150th anniversary of the 20th Michigan in the Battle of the Crater

By June 12, 1864 the Confederates stopped the Union forces outside of Petersburg, Virginia. The Union ceased assaulting Petersburg and switched to a siege.

In an attempt to break into Petersburg, IXth Corps Union troops with coal mining experience dug a tunnel  to place a mine under Confederate fortifications just east of Petersburg.

One hundred fifty years ago on July 30, 1864 the mine was exploded and Union troops assaulted Confederate positions. Among them was our Civil War ancestor Anson Croman in the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment.

20th Michigan’s position (ORANGE CIRCLE) and direction of the attack to the west of the crater from the mine explosion.

Fair use of image from The Battle Atlas of the Civil War © Time-Life Books

Contemporary drawing of the Union assault on The Crater. The 20th Michigan is to the left out of this picture.

Image in the public domain.

The Confederates held and quickly closed the gap created by the explosion and assault.

The 20th Michigan lost 5 killed, 26 wounded, 16 captured, and 2 missing.

The opening scenes of the novel and movie Cold Mountain depict the Battle of the Crater

Racial War

During the Battle of the Crater when African-American Union troops attempted to surrender, the Confederates summarily executed some on the field.

The Confederates considered African-American Union troops to be racially inferior escaped slaves engaged in a slave insurrection and therefore not entitled to be treated as prisoners of war.

Those who were not executed would be sold into slavery.

The Confederates also threatened to try and execute any captured European-American officers who commanded African-American troops. The Confederates claimed those officers were inciting slave rebellion. The Confederates decided not to proceed with trials when the Union threaten retaliation against Southern POW officers.

For more information:

From the National Park Service:

The Crater

From Anson Croman and the Civil War:


The Musbachs and Robinsons are direct line descendants of Anson Croman and he is my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.

Anson Croman served in the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment from his 1862 enlistment until the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865.

If Anson Croman wrote letters home, none have survived. Therefore the best way to preserve the story of his service is by sharing the history of his regiment




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2 Responses to “150th anniversary of the 20th Michigan in the Battle of the Crater”

  1. bob623 Says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. Really appreciate it. Always looking for more information regarding the Musbach family history in Michigan.

  2. Leonard H. Cizewski Says:

    Reblogged this on Anson Croman and the American Civil War.

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