Monday, January 20, 2014

January 21, 1864 (Tuesday): Hotchkiss, Topographical Engineer

Hotchkiss' Map of the Battle of Cedar Creek (

STAUNTON, VA., January 21, 1864.
Major General J. A. EARLY,
Commanding Volley District, Harrisonburg, Va.:
    GENERAL: I last night received your letter of yesterday, giving me instructions. I brought my assistants along with me, with the consent of Generals Ewell and Lee, and I have obtained quarters in Staunton, where I can keep them at work and supervise them once a week at least.
    I have a surveyed map of Rockbridge County, and also a survey of portions of Augusta, Bath, and Allegheny Counties, and I shall have them at once put together by my assistants, and so forward the work assigned me. I am now making tracings of the maps I have  to take along with me, that I may verify them; that and other necessary preparations will occupy the rest of this week, and on Monday I shall start, and go first along the line of the North Mountain, by the road nearest to it on the east, and go as far as where the road from the Sweet Springs to Fincastle crossed the same mountain, then come back by the nearest line of parallel roads on the west of the North Mountain, and so back and forth until I reach the Allegheny Mountains, as I suppose by so doing I shall examine all the crossings of the mountains from one parallel valley to another. I think I had better make the main road from Harrisonburg, through Staunton, Lexington, Buchanan, and Fincastle, on the Salem, the limit of the map on the southeast; the road from Dry River Gap to Harrisonburg and the Parkersburg road from Staunton westward the limit on the northeast; the Allegheny Mountains the limit on the southwest, making a section of country 100 miles long and 40 wide, as shown in the inclosed tracing. * Such, I understand, is the intention of your orders when you ask for "a map of Augusta and Rockbridge form Staunton and Lexington westward, and the counties adjoining them on the west," and "ascertain the routes from Covington to Lexington, Buchanan, Fincastle, and Salem. " All the materials from Staunton northeast to the proposed line are now ready to my hand, and only need reduction. If this boundary is not the one you desire, please specify to me a limit. I need a courier or cavalryman to go along with me; it expedites my observations much to have some one to send to ascertain names of houses, &c., while I am taking notes and sketching topography. A courier of Major Allan's (A. D. Moore) desires to accompany me, and General Ewell and Major Allan have consented for him to come, but General Lee has referred the matter to you. I will be obliged to you if you will approve it. I have asked Colonel Imboden to let one of his men accompany me next week, which will, I hope, meet with your approval. I have always had a courier sent with me when on such duty.
    I propose to construct the map on a scale of 1\160000 or 4\10 of an inch to the mile. My address will be Staunton.
    I am, general, you obedient servant,

    Captain and Topographical Engineer, Second Corps.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Pages 1111-1112.

Hotchkiss had written his name large in history by his work for Stonewall Jackson during his famous Valley campaign.  He continued in the same capacity with Jackson's sucessor's, most notably Jubal Early.  His diary of the war, "Make Me A Map of the Valley" is a very worthwhile acquisition for any student of Jackson, or the war in Virginia generally.

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