Stonewall Jackson’s Last Map


From John Hennessy and Beth Parnicza:

Jackson's map.1080

Jackson’s map. See the bottom of the post for a version with the modern landscape overlaid upon it.

It is perhaps the greatest artifact in the park’s collection, and we’re putting it on display for the Chancellorsville 150th. It’s a map in Jackson’s distinctive hand, showing the battlefield around Chancellorsville, with markings both random (seemingly) and purposeful. We cannot say when Jackson composed this map or how he used it. But there are clues, and questions.

First, some background: Robert E. Lee kept relatively few mementoes from the war, but this is one. After the war, he took the map and mounted it in his first-off-the-press copy of John Esten Cooke’s 1863 biography of Jackson. He also pasted into the book Jackson’s autograph, and then signed the title page himself: R.E. Lee.

The history of the book and the map is unclear, but by the 1890s it was in private hands. It came to the park in 1940, donated by Roland I. Taylor, who bought it an auction in Philadelphia for $750 (isn’t THAT painful to read in 2013?). The book and map (they are inseparable now) were on display at the Chancellorsville Visitor Center for more than four decades, though so unobtrusively that most visitors seemed to miss its importance.  We took it off display several years ago, fearful that continued exposure to light would damage it.  The book and map are now back on display for the 150th.

An early article about the map asserts it was used by Lee and Jackson at their final bivouac on the night of May 1-2. That may be true, but it’s also clear the map includes a good deal of information that suggests Jackson used earlier in the campaign: Fredericksburg, Hamilton’s Crossing, and, most tellingly, Tabernacle Church are all marked in Jackson’s hand.  These places mattered to Jackson on April 30 and May 1.

But, the map also includes features germane to Jackson’s flank march and attack on May 2: the Brock Road (almost perfectly drawn), Wilderness Tavern, and the fords on the Rapidan and Rappahannock (though they are not labeled).  Tellingly, it does not include the network of roads that would carry him to the Brock Road on May 2, and ultimately to the Union flank. Information about those roads did not emerge until the night of May 1-2.

A few intriguing marks and symbols appear, their purpose not entirely clear. Continue reading

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Animals at Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg: further Options for Understanding Battles?


from: Harrison

This is an edited version of a post first appearing in September 2010 on our sister blog, Fredericksburg Remembered. A revision and reposting here seemed timely on the eve of Chancellorsville’s sesquicentennial.

I’ve often wondered how developments in the animal-rights movement will affect historical interpretation, including that of Civil War events. I’m thinking today of places related to the Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg campaigns, and eyewitness portrayals of animals there.

A pair of dead horses and, evidently, birds of prey sharpen the visual impact of the Chancellorsville battlefield in a June 1863 sketch, at left; a flock of chickens, in engraving at right, soften it at virtually the same spot 21 years later. Sketch by Confederate engineer Benjamin Lewis Blackford courtesy Library of Virginia; photograph-derived engraving by Charles Wellington Reed from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.

Dead horses and, evidently, birds of prey sharpen the battlefield landscape at Chancellorsville in a June 1863 sketch, at left; a flock of chickens, in engraving at right, softens it at virtually the same spot 21 years later. Sketch by Confederate engineer Benjamin Lewis Blackford courtesy Library of Virginia; photograph-derived engraving by Charles Wellington Reed from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.

Of course, the record of humans’ advocacy on behalf of animals is as ancient as the record of their affection for or, at the other extreme, mistreatment of animals. Yet I’m still struck by the prominence of recent, animal-centered legal developments, media programming, and product- and service marketing.

Lasting rights-revolutions for people have obviously wrought profound change in the way we talk about history. Will today’s ongoing, dramatic shifts in the status of animals exert comparable influence over our understanding of the past, of those moments when their ancestors shared the stage with ours and with equal visibility?

My preliminary thoughts include placing historical portrayals of animals along a spectrum. Anchoring one end are images of animals essentially as animated scenery for military events, with animals (in humans’ perception) granted only minimal influence or agency. My spectrum’s other end, however, is anchored by humans’ portrayals of animals’ agency or utility, sometimes to the extent of their intervening decisively in human affairs. I am also fascinated by the interplay, within this spectrum, of animals-as-individuals and animals-as-symbols.

Cattle and evidently at least two oxen accompanying the Federal army at Chancellorsville, amid the chaos just behind the gun line at Fairview. Detail from a sketch by Alfred Waud. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Let’s begin with portrayals of animals (again, in humans’ perception) as animated-scenery on battlefields. A Union veteran, describing events near Salem Church on May 4, 1863, wrote about a herd of cattle trapped between the opposing skirmish lines. Watching the animals, the man recalled, “it was very amusing to see them run and bellow, first to the right, then to the left, with tails straight out.”

Half of a two-part ox shoe found in area of Stafford County occupied by encamped Federals during the Fredericksburg-Chancellorsville period, and by units from both armies at other times during the war.  Courtesy White Oak Museum.

Half of a two-part ox shoe found in area of Stafford County occupied by encamped Federals during the Fredericksburg-Chancellorsville period, and by units from both armies at other times during the war. Courtesy White Oak Museum.

Recalling a different moment and place in the Chancellorsville campaign zone, another Federal remembered that whip-poor-wills responded to “the strange changes that have come over their usually quiet haunts” by making the night “hideous” with their calls.

Whip-poor-will.

Whip-poor-will.

In his own recounting of Chancellorsville, Confederate veteran and writer John Esten Cooke described the whip-poor-wills in a more interactive role: performing, however unwittingly, a funeral dirge. Their “mournful” call, he noted, was “that sound which was the last to greet the ears of so many dying soldiers.”
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Stafford’s big day: the Lincoln review of April 8, 1863–where it happened and what of the places today?


From Hennessy:

On the eve of the 150th Anniversary of this event, we repost this from a couple years back.

Regulars of the Fifth Corps pass in review on the Sthreshley farm in Stafford County, April 8, 1863.

It was the greatest gathering of American military might ever displayed before the 1865 Grand Review in Washington, D.C. On April 8, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln reviewed about two-thirds of the Army of the Potomac–as many as 70,00o men–in the Union camps in Stafford County, across the Rappahannock from Fredericksburg. This spectacle was seen by few spectators, and the tortuous logistics that left soldiers standing in wait for hours peeved more than a few. But, the display had a profound affect on the army, for armies rarely get to see themselves. This day they did, and the soldiers were impressed. A few days later an officer of the 12th Corps mused, “after such an opportunity of seeing our army as I have had this last week, I cannot help” but conclude “that the Army of the Potomac is a collection of as fine troops…as there are in te world. I believe he day will come when it will be a proud thing for anyone to say he belonged to it.”

Click to enlarge

The huge April 8 review in Stafford (one of five held during Lincoln’s visit to the army) received national coverage in the press, attracting scribblers and artists from dozens of newspapers and magazines. Hundreds of descriptions written by soldiers survive–the vast majority including either grumbling at the wait or descriptions of  a “careworn” President (Lincoln may have thought he was reviewing the army, but the army emphatically was reviewing him).  The Union 2nd Corps, 5th Corps, 3rd Corps, and 6th Corps were all reviewed that day–three of them together on the Sthreshley Farm (called “Grafton”) and the 6th Corps on the fields in front of Boscobel, the home of Henrietta Fitzhugh. What of these sites today? Where are they?  What do they look like?

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