerful weapons. Throughout the history of warfare from the medieval times to present day, explosives have been used as an Offensive and Defensive weapon. When a castle or army was under siege the attacking army would surround the objective and cut off all supply lines and try to starve the enemy into submission. With the invention of gunpowder it made the siege obsolete. This was empowered by the cannon and other forms of field artillery, which allowed the objective to be overthrown quickly. Military grade explosives are used for benign reasons also. Within the past few years an emphasis has been placed upon demining war torn countries that are ravaged by unclaimed and unaccounted mines emplaced by the host nation. This action is being undertaken to make the countries safer for the citizens of those countries. Throughout history stalemates have occurred during war, Engineers or Soldiers with knowledge of explosives were called upon to end the stalemate. This essay will cover one such incident during the Battle of Crater and the siege of Petersburg, Virginia during the American Civil War.
The Civil War is considered the bloodiest war in the history of the United States of America with 618,000 deaths, and numerous injuries that left many on both sides of the war maimed and handicapped. Due to the four years that the war lasted, the tolerance for war had grown very thin as time dragged on with the citizens of the United States. Many military officers and politicians were falling out of favor with the citizens, and with drastic times come drastic measures. The siege of Petersburg, Virginia had been dragging on for eight months and General Grant was receiving pressure from President Lincoln and other politicians to end the stalemate and ultimately the war with reelections looming in the near future. The Confederate strongpoint in the lines of fortification and trenches was known as Elliott’s Salient. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pleasants of the 48TH Pennsylvania who was a coal miner by trade before the war had started saw the importance of this salient and proposed the mission of mining under the salient to blow it up in order to end the stalemate. The Union Army Engineers saw the task as impossible to accomplish. Work began on June 25TH 1864 to excavate a 510 foot long shaft from the Union lines and extend under the Confederate stronghold. On July 23RD 1864 the mining was completed. The work included the 510 foot long tunnel and a branch to the left and right for a total of 200 meters wide to cover...

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