Posts Tagged ‘Peninsula Campaign’

Eastern State Hospital W-40-b

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012


Eastern State Hospital is the oldest psychiatric hospital in the United States. It was established on 12 Oct. 1773, when Virginia was still a British colony, with the mission of treating and discharging the curable mentally ill. In 1841, under the leadership of John Minson Galt, the hospital initiated new reforms characterized as “moral management,” a self-directed form of rehabilitation that changed the social perception and treatment of mental illness in America. Beginning in 1935 and ending on 28 Jan. 1970, the entire institution gradually moved to Dunbar Farm.

Further Research

Eastern State Hospital

The eighteenth century in Europe brought upon great cultural change through the Enlightenment movement. Also known as the age of reason, people began to reject popular negative connotations regarding the mentally ill. Instead of deeming them fools, the mentally ill were seen as people with a disease of the mind. Royal Governor of Virginia, Francis Fauquier acknowledged these newfound sympathies while addressing the House of Burgesses of Williamsburg on November 6th of 1766; “a legal Confinement, and proper Provision, ought to be appointed for these miserable Objects, who cannot help themselves.” Fauquier’s idea directly led to the foundation of the Eastern State Hospital in 1773, but the Royal Governor did not live to see the patients institutionalized, as he died in 1768.

Eastern State Hospital

James Galt, the previous keeper of the Williamsburg Public Gaol, was the first administrator of the hospital and his wife was the hospital’s matron. During this time period conditions in the hospital were horrendous as the patients were only provided a straw mattress and chamber pot, in their small cells. It wasn’t until 1841 when Dr. John Minson Galt II became the superintendent, which conditions improved. In 1845, patient’s rooms resembled small apartments as opposed to the previous small cells. Dr. Galt also provided social activities for his patients in the form of lectures, concerts, visits into town, and carriage rides. In addition to these, Dr. Galt also created a patient library, shoemaking shop, game room, sewing room, and carpentry shop.

During the Civil War, Union General George McClellan’s massive Peninsular Campaign overwhelmed the Williamsburg area, and the Eastern Lunatic Asylum was captured by Union troops on May 6th of 1862. This marked a period of transition for the hospital, as Dr. Galt’s improvisations were largely forgotten. On June 7th of 1885, a fire destroyed the original 1773 hospital building.

Eastern Lunatic Asylum

In 1894 the Eastern Lunatic Asylum’s name changed to Eastern State Hospital. Due to the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg around 1937, the hospital moved to the Dunbar Farm where it remains functioning today.




Further Reading

Jones, Granville Lillard. The History of the Founding of the Eastern State Hospital of Virginia. Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1954.

Drewry, William Francis, Richard Dewey, Charles Winfield Pilgrim, George Adler Blumer, American Medico-Psychological Association. Committee on a History of the Institutional Care of the Insane, and Thomas Joseph Workmann Burgess. The Institutional Care of the Insane in the United States and Canada. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1916.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Eastern State Hopsital W-40b,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Eastern State Hospital,” Eastern State Hospital, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Eastern State Hospital,” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Eastern State Asylum,” Colonial Williamsburg Digital Library, (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources link not available


Magruder’s Defenses W-44

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012


Here is a redoubt in the line of the Confederate defenses, built across the James-York Peninsula in 1861-62 by General John B. Magruder.

Further Research:

John B. Magruder, Confederate General born in Port Royal, Virginia known for his military expertise in delaying federal troops during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862.

Major General John B. Magruder, or “Prince John,” was a military officer who served in the American Civil War. General Magruder was assigned to the artillery but resigned from the U.S. Army when Virginia seceded the Union.  After he resigned, he was commissioned as a colonel in the Confederate army and rose quickly through the ranks to Major General.  His most important role during the war took place during and against Major General George B. McClellan’s Peninsula campaign in 1862 (Eicher).

At the Battle of Yorktown, Magruder was able to successfully deceive McClellan in regards to his strength – he made McClellan believe that he [Magruder] was actually stronger than he was.  In order to do so, he did things such as give illusions of larger troops, move his artillery frequently and use tons of ammunition whenever Union troops were in sight.  Furthermore, Magruder had prepared three defensive lines across the Peninsula.  The first was about twelve miles north of Fort Monroe and contained infantry outposts and artillery redoubts, and though it was insufficiently manned, its sole purpose was to deceive the Union forces about the second line of defense.

Plan of the Battle of Yorktown

The second line of defense stretched from Yorktown to Mulberry Island and was called the Warwick Line.  It consisted of more redoubts, rifle pits and strong fortifications by the river.  He built dams in order to pose a strong obstacle for the Union forces.  Finally, the third line was the use of a series of forts in Williamsburg, which were left unmanned so that the army could fall back on it if they had to from Yorktown (Sears, 70). His actions successfully delayed McClellan for weeks and earned him an enlightened seat in General Johnston’s eyes.  General McClellan was convinced that Magruder was stronger than he was and thus held back while general Johnston was able to bring in serious reinforcements for Magruder – though he still was unable to gain enough to defend his lines. However, it was not long before he fell from favor because he was not aggressive enough in battle and his drunkenness proved to be a problem.  He immediately was blacklisted in the eyes of Robert E. Lee, and reassigned elsewhere (Cutrer).

Battle of Yorktown

Further Reading

Cadorph, Paul D. Prince John Magruder: His Life and Campaigns. New York: John Wiley & sons, 1996.

Cutrer, Thomas W. Magruder, John Bankhead. Handbook of Texas Online. (accessed March 10, 2012).

Eicher, John H. and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. New York: Stanford University Press, 2001.

Latimer, Jon. Deception in War. London: John Murray, 2001.

Sears, Stephen W. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.

Settles, Thomas M. John Bankhead Magruder: A Military Reappraisal. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009.

Warner, Erza J. Generals in Gray. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959.

Photo Credits

“John B. Magruder,” National Park Service, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Plan of the Battle of Yorktown,” U.S. History Images: Battle of Yorktown, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Battle of Yorktown,” U.S. History Images: Battle of Yorktown, (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources– This marker has since been removed due to construction.

Battle of Williamsburg W-43

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012


To the east of the road here, centering at Fort Magruder, was fought the battle of Williamsburg on May 5, 1862. The Union General McClellan was pursuing General Johnston’s retiring army. The rearguard of which was commanded by General Longstreet. Johnston ordered Longstreet to hold off McClellan’s attacking forces until the confederate wagon trains, bogged down in mud, were out of danger. This mission was accomplished and Johnston continued his retirement.

Further Research

The Battle of Williamsburg Map

The Battle of Williamsburg, also known as the Battle of Fort Magruder, was one of the largest battlefield encounters between Union and Confederate forces during McClellan’s famous Peninsula Campaign.  After having been delayed for around a month at the Yorktown defenses, General McClellan moved his troops in hot pursuit of Johnston and his fellow Confederate soldiers, who had started to retreat for more defensible positions closer to Richmond (Rickard).  At Williamsburg, Confederate soldiers aimed to hold up parts of the defense line simply to hinder the Union forces advancement into Richmond.

The Battle of Williamsburg

Confederate forces had positioned themselves in front of For Magruder, which served as their key point during the battle.  Because of muddy conditions, the Confederate retreat was hindered and thus James Longstreet had to hold the line at Williamsburg while fellow forces moved towards Etham’s landing.  General Sumner and General William F. Smith launched the first assault on Confederate lines on May 4th; but this had to be abandoned because of the woodland between the two forces that hindered them.  The next day, however, General Hooker started the battle facing Fort Magruder, which continued most of the day (civalwar).  The fighting was tremendous and eventually General Winfield S. Hancock was able to push back the Confederate forces with heavy losses.

Battle of Williamsburg--Gen. Hancock's charge, May 5, 1862

McClellan decided that Hancock’s actions were “brilliant” and that this battle was a superior victory for the Union forces – while this fact may be slightly skewed.  Both sides had gained something from this battle in that the Union perceived it as having pushed the Confederates from a defensive line with seriously outnumbered odds.  The Confederates saw the battle as a success because it was seen that General Longstreet had successfully held off Union attack and allowed for the Confederates to withdraw with precious supplies (Rickard).

Further Reading

Civil War Trust. The Battle of Willamsburg. (accessed March 9, 2012)

Rickard, J. Battle of Williamsburg, 5 May 1862. (accessed March 9, 2012)

Salmon, John S. The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 2001.

Sears, Stephen W. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Battle of Williamsburg W-43,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Battle of Williamsburg Map,” Civil War Trust: Maps of Williamsburg, Virginia, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“The Battle of Williamsburg,” Library of Congress, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Battle of Williamsburg- Gen. Hancock’s Charge,” Library of Congress, www.loc.goc (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

Peninsula Campaign W-37

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012


During the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, both Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan led their armies west toward Richmond on this road. Johnston evacuated Yorktown on 3-4 May and withdrew up the Peninsula, with McClellan in pursuit. On 5 May, two Federal divisions clashed with the Confederate rear guard east of Williamsburg in a bloody but indecisive battle. Johnston’s army continued its march west and on 6-7 May eluded McClellan’s forces at Eltham’s Landing on the York River opposite West Point. By mid-month the Confederates were secure behind the Richmond defenses.

Further Research

Major General George Brinton McClellan, often called “Little Mac” or “Young Napoleon”

The Peninsula Campaign took place during the American Civil War as a major Union operation in southeastern Virginia from March 1862 through July 1862.  The first large-scale offensive, the campaign was head by Major General George B. McClellan and was an attempt to capture Richmond.  While at first successful against Joseph E. Johnston, Robert E. Lee soon emerged and the campaign turned into an Union defeat.

McClellan’s Army of the Potomac consisted of 50,000 men in the beginning but quickly grew to 121,000 before the campaign took place (Sears 361). The amphibious campaign started in Alexandria on March 17 (Sears, 168).  In response to McClellan’s campaign, Magruder set up deceptive defenses, which were actually weaker

Joseph E. Johnston

than they appeared.  In response, McClellan began the siege preparations at Yorktown with a variety of heavy artillery (Sears, 58).  It continued to be a constant battle of the Confederates improving their defenses and McClellan increasing his artillery.  In early May, McClellan found out that the Confederate defenses were deceiving and thus McClellan began to pursue Johnston up the York River (Salmon, 80).

The Peninsula Campaign also included the Battle of Williamsburg, which occurred on May 5, 1862.  This was the first battle of the Peninsula Campaign, which was spearheaded by Major General George B. McClellan. This battle was the result of General Joseph E. Johnston’s shocking evacuation of the Yorktown-Warwick River line just two days prior (Salmon, 80).  As a result of Johnston’s evacuation, McClellan hastily pursued him.  McClellan sent Brig. General George Stoneman to pursue Johnston’s rear guard, which was headed by Brig. General J.E.B. Stuart’s Calvary and with whom his men skirmished many times.  Furthermore, McClellan had ordered Brig. General William B. Franklin to sail up the York River to cut Johnston off and thus prevent him from escaping.  Weary because of foul weather, Johnston decided to wall up his troops at Fort Magruder.  While McClellan considered this battle as an amazing victory, many southerners saw it as allowing the Confederate army to escape towards Richmond (Sears, 82).

The Peninsula Campaign

The campaign continued to Etham’s Landing where McClellan hoped that Franklin would hinder Johnston’s escape.  However, it turned out that the Confederates were prepared and Union troops were forced to seek cover in the woods.  Franklin could not intercept the Confederates and thus allowed them to pass (Salmon, 85).  The next event to mark

Map of Peninsula Campaign

the Peninsula Campaign occurred at the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff.  This amphibious battle resulted in the stagnation of the Union advance and took place on May 15, 1862 at Fort Drewry (Sears, 94).  The armies converged in Richmond but the next major battle did not take place until May 27.  Also known as the Battle of Slash Church, the Battle of Hanover Court House resulted in a small Union victory but allowed for McClellan to be more prepared at Seven Pines or Fair Oaks.  Furthermore, McClellan’s reactions made him look like a weak target to Johnston (Sears, 117).  The final battle occurred at Seven Pines on May 31 and June 1.  It was the end effect of the offensive by McClellan when he finally reached the outskirts of Richmond.  This battle is considered the biggest battle of the time with both sides attempting to claim victory.  Union soldiers called it the Battle of Fair Oaks because that’s where they were most successful whereas Confederates fought best at Seven Pines, hence the name (Sears, 149).  However it was not long before Robert E. Lee drove McClellan from the Peninsula and it took around three more years before the Union army finally captured Richmond.

Further Reading

Eicher, David J. The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Miller, William J. The Battles for Richmond, 1862. National Park Service Civil War Series. Fort Washington: U.S. National Park Service and Eastern National, 1996.

Salmon, John S. The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 2001.

Sears, Stephen W. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.

Warner, Erza J. Generals In Blue: Lives of Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Peninsula Campaign W-37,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Major General George Brinton McClellan,” Civil War Trust: The Peninsula Campaign, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Joseph E. Johnston,” Civil War Trust: The Peninsula Campaign, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“The Peninsula Campaign,” Lee Hall Mansion: 1862 Peninsula Campaign, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Map of Peninsula Campaign,” Civil War Trust: Maps of the Peninsular Campaign 1862, (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources