The History of Military Demolitions

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Since the discovery of gunpowder by the Chinese, the world as we know it has made more efficient and powerful weapons. Throughout the history of warfare from the medieval times to present day, explosives have been used as an Offensive and Defensive weapon. When a castle or army was under siege the attacking army would surround the objective and cut off all supply lines and try to starve the enemy into submission. With the invention of gunpowder it made the siege obsolete. This was empowered by the cannon and other forms of field artillery, which allowed the objective to be overthrown quickly. Military grade explosives are used for benign reasons also. Within the past few years an emphasis has been placed upon demining war torn countries that are ravaged by unclaimed and unaccounted mines emplaced by the host nation. This action is being undertaken to make the countries safer for the citizens of those countries. Throughout history stalemates have occurred during war, Engineers or Soldiers with knowledge of explosives were called upon to end the stalemate. This essay will cover one such incident during the Battle of Crater and the siege of Petersburg, Virginia during the American Civil War.

The Civil War is considered the bloodiest war in the history of the United States of America with 618,000 deaths, and numerous injuries that left many on both sides of the war maimed and handicapped. Due to the four years that the war lasted, the tolerance for war had grown very thin as time dragged on with the citizens of the United States. Many military officers and politicians were falling out of favor with the citizens, and with drastic times come drastic measures. The siege of Petersburg, Virginia had been dragging on for eig...

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...ces and Explosively Formed Penetrators. The use of these explosives has created all new hazards for the Coalition Forces conducting military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. When explosives are used as an offensive weapon they can be effective and very demoralizing. Speaking from personal experience it can cause the individual soldier to question what they are doing and therefore weaken the effectiveness of the military. From a defensive standpoint there are a multitude of uses to include falling trees to create an abatis, and cratering charges used to make a road impassable and slow the enemy down.

Works Cited

Horn, John, The Petersburg Campaign, Combined Books, INC., 1993

Corrigan, Jim, The 48TH Pennsylvania In The Battle Of The Crater, McFarland & Company, INC., Publishers, 2006

Kinard, Jeff, The Battle of the Crater, McWhiney Foundation Press, 1998

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