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    Reunion at the Crater - Inventory Number: ALB 002

    In a photograph of reconciliation taken in 1887, former Confederate general William Mahone, at bottom center with long white beard, stands amid former-Union soldiers from the 57th Massachusetts Regiment on the site where the Battle of the Crate had taken place on July 30, 1864, near Petersburg, Virginia.  That day, a massive explosion set off by Union soldiers in a tunnel beneath Confederate lines created a giant bowl-like depression in the ground.  The 57th was one of the first regiments to enter the Crater during the ensuing battle.  The attacking Union soldiers were then trapped, leaving them easy targets for Confederate soldiers.  Mahone successfully led the Confederate counterattack, and in the process captured members of the 57th Regiment,  Survivors of the regiment are shown here wearing badges on their lapels.  Mahone's actions at the Crater made him a hero of the Confederacy and he was promoted to the rank of major general within a matter of days,  When this photograph was taken in 1887, some twenty-three years after the battle, Mahone was nearing the end of his distinguished post-war political career.  The previous year Mahone had lost his seat in the United States Senate as a member of the short-lived Readjuster Party: in 1889 he ran for governor of Virginia under the banner of the Republican Party and was defeated.   Professionally framed, frame measures 15 3/4" l 17 3/4" w. 

      

    MAHONE, WILLIAM VIRGINIA.

    Colonel, Sixth Virginia Regiment Infantry, , 1861.

    Brigadier general, P. A. C. S., November 16, 1861.

    Major general, P. A. C. S. (temporary rank), June 1, 1864; declined.

    Major general, P. A. C. S., July 30,1864.

    Died at Washington, D. C., October 8, 1895.

    Commands:

    Brigade composed of the Third Alabama, the Sixth, Twelfth, Sixteenth and Forty-first Virginia, and Second (afterward the Twelfth) North Carolina Regiments Infantry, Anderson's Division, A. P. Hill's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.

    Division composed of Wright's Georgia, Weisiger's Virginia, Saunder's Alabama, Harris' Mississippi and Finegan's Florida Brigades, Army of Northern Virginia, 1864-1865.

    Major-General William Mahone was born at Monroe, Southampton county, Va., December 1, 1826.  His family in Virginia was descended from an Irish progenitor of the Colonial period.

    Both his grandfathers served in the war of 1812, and his father commanded a militia regiment during the Nat Turner insurrection.

    He was graduated at the Virginia military institute in 1847, after which he taught two years at the Rappahannock military academy.  He then entered upon a career as civil engineer in which he became distinguished, engaging in the construction of new railroads in Virginia, notably the Orange & Alexandria and Norfolk & Petersburg lines.

    Overcoming obstacles that had been pronounced insuperable in the construction of the latter line, he subsequently became president of the railroad company.  He then conceived his great project of consolidating various roads into a system from Norfolk to Bristol, Tenn., with the ultimate object of extending connections to the Mississippi and to the Pacific coast.

    But these enterprises were brought to a sudden check by the political events of 1860-61.  He promptly offered his services to Virginia, was commissioned lieutenant-colonel, and soon promoted colonel of the Sixth Virginia regiment.

    Serving first at Norfolk, he was promoted brigadier-general November 16, 1861.  After serving in the defense of Drewry's bluff, he fought his brigade in Huger's division at Seven Pines, where his men and Armistead's struck the enemy a telling blow on the second day.

    He participated in the Seven Days' battles before Richmond, and in Anderson's division of Longstreet's corps conducted his brigade into action at the battle of Second Manassas with conspicuous gallantry, receiving a severe wound which prevented his participation in the Maryland campaign, though his famous brigade was distinguished in the valorous defense of the South mountain passes.

    Returning to his command, he served through the succeeding struggles on the Rappahannock and in Pennsylvania, and during the first day's fighting in the Wilderness was entrusted with the command of his own, Wofford's, Anderson's and Davis' brigades, in an attack on the flank and rear of Grant's advance, which rolled Hancock's command back in confusion and promised to repeat the victory of Chancellorsville, when Longstreet fell, as Jackson had fallen on the former field.

    When his division commander was called to fill Longstreet's place, Mahone was given command of Anderson's division, and Longstreet added his voice to that of A. P. Hill in recommending the promotion of the dashing infantry chieftain.  As a division commander, though without the official rank, he was distinguished in a successful attack upon Hancock, May 10th, and the severe repulse and almost capture of a portion of Warren's corps on the North Anna.

    Before Petersburg he brilliantly defended the Weldon railroad, and at the time of the breaking of the Confederates lines by the explosion of a mine, July 30th, he was specially distinguished.  Moving promptly with his division to the relief of Gen. Bushrod Johnson's men, he engaged in repeated desperate charges, which finally resulted in the utter repulse and terrible slaughter of the enemy.

    Here the tardy promotion arrived, he being promoted major-general on the field by General Lee, which was promptly confirmed by the President and Congress.  Of Mahone's part in the battle of the Crater, Col. W. H. Stuart, of the Sixty-first Virginia, has said: "The whole movement was under his immediate and personal direction, and to him, above all, save the brave men who bore the muskets, belong the honor and credit of recapturing the Confederate lines."

    To the last he held his men together in a remarkably spirited and unified organization, which was inspired with a strong esprit du corps, and distinguished for readiness to take ail chances in either defense or assault.

    He surrendered at Appomattox, and returned to the railroad management from which he had been called four years before.  Becoming president of the two lines extending from Petersburg to Bristol, Tenn., he consolidated the three companies into the Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio railroad company, which he managed until the financial crisis of 1873, when a foreign combination gained control and the system became known later as the Norfolk & Western.

    Though defeated in this great enterprise he managed that upon the sale of the lines $500,000 was paid to the State of Virginia for her claim, the whole amount of which he subsequently caused to be appropriated for educational purposes.

    Before the close of the war General Mahone had served in the Virginia senate in addition to his duties in the field, and during the reconstruction period he exerted a very powerful influence toward the comparatively peaceful restoration of home rule which was brought about in his State.

    In 1878 he was defeated in a contest for the Democratic nomination for governor.  In 1879, under his leadership, the "Readjuster" party was formed in Virginia, which for a time controlled the State, and General Mahone was elected to the United States Senate, where he soon became identified with the Republican party, which through his efforts carried the State elections in 1881.

    He led Virginia delegations to the Republican national conventions of 1884 and 1888, and in 1889 was nominated for governor by his party, but defeated.  He continued to retain political leadership, and in his later years made his home at Washington, where he died October 8, 1895.

    The Battle of the Crater:

    The Battle of the Crater was a battle of the American Civil War, part of the Siege of Petersburg. It took place on July 30, 1864, between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade (under the direct supervision of the general-in-chief, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant).

    After weeks of preparation, on July 30, Union forces exploded a mine in Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's IX Corps sector, blowing a gap in the Confederate defenses of Petersburg, Virginia. From this propitious beginning, everything deteriorated rapidly for the Union attackers. Unit after unit charged into and around the crater, where soldiers milled in confusion. Grant considered the assault "the saddest affair I have witnessed in this war." The Confederates quickly recovered and launched several counterattacks led by Brig. Gen. William Mahone. The breach was sealed off, and Union forces were repulsed with severe casualties. Brig. Gen. Edward Ferrero's division of black soldiers were badly mauled. This may have been Grant's best chance to end the Siege of Petersburg. Instead, the soldiers settled in for another eight months of trench warfare. Burnside was relieved of command for the last time for his role in the debacle, and he was never again returned to command.

    The Battle of Crater

    The Battle of the Crater was a battle of the American Civil War, part of the Siege of Petersburg. It took place on July 30, 1864, between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade (under the direct supervision of the general-in-chief, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant).

    After weeks of preparation, on July 30, Union forces exploded a mine in Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's IX Corps sector, blowing a gap in the Confederate defenses of Petersburg, Virginia. From this propitious beginning, everything deteriorated rapidly for the Union attackers. Unit after unit charged into and around the crater, where soldiers milled in confusion. Grant considered the assault "the saddest affair I have witnessed in this war." The Confederates quickly recovered and launched several counterattacks led by Brig. Gen. William Mahone. The breach was sealed off, and Union forces were repulsed with severe casualties. Brig. Gen. Edward Ferrero's division of black soldiers were badly mauled. This may have been Grant's best chance to end the Siege of Petersburg. Instead, the soldiers settled in for another eight months of trench warfare. Burnside was relieved of command for the last time for his role in the debacle, and he was never again returned to command.


    FIFTY-SEVENTH REGIMENT MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY THREE YEARS

    The 57 Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf., the Second Veteran Regiment, was raised under the  same circumstances and conditions as the 56th.  A majority of its members must have had at least nine months service in some other unit.  It was recruited at Camp Wool, Worcester, Mass., in the fall and winter of 1863, and William Francis Bartlett, had who been a captain in the 20th Regiment and colonel of the 49th, and had been twice severely wounded in action, was commissioned colonel.

    The recruits came largely from the western part of the State, and the companies were mustered in on various dates between Dec., 1863, and Mar., 1864.  On April 18, 1864, the regiment started for the seat of war, arriving at Annapolis, Md., two days later.  Here it became a part of Carruth's (1st) Brigade, Stevenson's (1st) Division, Burnside's (9th) Corps.

    On April 23 the 9th Corps started for Washington, Carruth's Brigade being with the advance.  Arriving the afternoon of the 25th, it was reviewed by the President and  General Burnside, crossed the Potomac, and encamped near Arlington.

    On the 27th the corps started for the Rappahannock River, following the line of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.  The 57th arrived at Rappahannock Station May 3, and on the following day crossed the river and marched for Germanna Ford on the Rapidan.  Crossing at this point on the morning of May 5, the corps remained in bivouac until the morning of the 6th, the ears of the men being deafened with the continuous roar of the battle which was already in progress.

    On the morning of the 6th Stevenson's Division was sent to the support of Hancock's (2d) Corps on the Plank road, and in the severe contest which followed the 57th lost 47 killed, 161 wounded, and 43 missing.  Among the killed were Captain Gird and Lieutenant Childs, and among the wounded was Colonel Bartlett, who was soon after promoted to brigadier general and never returned to the command of the regiment.

    Under Lieut. Colonel Chandler the 57th joined in the dank movement to  pottsylvania.  Here on the 12th it was engaged not far from Spottsylvania C. H., losing  13 killed, 55 wounded, and four missing.  In the assault on the 18th it suffered a further loss of three killed and 14 wounded.  Moving with the army to the North Anna River, the 57th crossed near Quarles' Mill, then advanced down the river in an attempt to clear the crossing at Ox Ford.  Here it was outflanked and driven back with a loss of 10 killed, 13 wounded, and 14 missing, among the killed being Lieut. Colonel Chandler.  Captain Tucker now took command of the regiment.

    In the operations near Cold Harbor the 9th Corps was on the extreme right near Bethesda Church and was not heavily engaged, its loss being slight.  It remained on the lines near Cold Harbor until the 13th of June, when it withdrew toward the James.  This river was crossed June 15, and on the evening of the 17th the 1st Division made an assault on the lines east of Petersburg in which the 57th lost 11 killed, 30 wounded, and three missing, among the wounded being Captain Tucker.  For some time after this assault Captain Prescott commanded the regiment.

    During the last two weeks of June and through the month of July the 57th did duty in the trenches, losing during that time Lieutenant Cheney and five men killed, and 23 officers and men wounded, Lieutenant Bowman mortally.  Belonging now, through change in commanders, to Bartlett's Brigade, Ledlie's Division, the 57th was one of the first regiments to enter the "Crater", near Petersburg, on the morning of July 30, 1864.  

    The regiment at this time was a mere skeleton, mustering less than 100 officers and men.  Here General Bartlett, the brigade commander, was taken prisoner, Major Prescott and Captains Howe and Dresser of the 57th and one enlisted man were killed, 16 officers and men were wounded, 28 were missing, and the colors were lost.  Only Lieutenant Doty and 46 men were left of this veteran regiment.

    From this time until the 18th of August the command was on duty in the trenches, losing one killed, and four wounded by sharpshooters.  At the Weldon Railroad, Aug. 19, the 57th lost a third of its numbers.  Lieutenant Doty and 29 men were now all that were left of the regiment.  Convalescents and men on detached duty returned during September, so that at Poplar Grove Church, Sept. 30, the 57th carried into action about 60 men.  Here it lost one killed, seven wounded, and one prisoner.  

    On the 8th of October the regiment was again engaged near Poplar Grove Church, losing two killed and 12 wounded.

    During the remainder of the fall and the succeeding winter and early spring the 57th was occupied in trench duty with few casualties.  While so occupied the numbers of the regiment were increased by recruits, returned convalescents, etc., until in the latter part of March, 1865, it numbered 11 officers and 206 enlisted men.  This was the number engaged March 25, 1865, at the battle of Fort Stedman.  Here just before daylight a heavy Confederate force under Gen. John B. Gordon captured and for a time held the fort.  The 57th was at this time posted just in the rear and a little to the right of the fort, and being attacked in force it was driven back for some distance.  Later it joined in the counter attack in which the fort was retaken.  In this action the regiment lost Lieutenant Murdock and five men killed, Major Doherty and 25 officers and men wounded, and 50 missing. Major Doherty died of his wounds next day.  This was the last severe engagement of the regiment.

    In the general assault on the Confederate lines April 2, the 57th was not engaged.  On the morning of April 3, when definite news came of the evacuation of Petersburg, the  57th was one of the first regiments to enter the abandoned city.  It was now assigned to guard the Southside Railroad, and it had proceeded as far as Wilson's Station when the news of Lee's surrender came and five days later that of the assassination of President Lincoln.

    The 9th Corps was now ordered to Washington and encamped for a time near Tennallytown.  There on June 20 it received the remnant of the 59th Regiment the order for the consolidation to be effective as of June 1, the 57th retaining its regimental designation.  The combined organizations were mustered out July 30, 1865, and at once set out for Massachusetts.  After a few days of rest at Readville, on the 9th of August the members of the regiment were paid off and discharged. 


    Inventory Number: ALB 002