This Day (There’s a Map for That Edition)

Published:March 26, 2013 by Brendan Wolfe

Map of the Battle of Spotsylvania by Jedediah Hotchkiss (CivilWar.com/Library of Congress)

On this day in 1862, Confederate general Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson delivered 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.

As famous orders go, it’s not exactly “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” but Virginians do love their maps!

Also on this day, in 1868, the Richmond Daily Enquirer & Examiner lauded the Ku Klux Klan as

an organization which is thoroughly loyal to the Federal constitution, but which will not permit the people of the South to become the victims of negro rule. It is purely defensive, and for the protection of the white race, and has been rendere necessary by the organization of secret negro leagues, whose members have been stimulated to carry out the work of disfranchisement of the whites by the promise of pillage and wholesale confiscation.

Speaking of which—and I realize we’re now going out of chronological order—on this day 150 years ago the Confederate Congress passed the Impressment Act, allowing the government to confiscate food, fuel, slaves, and whatever else it deemed necessary to support its armies in the field. And while the politicians in Richmond did not view this as “the promise of pillage and wholesale confiscation,” many white Southerners did. So howled the editor of the Richmond Examiner:

 These arbitrary impressments of Government touch the people’s pride and sense of justice. It behooves Congress to redress the present wrongful practice and establish a proper system of impressment without delay.

The War Department wasn’t listening, however. In just two years it “impressed” $500 million worth of stuff. I’d like to see one of those “secret negro leagues” do as much!

IMAGE: Map of the Battle of Spotsylvania by Jedediah Hotchkiss (CivilWar.com/Library of Congress)