Detail of Jedediah Hotchkiss’ 1862 Shenandoah Valley Map
In the spring of 1862, Major General “Stonewall” Jackson and his foot cavalry out-maneuvered the Union army by marching over hundreds of miles over the Shenandoah Valley’s roads and putting his forces in positions to win numerous engagements and five major battles. One of the secrets to Jackson's success was his map of the valley, which was created by his chief engineer, Jedediah Hotchkiss. Hotchkiss was a schoolteacher by training, but dabbled in mapmaking as a hobby. At the beginning of the war, he offered his services to the Confederates, and in the spring of 1862, Hotchkiss found himself on Jackson’s staff with one directive: “I want you to make me a map of the Valley, from Harpers Ferry to Lexington, showing all the points of offense and defense in those places.”1 The maps at the time were of little use for military operations, usually commissioned by businessmen or state governments and focused on depicting roads, railroads, and mineral deposits. These surveys were vastly out of date and lacked the topographic detail needed for military operations. Hotchkiss was given a wagon and a driver to complete his reconnaissance and the result would be a map on linen, stretching over eight feet long and depicting all the fords, terrain and roads that allowed Jackson's command to make his lighting movements up and down and around the valley.
Kagan, Neil, and Stephen G. Hyslop. National Geographic Atlas of the Civil War: A Comprehensive Guide to the Tactics and Terrain of Battle. Washington, D. C: National Geographic Society, 2009. Print.
1Kagan, Neil, and Stephen G. Hyslop. National Geographic Atlas of the Civil War: A Comprehensive Guide to the Tactics and Terrain of Battle. Washington, D. C: National Geographic Society, 2009. Print.