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The Horrid Pit: The Battle of the Crater, the Civil War's Cruelest Mission
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The Horrid Pit: The Battle of the Crater, the Civil War's Cruelest Mission

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  25 ratings  ·  7 reviews
The story of one of the most violent yet least-known episodes of the Civil War — the daring excavation of the longest military tunnel in history.
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 20th 2007 by Basic Books (first published July 19th 2007)
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Damon Lively
This is another focused part of the Civil War (in this case Petersburg) that might be geared more towards developed interest or “buff’s” to a degree. The story is intriguing and well worth reading – as this a part of history less told compared to others during the war. You can almost see it being a movie (actually the start of cold mountain gave some insight – but then a terrible movie commenced – I digress). The idea, engineering, risks involved, tragic execution – it has all the components. Th ...more
At the seige of Petersburg the Union had a chance to end the war one year earlier than it actualy ended according to author Alan Alexrod. This could of been accomplished by blowing a mine under a part of the Confederate line and this would have enabled the Union troops to pour in and route the defenders. Although only 2/3rds of the powder needed was used, the mine worked and blew a gap in the lines. The troops were poised to flood in. BUT there was one problem, the general, Lindle, who was to se ...more

The Horrid Pit covers the story of the Battle of the Crater and one of the most interesting failures of the Union Army in the history of the Civil War. The idea was conceived by a group of Pennsylvanian Coal Miners who proposed a plan of building a mine underneath the defensive works of Petersburg and blowing up the area underneath creating a path for the Union forces to go through. General Burnside who was desperate to avoid a long siege took the plan to his superiors who not so much blessed it
Alex Yepiz
As a graduate student, I recently wrote a research paper on this battle. Axelrod’s book is a good start to the topic. He is very detailed, yet not too analytical. More importantly, he’s very clear on how he feels about the characters involved. The most fun thing about reading this book is how Axelrod is so blunt about the stupidity of the leaders that caused this military blunder.

The gist of the book details how such a great opportunity to win Petersburg, and in all the war, was a result of poor
I think the subject was well researched and the book well written. I don't recall that the battle was mentioned in the history classes I took. I read the book because my great-great grandfather was killed there. If things had gone according to Burnside's original plan, it might have been the last battle of the Civil War - 8 months and thousands of casualties earlier than April 1865.
The book focuses on the Civil War. I usually like these history time of books, but parts of this I felt were a little over my head. There were some good historical quotes in it, and overall I thought the 2nd half of this book got a bit better, as this botched plan by the Union came to fruition and you saw the effect it had.
Andy Anderson
The battle of the crater was a tragedy. Good history on the battle.
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