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Hampton, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Battle of Big Bethel

Commanding Officers

 
 
Battle of Big Bethel Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2017
1. Battle of Big Bethel Marker
Inscription.  Confederate Col. John Bankhead Magruder (1807-1871) graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1830. He served in the Second Seminole War 1835-1842) and the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), and commanded an artillery battery in Washington, D.C., when the Civil War began. He resigned his commission, was appointed a Confederate colonel, and was assigned to defend the Peninsula. Lauded for his success at Big Bethel, he failed at Malvern Hill under Gen. Robert E. Lee a year later. Magruder was reassigned to Texas, where he won the Battle of Galveston on January 1, 1863. After the war, he first fled to Mexico and served in the army of Emperor Maximilian I, and the settled in Houston, Texas, where he died.

Union Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818-1893) was a Massachusetts lawyer and politician. Appointed a general when the Civil War erupted, he secured the vital rail link between the North and Washington, DC by occupying Baltimore in May 1861. A grateful President Abraham Lincoln appointed him commander of Fort Monroe. Despite the debacle at Big Bethel, Butler continued in the service until November 1865. He refused to return
Battle of Big Bethel Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2017
2. Battle of Big Bethel Marker
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escaped slaves (“contrabands of war") to their owners, and thereby set Federal policy. Butler insisted that black troops serve in combat. He led a successful expedition to eastern North Carolina, gained notoriety as military governor of Louisiana, and bungled at Bermuda Hundred and Fort Fisher. After the war, he served several congressional terms and was governor of Massachusetts.

(captions)
Flamboyant and pompous, “Prince John” Col. John B. Magruder designed his own uniforms. Courtesy Library of Congress
Battle of Galveston, Harper’s Weekly, Jan. 31, 1863
Sgt. Christian Fleetwood received the Medal of Honor (center) for bravery at the Battle of New Market Heights in 1864, when he served in Butler’s Army of the James. Library of Congress
The military establishment detested Gen. Benjamin F. Butler (and vice versa) but he survived several attempts to sack him. Library of Congress
 
Erected 2016 by Virginia Civil War Trails. (Marker Number 3.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical date for this entry is June 10, 1861.
 
Location. 37° 5.502′ N, 76° 25.583′ W. Marker is in Hampton
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, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Big Bethel Road (Virginia Route 600) 0.1 miles north of Semple Farm Road, on the left when traveling north. Located in Bethel Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hampton VA 23666, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); Battle of Big Bethel Union Monument (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hampton.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 19, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 29, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 235 times since then and 17 times this year. Last updated on April 18, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 29, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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May. 6, 2021