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General Longstreet’s Wilderness Wound

James Longstreet

Lieut. Gen. James Longstreet

Following a successful flank attack at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864, Lieut. Gen. James Longstreet was riding forward along the Plank Road when a volley of fire emerged from the woods to his right. Longstreet felt the sudden pain of a bullet passing through his neck and shoulder as he became yet another victim of friendly fire. The severity of the wound became quickly evident, as he recalled in his memoirs: “…[I]n a minute the flow of blood admonished me that my work for the day was done.”

The events associated General Longstreet’s injury were eerily similar to those surrounding Stonewall Jackson’s wounding, which occurred roughly four miles to the east, one year and four days earlier.  And although much has been written in the past 150 years about the events surrounding Jackson’s wounding and its implications, the details of Longstreet’s wounding have, for the most part, gone largely unnoticed. However, in another similarity to the Jackson event, the actual specifics of Longstreet’s injury may be in contrast to commonly held impressions.

Jed Hotchkiss Maps the Shenandoah Valley

Hotchkiss

Jedediah Hotchkiss

On March 26, 1862, three days after the Battle of Kernstown, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson asked to see a 33-year-old schoolteacher in the Augusta County militia who happened to be good at drawing maps. After a brief conversation with Jedediah Hotchkiss on the cartography work he had done the previous year in western Virginia, Jackson launched the career of the most famous mapmaker of the Civil War with three sentences: “I want you to make me a map of the Valley, from Harper’s Ferry to Lexington, showing all the points of offense and defense in those places. Mr. Pendleton will give you orders for whatever outfit you want. Good morning, Sir.”

A native of Windsor, New York, Hotchkiss moved to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia at age nineteen and worked as a teacher in the Mossy Creek Academy of Augusta County. Having a secondary interest in mining geology, Hotchkiss also took up the self-taught hobby of mapmaking.