Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/67

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Magrueers Peninsula Campaign in 1862 61

up James river in 1620,* and culminating in the scenes of nearly two and a half centuries subsequent, when an invading army and a block- ading navy were pressing upon the Peninsula, seeking to capture the capital of the South, in a great war " between the States looking and leading to the forcible emancipation of all the slaves in the country ? " And there is Yorktown, where, when Lord Cornwallis surrendered, the curtain was rung down on the last scene in the last act of the great American revolution, the event of events, that then and there gave a new trend forever to the politics of the world.

That historic and histrionic Peninsula was a fitting theatre for John Bankhead Magruder. The field was full of heroic associations ; and the man himself was an impersonation of all the high qualities to make up the full figure of a veritable knight of " the lost cause" at its auroral opening, when the whole South was on the tiptoe of undoubting expectation of an early consummation in complete success.

When Magruder took command of the troops in the Peninsula he found a force meagre in numbers for the work to be done, but of as good quality as even the exceptional spirit and endurance of the South could supply. Promptly reconnoitering in every direction ; calling around him brave and trusty men to the manner born who knew their native heath as well as they loved it ; with the quick and accurate apprehension of the intuitive soldier, he was in a few days as familiar with the field in which he had been ordered to operate as if he had spent his boyhood there. Proceeding to fortify against assault, whether by land or water, or both combined, his works very soon showed that the eye of an entelligent engineer had carefully looked through the topographical surroundings and characteristics of the situation in all its length and breadth. He made his head- quarters camp at Yorktown as strong, on both land and water front, as the best engineering skill with the means he had at hand would permit. But "Prince John," as he had been called in the "old army," was too high in spirit, too restless in energy, too dashing in his passionate fondness for enterprise and emprise to wait long for the enemy to come. Halfway down the Peninsula he soon showed himself, "giving the dare "to any and every Federal commander

  • August, 1619. ED.