their inclination, and was himself always ready to participate in the amusements of his subalterns.
It was soon evident that the instruction received at West Point
, supplemented by that obtained at the Leavenworth and Old Point
schools, had raised the United States artillery to a state of efficiency unsurpassed by that of any other nation, as was subsequently demonstrated on many a hard-fight field.
The Leavenworth school
continued under the control of Colonel Magruder
until it was disintegrated by the violent political excitement that preceded the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln
At the first note of civil war, which soon followed that event, Colonel Magruder
resigned his commission in the United States Army and repaired to his native State, and was seen among the first who offered their services for the defence of Virginia
, and soon after he was entrusted with the defence of Yorktown and the peninsula embraced by York river
and the James
, with the rank of Brigadier-General
In his new field of operation Magruder
displayed great energy and ability in strengthening his position and disciplining his troops.
His force, though necessarily small at this early stage of the war, under his masterly hand rose with such rapidity in efficiency that on the 8th of June he was able to encounter and defeat the enemy at Big Bethel in greatly superior numbers.
This was the first conflict of arms since the fall of Fort Sumter
, and although small in point of numbers, its moral effect was considerable by inspiring the Confederates
with confidence, while it had a depressing influence upon the Federals
After this affair the Federals
made no other demonstration on the Peninsula
until the ensuing spring; during which period Magruder
applied himself with skill and industry to the completion of the defences of his position.
He first occupied himself in securing the command of York river
by the erection of strong batteries at Yorktown
and Gloucester Point
, where the river is less than a mile wide; then completed his land defences to the Warwick
, near its head, and subsequently extended them down that river to its mouth.
The strip of land between the Warwick
and the James
, being marshy, could easily be rendered difficult, if not impracticable, for military movements by inundation, for which purpose dams were constructed on the Warwick
's defences were so complete that when McClellan
advanced against them on the 4th of April with his powerful army,