During the American Civil War, Jed Hotchkiss was the premier topographical engineer for the South. A northerner and self-taught mapmaker, he is mostly remember for his work in the Shenandoah Valley with General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Stonewall “hired” Hotchkiss in March of 1862 to “Make ‘him’ a map of the valley from Harper's Ferry to Lexington showing all points of offense and defense in those places.” He was Jackson confidant and old Stonewall was said not to make a move in the Valley without consulting his mapmaker.
Jed never received a permanent Officer’s Commission, but was considered “Captain Hotchkiss” by officers and men alike. Neither Jackson nor General Lee could convince the Secretary of War to give him a permanent Officer’s Commission. In the Fall 1862, he did received a temporary appointment as Captain of Engineers entitled to Captains rank and pay.
After Jackson’s death (Chancellorsville, 1863), he served some of the great leaders of the confederacy including Robert E. Lee, Richard Ewell, Jubal Early, and John B. Gordon. Many considered his maps works of art and are beautiful representations of the horrible battles of the war. Most of his maps have survived and today many of them are in the US Library of Congress.
After the war, Hotchkiss settled down in his home in Staunton, Virginia to find normalcy and a peaceful civilian life for himself and his family. The US War Department borrowed many of his maps after the war and made lithographs for the "Official Records Atlas". He was consulted numerous times by other war veterans and was a stickler for accuracy and honesty. Jed died peacefully in his Staunton home in January, 1899 at 70 years old.