Resident to participate in battle anniversary

Published 1:08 pm Saturday, July 21, 2018

When the 154th anniversary of the Battle of the Crater is being observed — even celebrated — there will be a unique local connection to the event. This afternoon, July 21, at 2 p.m., Earl Blythe from Franklin will be a guest speaker. Then, he’ll speak on a matter close to his heart and family: William Mahone, who reportedly had a prominent role during the Siege of Petersburg in 1864-65.

“I’m a 10th cousin on his mother’s side, and my daughter, grandson and granddaughter will be attending along with Bob Holt, who is also a 10th cousin, so there will be at least another five relatives in attendance,” said Blythe. “I’m planning on recognizing all the VMI graduates in attendance since William Mahone was a graduate of the VMI Class of 1847.”

He is expecting that Mahone’s great-great-granddaughter will also attend the event at the  Petersburg National Battlefield.

According to information posted on the Mahone’s Tavern and Museum, which is located in Courtland, the officer is considered “the Hero of the Battle of the Crater,” which took place on July 30, 1864. What was initially a Union army way to invade and triumph over the Confederate forces blew up in their faces. The explosion the North set off in a tunnel under the South did wound and kill. Mahone is credited with rallying nearby Confederate forces, and drove off the attack. For his part, the officer was promoted to a major general.


Anne Blumenschine, a spokesman for the park, offered this schedule of free programs to include speakers, historical displays, guided walks and military demonstrations.

Events will be taking place in different areas of the Eastern Front Unit. The schedule is as follows:

Saturday, July 28

Location: Visitor Center

9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Displays: Textiles and Spinning; Shortages and Substitutions

11 a.m., 3:30 p.m. Lecture: When War Comes to Your Home by Bonnie Johnson

2 p.m. Lecture: The Life of William Mahone by Earl Blythe

Location: Tour Stop 7

10 a.m., 2 p.m. Battle of the Crater Extended Walking Tour (approximately 2 hours)

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. General Grant (Living Historian Ken Serfass) discusses the Crater Battle

Location: Tour Stop 8

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Artillery and Infantry Demonstrations

Sunday, July 29

Tour Stop 8

Noon to 3 p.m. Artillery Demonstrations

For more information about events at Petersburg National Battlefield, call 804-732-3531. The site is at 1539 Hickory Hill Road, Petersburg. You can also become a fan on our Facebook page or follow on Twitter @PetersburgNPS.