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J. Hotchkiss
J. Hotchkiss

Confederate (CSV)

Jedediah Hotchkiss

(1828 - 1899)
Home State: Virginia
Command Billet: Topographical engineer
Branch of Service: Engineers
Unit: Jackson's Command


Before the Antietam Campaign:
Hotchkiss was Topographical Engineer on MGen Jackson's staff, and accompanied him through the campaigns of the ANV.

Born in New York in 1828, Jed Hotchkiss moved to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia in 1847 where he earned his living as a schoolteacher. Hotchkiss also supplemented his income as a mining geologist and - though never formally trained as a cartographer - by making maps. He married a Pennsylvanian named Sara Ann Comfort in 1853 and they had two daughters. In 1859, Jed Hotchkiss and his brother Nelson founded the Loch Willow Academy, a school for boys, in Churchville.

Hotchkiss closed his school in June 1861 and began his military career drawing maps for Confederate General Robert Garnett in western Virginia. In 1862, he secured an appointment on Jackson's staff. "I want you to make me a map of the Valley, from Harpers Ferry to Lexington," Jackson ordered Hotchkiss, "showing all the points of offence and defence in those places." There were very few maps for Hotchkiss to use as a base for his own work, and he usually rode out on horseback to survey the land himself.

The Hotchkiss-Jackson combination bred success, for the general's lightning strikes depended heavily on making the most of the terrain.

The remainder of the War:
After Jackson's death in 1863, Hotchkiss continued as a topographical engineer with the Confederate forces, traveling with General Richard Ewell to Gettysburg and then, back in Virginia, serving under General Jubal Early. It was one of Hotchkiss' maps that enabled Early to surprise the Federals at Cedar Creek in October 1864.

After the War:
After the war ended in 1865, Hotchkiss returned to the Shenandoah Valley, opening an engineering firm and teaching school in Staunton, Virginia. In 1867, he wrote a book with a friend, Jackson's former chief of ordnance William Allen, entitled The Battlefields of Virginia: Chancellorsville. Hotchkiss died in January 1899 after a successful post-war career as a geologist and engineer.

References, Sources, and other notes:
Hotchkiss is referred to in the literature ocasionally as Lieutenant or even Major, but there is no evidence he was ever formally commissioned. He was more like a civilian contractor to the Army.

Photo above from copy published in McElfresh1, original source unknown.

More on the Web:
See a collection of his maps at the Library of Congress, and a letter to his wife following the battle. A brief bio (excerpts above) is found at the CWPT site.

Birth Date: 11/28/1828    Place of Birth: Windsor, NY    
Death Date: 1/17/1899    Death Place: Staunton, VA    


1   McElfresh, Earl B., Maps and Mapmakers of the Civil War, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999  [AotW citation 480]

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