"At the recent headquarters of General Magruder, situated on a commanding eminence, with an earthwork in front, I again discovered the pickets of the enemy."
May 4, 1862
Captain William P. Chambliss
5th U.S. Cavalry
Lee Hall Mansion is the only large antebellum plantation house remaining on the lower Virginia Peninsula. Completed in 1859, Lee Hall Mansion was home to affluent planter Richard Decauter Lee (of the York County Lee family), his wife Martha, and their children. Only three years after the house's completion, the Lees fled their home as the Peninsula became one of the first battlegrounds of the Civil War.
Built on high ground, Lee Hall Mansion had a natural and commanding view of the countryside. Consequently, between April and May of 1862, the house was used as a Confederate headquarters by Major General John B. Magruder and General Joseph E. Johnston. From this location, Magruder and Johnston directed the defense of the Peninsula against Major General George B. McClellan's advancing Union Army, and for three weeks delayed the Union advance.
However, on May 3, 1862, the Confederate Army was ordered to retreat. A small skirmish was fought on the property by the retreating Confederates and Union cavalry on May 4, 1862. The Peninsula remained under Union control until the end of the war. The Lees eventually returned to the house and resided there until 1871. Since then, many different individuals have owned Lee Hall Mansion.
The City of Newport News purchased Lee Hall Mansion in 1996, restoring the house to its antebellum appearance. Now an historic house museum documenting the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, Lee Hall Mansion's decorated rooms and the 1862 Peninsula Campaign Gallery are open to the public. Special programs and lectures are offered throughout the year interpreting how the Civil War forever changed the fabric of American society.