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Battle of Chancellorsville Map Showing Battlefield Situation at 7:30 p.m. on May 2, 1863, after Stonewall Jackson's Bold Flank Assault

“The Confederates promise to stand by me in these articles in stating facts. Two copies have been sent south to officers who were with Jackson—to criticize.”

This intriguing set of maps illustrates the relative disposition of Confederate and Union troops after General Stonewall Jackson’s flank attack on the Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. They were drawn and labeled by Union surgeon Augustus C. Hamlin, nephew of Vice President Hannibal Hamlin. Also included is a hardcover version of "The Battle of Chancellorsville / Jackson's Attack" by Augustus Choate Hamlin, published in 1896.

In his quest to get the facts related to the assault on the Union Eleventh Corps by Jackson’s Second Corps, Hamlin consulted with both Union and Confederate officers and soldiers, visited the battlefield three times, and sketched and revised maps many times. In the preface to his published 1896 account, Hamlin wrote, “All accessible maps, official and unofficial, relating to the territory, have been consulted, and with their aid, strengthened with new surveys, a series of new maps has been constructed, showing the position of the various bodies of troops at brief intervals of time, to demonstrate the correctness of the narrative.”

During the course of his research, Hamlin sent a copy of this map and its key to Brigadier General John Thomas Lockman, who had been a lieutenant colonel at the Battle of Chancellorsville in command of the 119th New York Infantry, a regiment in Major General Carl Schurz’s Third Division of the Eleventh Corps. Lockman, in turn, sent it to Captain Francis Irsch, a German immigrant from the 45th New York Infantry, a regiment in Brigadier General Charles Devens Jr.’s First Division of the Eleventh Corps. All three men held offices in the Eleventh Army Corps Association in the 1890s and 1900s. Hamlin included a version of this map in his article “Chancellorsville, Action at Hazel Grove, on Saturday, 7:30 p.m., May 2, 1863,” published in The National Tribune of December 15, 1892. In his article, Hamlin insisted that Hooker’s decision to abandon the high ground of Hazel Grove, south of Chancellorsville, was the cause of the disaster, and not the conduct of the Eleventh Corps. He challenged Brigadier General Alfred Pleasonton’s assertion that the retreating Eleventh Corps prevented his guns from firing at the oncoming Confederates at Hazel Grove and left much material behind as they fled as a fabrication. Hamlin wrote, “It is too late for the author of these false reports to make amends to the men of the Eleventh Corps, for the most of them are dead; but it is not too late to correct the inscriptions in history, wherein every deserving soldier receives his just reward.... Neither of the resolute, the sturdy, the immortal armies of Virginia require fancy or fiction to give interest or force to their acts or their career.”

[CIVIL WAR.] AUGUSTUS C. HAMLIN, Archive of Maps and Correspondence, including three copies of a map of the Battle of Chancellorsville at 7:30 p.m., May 2, 1863, with two associated keys, dated last half of 19th century, possibly near contemporary to the Battle, but no later than 1892; Autograph Letter Signed, to John Thomas Lockman, October 18, 1892, Bangor, Maine; John Thomas Lockman, Autograph Letter Signed, to Francis Irsch, October 20, 1892, New York, New York. Hand-drawn and labeled map, produced some time between 1863-1892. 9 pp., 5.5" x 9" to 9.5" x 7.75". Pinholes in top left corner of one copy of map, key, and letters, not affecting text; smaller sheets attached to other copies of map to extend them; some small edge tears; very good.

Complete Transcript of Hamlin to Lockman Letter:

"Bangor Me

Oct 18/92

My dear Genl

Enclosed please find the first of my articles to be published but really the 3d of the series. This will draw the enemys fire Show it to whom you wish and then return to me, with remarks I expect to print it in the Nat. Tribune by middle of Nov. The Confederates promise to stand by me in these articles in stating facts. Two copies have been sent south to officers who were with Jackson—to criticize

Yours truly

Aug. C. Hamlin

Genl. Lockman / 88 Nassau St / N. York Irsch perhaps would like to see it.

Historical Background:

For decades after the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Eleventh Corps of the Army of the Potomac bore the brunt of the blame for the Union Army’s failure to trap and destroy Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s much smaller Army of Northern Virginia. Composed largely of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio regiments with a large number of German and other Central European immigrants, the Eleventh Corps was led by Major General Oliver O. Howard, who had recently replaced Franz Sigel. Nearly a third of the corps had never seen combat. It secured the right flank of the Army of the Potomac on May 1, 1863, a few miles west of Chancellorsville. In a bold gamble, Lee divided his army in the face of a superior force and sent General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s Second Corps with 28,000 men marching west behind the main Confederate force to attack the Union Army’s right flank from the west. Although the overall Union commander of the Army of the Potomac Joseph Hooker instructed Howard to defend against an attack from the west, Howard failed to do so. Neither Hooker nor Howard believed the Confederates could attack through the dense woods to the west. Jackson’s forces attacked around 5:30 p.m. on May 2, and what happened next became the subject of decades of controversy. Some of the regiments, including the 75th Ohio and Major General Carl Schurz’s division, quickly reoriented to face the attack and resisted for twenty minutes before the overwhelming strength of the Confederate assault forced them to retreat. The corps lost about one quarter of its men, including 12 of 23 regimental commanders, indicating that it had resisted the Confederate attack. The rout might have been worse, but Confederate General Jackson rode forward to survey the possibility of a night attack under a full moon. As he and his staff officers returned to their lines, Confederates from the 18th North Carolina Infantry mistook them for Union cavalry and fired into the group. Jackson was wounded three times, and his left arm had to be amputated. While recovering, he developed pneumonia and died on May 10. His wounding effectively ended the Confederate attack.

The battle continued the next day, as the Army of Northern Virginia forced the Army of the Potomac to retreat toward the Rappahannock River. Union forces under General John Sedgwick drove Confederate defenders away from nearby Fredericksburg but failed to rejoin Hooker’s main force. By May 6, Hooker had withdrawn over the Rappahannock, and Lee savored his greatest victory, but with the loss of 22 percent of his army that he could not easily replace. Assigning blame for the embarrassing Union defeat at Chancellorsville began almost immediately. President Lincoln was horrified, and exclaimed, “My God! My God! What will the country say?”

For years, Hooker blamed Howard for his loss at Chancellorsville. Anti-German sentiment found a convenient scapegoat among the German and other European soldiers of the Eleventh Corps, and the story gained force from many retellings. In the 1890s, Surgeon Augustus C. Hamlin of Maine, who was present at the Battle of Chancellorsville as the Medical Director of the Eleventh Corps, decided to set the record straight and defend the Eleventh Corps against what he considered unjust criticism. In 1893, he published a lengthy account of Jackson’s attack on May 2, 1863, in the weekly newspaper The National Tribune. Published in installments between June 22 and August 10, the account was an early version of his 1896 book The Battle of Chancellorsville: The Attack of Stonewall Jackson and His Army upon the Right Flank of the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville, Virginia, on Saturday Afternoon, May 2, 1863.

Augustus Choate Hamlin (1829-1905) was born in Maine and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1851 and from the Harvard Medical School in 1855. After spending a year in Europe, he established a medical practice in Bangor, Maine. Hamlin served in the Union Army during the entire civil war, first as an assistant surgeon with the 2nd Maine Infantry, then as a brigade surgeon from April 1862, and as a medical inspector from February 1863. He was haunted by reports that he fled from the 2nd Maine Infantry when it came under fire at the First Battle of Bull Run in the summer of 1861 and spent decades denying it. He served as medical director under General Franz Sigel in northern Virginia. Hamlin was the nephew of Vice President Hannibal Hamlin. After the war, he resumed his medical practice in Bangor and twice served as mayor. In 1866, he wrote and illustrated Martyria; or Andersonville Prison about the notorious Confederate prison in Georgia. From 1882 to 1886, he was the Surgeon-General of Maine. In 1896, he published The Battle of Chancellorsville: The Attack of Stonewall Jackson and His Army upon the Right Flank of the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville, Virginia, on Saturday Afternoon, May 2, 1863, a defense of Major General Oliver O. Howard’s Eleventh Corps. He was also an avid collector of the gemstone tourmaline and wrote several books about it.

John Thomas Lockman (1834-1912) was born in New York City and was a law student when the Civil War began. He enlisted as a private and was promoted to a brevet Brigadier General by the end of the war. After Colonel Peisner of the 119th New York Infantry was killed during the Battle of Chancellorsville, Lieut. Colonel Lockman took command of the regiment. He later fought in the Battle of Gettysburg, then the Battle of Missionary Ridge and the series of battles leading to the Siege of Atlanta. After the war, he resumed his legal studies and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1867. He joined his brother and others in the law firm of DeWitt, Lockman & Kip, later known as DeWitt, Lockman & DeWitt.

Francis Irsch (1840-1906) was born in Germany. He served as a captain in Company D of the 45th New York Infantry. He received the Medal of Honor in May 1892 for his actions during the Battle of Gettysburg, on July 1,1863. He was taken prisoner and held at Richmond’s infamous Libby Prison. In February 1864, he and 108 other captives tunneled out of the prison, but Irsch was recaptured and held as a prisoner until exchanged in March 1865. He served as secretary of the Eleventh Army Corps Association from at least 1893 to 1905. Plagued by ill health and failed business ventures, Irsch died in poverty in Tampa, Florida.

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