Back of Lee Hall Mansion
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John Bankhead Magruder (1809 – 1871)
Magruder attended the University of Virginia for two years before receiving an appointment to West Point. Graduating 15th in the class of 1830, Magruder fought in the Second Seminole War and the Mexican War. In the latter conflict, Captain Magruder commanded Battery I, 1st U.S. Artillery and received two brevets for gallantry. Magruder was dubbed "Prince John" for wearing lavish, full-dress uniforms and hosting elaborate parties.
When Virginia seceded from the Union, Magruder resigned his commission on April 20, 1861, and subsequently was appointed a colonel in the Confederate Army. Assigned to defend Yorktown and the lower Peninsula, he supervised the construction of three defensive lines. In addition, Magruder won the June 10, 1861 Battle of Big Bethel and was accordingly praised as "the frank, manly representative of the chivalry of the dear Old Dominion." Due to this victory, he was promoted to brigadier general on June 17 and major general on October 7, 1861. In April 1862, Magruder directed the defense of the Warwick-Yorktown Line from Lee Hall and halted the powerful Union advance against Richmond. Once General Joseph E. Johnston arrived with more reinforcements, Magruder was outranked and relegated to a division commander.
After the Confederate retreat from Yorktown on May 3, 1862, Magruder fought in the Seven Days Campaign, and his dismal performance at Savage Station and Malvern Hill led to questions of incompetence. Thereafter, Magruder commanded the Department of Texas where he served for the remainder of the war. Refusing a Federal parole, Magruder moved to Mexico and fought for Emperor Maximilian. Afterwards, Magruder settled in Galveston, Texas and lectured about his wartime experiences until his death.