A wonderful badge worn by a survivor of Mahone's Brigade at the 1903 reunion held in Petersburg, Virginia.† This really great badge has a red ribbon with a pin for†a hanger.† The hanger is attached to a large celluloid pin back button.† The button is approximately 2 inches wide.† Written on the celluloid drop is "Mahone's Brigade Reunion of the Survivors of the Charge of the Crater - Petersburg, VA. - November 6th, 1903".† The writing is surrounded by a Confederate battle flag and a gold colored division between the writing and the battle flag.† On the back of the drop is a Confederate battle flag.† Written around the flag is "Battle of the Crater - July 30, 1864".† The badge was made by the Whitehead & Hoag Company of Newark, New Jersey as noted by the manufactures label attached to the back of the hanger.
The Battle of the Crater
Two weeks after Union forces arrived to invest the Confederate defenders of Petersburg, the battle lines of both sides had settled into a stalemate. Since Cold Harbor, Lieut. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was reluctant to mount a frontal attack against well-entrenched Confederates. By late June, Grant's lines covered most of the eastern approaches to Petersburg, but neither side seemed ready to risk an offensive move. Part of the Union line was held by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's Ninth Corps. Some of Burnside's men were Pennsylvania miners, and they approached Burnside with a plan.† They would tunnel underground from behind Union lines to a point underneath a Confederate position and fill the mine with explosives. When detonated, the resulting explosion would destroy a portion of the Rebel lines that could be exploited by infantry. Grant demurred but the digging began. On July 30th, after weeks of preparation, the Federals exploded the mine beneath a Confederate salient, blowing a gap in the defenses. At that point, everything deteriorated rapidly for the Union attackers. Unit after unit, most of whom were U. S. Colored Troops, charged into and around the crater, where most of them milled in confusion in the bottom of the crater. The Confederates quickly recovered and launched several counterattacks led by Maj. Gen. William Mahone. The break was sealed off, and the Federals were repulsed with severe casualties. Most of the black soldiers were badly mauled. Instead of ending the siege, both sides settled in for eight months of trench warfare. Burnside was relieved of command for his role in the debacle.