1864 – Sketch of actions near Kearneysville and Shepherdstown, Va.

Thursday, Aug’t 25th 1864

Map courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Map Maker

  • Major Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828-1899)

    Major Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828-1899), a topographic engineer in the Confederate Army, made detailed battle maps, primarily of the Shenandoah Valley. In 1862, impressed by Hotchkiss’ leadership and orienting skills, Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson told Hotchkiss: “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.” Many of Hotchkiss’ maps were used by Jackson and Gen. Robert E. Lee to plan combat strategy. After the war, Hotchkiss started an engineering firm, taught school in Staunton, Virginia, and published a number of scientific articles about the flora and fauna of Virginia.

The Map

The Shenandoah Valley was a crucial supply region for the Confederacy, particularly for Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. U. S. Army Gen. Ulysses S. Grant intended to interrupt that supply line and draw off the Confederate forces while the Union Army of the Potomac moved south toward Richmond.

Skirmishes broke out on August 25, 1864, between Confederate forces led by Gen. Jubal Early and Union cavalry trying to stop his advance on Shepherdstown. After defeating the Union cavalry divisions of Wesley Merritt and J. H. Wilson between Leetown and Kearneysville, Early’s cavalry then defeated the Union cavalry under Major Gen. George Custer at Shepherdstown.