Justice to General Magruder-letter from Rev. P. G. Robert.
editor Southern Historical Society Papers:I have just finished Colonel Taylor's valuable book, “Four years with General Lee.” On page 49, in the history of Malvern Hill, it is written: “Considerable delay was occasioned in the pursuit from the fact that the ground was unknown to the Confederate commanders. On this occasion General Magruder took the wrong route, and had to be recalled, thereby losing much precious time.” As one of the peninsula army, jealous for the reputation of General Magruder, I write to suggest a correction of this statement. At least, to record another account which we had of the affair at the time. It was understood when we left the battle-field of Frazer's Farm, which we reached the night before, after that action, that our column was to move to a point south or southeast of the position it held at the battle of Malvern Hill, and we were expected to reach it before the enemy. We were to take the Quaker road. Unfortunately there were two paths of that name — an old and a new one. We were following the former, when the column was halted, once or twice, without apparent reason. Presently the head of the column, at which rode Longstreet and Magruder, was counter-marched, after we had gone about a mile, and we turned in at Crew's farm. As I was standing near the colonel of my regiment, conversing with him, an aid (I think, of General Magruder,) rode along our front, and the colonel asked him the cause of these halts and the counter-march. He replied that there was a difference of opinion between Generals Longstreet and Magruder as to the road — Longstreet insisting that we were going wrong, Magruder that we were right, as his guide was a man who had fox-hunted over the country, and knew every foot of it. This quieted General Longstreet the first time, but he soon became again dissatisfied; and then General Magruder said that if our direction was changed General Longstreet must give the order, and he, of course, would obey, although he knew we were right.  Longstreet turned us back, and then we lost the valuable time in which we might have anticipated the enemy. If Magruder had been permitted to proceed, perhaps there might have been a different result, at least to our brigade (Cobb's), which suffered so severely that afternoon. One of his old command feels that it is but just to “Old Mag.” and the love we bore him to remove any reflection from his memory, however slight; for it was always felt that the General never received full credit for the masterly manner in which he so long guarded the real approach to Richmond.