Pleasants earned his place in history during the seige of Petersburg in 1864 when he masterminded and oversaw a plan to dig a mine shaft from the Union line to the Confederate, fill an underground chamber with gunpowder, and detonate the charge, blowing a large crater in the Confederate lines. The plan was for a follow-up assault to break through the city's defenses by charging into the breach. Though the crater was successfully detonated, the follow-up assault was repulsed, and the Rebel lines, unfortunately, held.
Henry Pleasants in The Guns of the SouthEdit
When the time-travelling Afrikaner Weerstandbeweging provided the Confederacy with a number of AK-47s, the tide unexpectedly turned in the South's favor. Henry Pleasants, who by this time commanded the 48th as a Lt. Colonel, was captured by Confederate forces after the Battle of Bealeton. He was sent to Andersonville and remained a prisoner until an armistice was reached.
On the train trip North with other former POWs, Pleasants elected to stretch his legs while the train stopped in the town of Rocky Mount, Nash County, North Carolina, for refueling. He happened to meet Nate Caudell who was heading South after being demobilized from the Army of Northern Virginia. The two struck up a conversation and a friendship over several drinks. This caused Pleasants to miss his train. Caudell convinced him to remain in the Confederacy, and Pleasants obtained employment with the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad.
His employment was terminated in the fall of 1865 for being too soft on the black slaves under his direction. As he told Caudell when he came back north to Nash County, he treated them as men and they in turn "strutted" and became "uppity". His intentions were to buy a farm in the area with his savings and run it with "free" or non-slave labor. This he did successfully, hiring several freeman blacks and several white laborers.
In March 1868, the time-travelers turned on the Confederate government and attempted to assassinate President-elect Robert E. Lee. President Lee suspended habeas corpus and put Nash County under martial law (which contained the town of Rivington) and four surrounding counties in North Carolina under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest. As part of this, he recalled Company D of the 47th North Carolina Infantry Regiment to service. Although Pleasants had originally served the North, he managed to convince the company commander (Capt. George Lewis) and fellow soldiers to allow him to enlist as a private.
When "D" Company faced a seemingly impenetrable defensive position, Pleasants overheard a fellow soldier jokingly suggest going under the Afrikaner men's fortified position. This led him to conceive a scheme of building a tunnel and setting off a massive charge of gunpowder under it. Forrest, Pleasants' commanding general, accepted and implemented the plan promoting Pleasants to Lt. Colonel and placing him on his staff to oversee the project. It was successful, breaking the time-travelers' siege.
On being informed of Pleasants' promotion in a dispatch, President Lee discovered, in the book The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War, Pleasants' OTL role in the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg. Fearing that the Rivington Men would be reminded of this as well, if their spies learned Pleasants was fighting for Lee, and that they would accordingly prepare for an underground attack, Lee censored Pleasants's name from CSA Army communiqués.
After the successful completion of the campaign against the Rivington men, Pleasants resumed farming in Nash county. He was Caudell's best man at his wedding to Mollie Bean. This office he performed in a Confederate colonel's uniform, although he did threaten to cause a scandal by appearing in Federalist blue to which he was also entitled to wear.