On April 1, 1965, Richard Clow describes a part of one of the charges on probably Fort Mahone, often described as one of the strongest built forts on the Confederate line around Petersburg.
“We could hear each charge they made. The rebs would run with a kind of yelp like so many hounds and our boys would would rush on cheer and shout which could be heard for many miles around.”
A part of the charge would have been over open ground. But once the charge got close to the fort, they faced walls of abatis and fraises which consisted of sharpened brush and stakes respectively, in front of mud filled steep walled ditches.
The picture above only show a small portion of a defensive pattern outside a fort. Here you can see an approximation of the shape of Union Fort Steadman with those walls and trenches with cannon peeking out. A formidable obstacle.
The men looking out over the cannons had a different view. Their flanks had obstakles over which the enemy had to climb or skirt, and their cannons peered right through various portals in the for to strafe the enemy as they came forward. In seeing these on the battlefield of Petersburg, you realize why the battles became blood baths.
It is small wonder that Richard Clow in a later letter note that, “The streams flowed red…”
How do attack such defenses without loosing 1000 or 5000 men?