Date of Award

Summer 1991

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Harold S. Wilson

Committee Member

Peter C. Stewart

Committee Member

Willard C. Frank, Jr.


The viability of the Confederacy depended on its ability to organize a government and military defense force. Two early concerns were the operation of Gosport Naval Shipyard and protection of the Confederate capital at Richmond. Poised between them was Fortress Monroe.

With undisputed Union mastery of the Chesapeake Bay, Fortress Monroe was a constant reminder of the tentative security of these critical points. The man chosen to protect the Peninsula was Virginian, John Bankhead Magruder. Less than one year later, his efforts were denigrated by Commanding General Joseph E. Johnston who wanted to pursue his own strategic plan.

Under constant stress, Magruder performed with alacrity. Although the Peninsula was evacuated in May 1862, Magruder did an admirable job of defense. Magruder's place in history has been discolored by perceived battlefield failures at Savage's Station and Malvern Hill. These are an unfortunate footnote to an otherwise solid military career.