Jedediah Hotchkiss was born November 30, 1828, in Windsor, New York. His father was a farmer but appreciated Jedediah's studious bent enough to enroll him at Windsor Academy. Young Hotchkiss was fascinated with geography and geology, and after graduation in 1846 he and several friends made a walking tour of Lyken's Valley in Pennsylvania. There Hotchkiss took his first job, teaching a term of school. When that was finished, his further wanderings brought him to the Luray Valley, part of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. There he again took work, first as a tutor to a local family and then as principal of his own Mossy Creek School. Having been raised a Presbyterian, he joined the local Presbyterian church and in December 1853 married Sara Ann Comfort of Lanesboro, Pennsylvania. In 1859 the couple moved to a farm near Churchville, Virginia, where, together with Hotchkiss's brother Nelson Hotchkiss, they opened the Loch Willow Academy. The school was highly successful. It was during these years that Hotchkiss, who still enjoyed the study of terrain, taught himself mapmaking.
Returning to duty in March 1862, Hotchkiss sought and gained assignment as a topographical engineer on the staff of Stonewall Jackson. On March 26, Jackson gave Hotchkiss his famous order: "I want you to make me a map of the Valley, from Harpers Ferry to Lexington, showing all the points of offense and defence in those places." Hotchkiss did just that, preparing an accurate, detailed, and easily understandable map for Jackson's use. Using pencils of different colors, he took great pains to make the map clear and easy to grasp, and he frequently briefed Jackson on aspects of terrain.
During the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of March and April 1862, Hotchkiss performed invaluable terrain reconnaissance and appreciation duties for Jackson. After the campaign he continued in those duties with Jackson's Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia throughout the Virginia campaigns of 1862 and 1863. At Chancellorsville in May 1863 Hotchkiss was not far from where Jackson was mortally wounded by friendly fire. The same volley that eventually killed Jackson also killed Hotchkiss's friend and tent-mate, Captain James Keith Boswell.
Hotchkiss continued his duties as a topographical engineer with the Second Corps
under its subsequent commanders, Richard S. Ewell and Jubal A.
Early. He accompanied the Army of Northern Virginia in its invasion of his
wife's native state, and he was with Early when the Army of the Valley marched to the outskirts of
Washington, D.C., in 1864. That autumn, information Hotchkiss provided was a key
factor in the Confederates' initial success at the Battle of Cedar Creek. The
following spring, Hotchkiss continued to serve in the upper Shenandoah Valley area
with generals Thomas L. Rosser and Lunsford Lomax. Upon learning of Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House on
After the war Hotchkiss taught for several years and then quit teaching to take up engineering full-time. He became an avid promoter of and investor in the development of mining and timber interests in western Virginia and neighboring West Virginia. He composed the Virginia volume—volume 3—of the set Confederate Military History (1899). Living in Staunton, he was for many years active in the Second Presbyterian Church. Hotchkiss died January 17, 1899 at his home, the Oaks.
November 30, 1828 - Jedediah Hotchkiss is born in Windsor, New York.
1846 - Jedediah Hotchkiss graduates from the Windsor Academy in Windsor, New York, after which he and several friends take a walking tour of Lyken's Valley in Pennsylvania. He will teach school there and later move to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
December 1853 - Jedediah Hotchkiss marries Sara Ann Comfort of Lanesboro, Pennsylvania. Hotchkiss is principal of the school he founded, Moss Creek School, in the Shenandoah Valley.
1859 - Jedediah Hotchkiss and his wife move to a farm near Churchville, Virginia, where, together with his brother Nelson Hotchkiss, they open Loch Willow Academy.
June 1861 - Despite the fact that he and his wife are from the North and despite his brother's staunch Unionism, Jedediah Hotchkiss joins the Confederate army.
July 11, 1861 - In the Confederate debacle at the Battle of Rich Mountain, Jedediah Hotchkiss leads a small contingent of Confederate troops in escaping capture at a point when Union forces have them nearly surrounded.
Autumn 1861 - Jedediah Hotchkiss suffers from typhoid fever and takes an extended sick leave from the Confederate army.
March 1862 - Jedediah Hotchkiss seeks and receives assignment as a topographical engineer on the staff of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
March–April 1862 - Jedediah Hotchkiss performs invaluable terrain reconnaissance duties for Confederate general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign.
March 26, 1862 - Confederate general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson delivers a famous order to his topographical engineer, Jedediah Hotchkiss: "I want you to make me a map of the Valley, from Harpers Ferry to Lexington, showing all the points of offense and defence in those places."
May 2, 1863 - Jedediah Hotchkiss is not far from Confederate general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson when he is accidentally shot and mortally wounded by Confederate soldiers during the Battle of Chancellorsville. Hotchkiss's friend and tent-mate, James Keith Boswell, is killed by the same volley.
October 19, 1864 - Jedediah Hotchkiss provides topographical information that is key to Confederate success at the Battle of Cedar Creek.
April 1865 - When he learns of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's surrender, Jedediah Hotchkiss confers with the Confederate secretary of war, John C. Breckinridge, and then disbands his small topographical detachment.
May 1, 1865 - Jedediah Hotchkiss is paroled by Union forces.
1899 - Jedediah Hotchkiss's volume 3, or the Virginia volume, of the Confederate Military History is published.
January 17, 1899 - Jedediah Hotchkiss dies in Staunton, Virginia.
- Civil War, American (1861–1865)
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Woodworth, S. E. Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828–1899). (2011, March 31). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Hotchkiss_Jedediah_1828-1899.
- MLA Citation:
Woodworth, Steven E. "Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828–1899)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 31 Mar. 2011. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: November 24, 2009 | Last modified: March 31, 2011
Contributed by Steven E. Woodworth, a professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.