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.