Trapped in trench warfare, the soldiers around Petersburg suffered the misery of living amongst the debris of battle, the unsanitary conditions in the lines, and the unrelenting exposure to the weather. Combined with this was the anxiety of living under constant mortar and rifle fire that took lives and wounded men on a daily basis.
This front provided the most intense experience of this deadly combination. The opposing lines were closer here than anywhere else in the siege as distances between the armies were measured in yards and feet. Living at point-blank range was constant high-level stress as one soldier described, "... [their] sharpshooters had a clear range of our entire front ... my regiment suffered a daily loss ..."