Set of three manuscript, hand-colored battle maps. WITH: Battle of Chancellorsville

CIVIL WAR   |   Augustus C. HAMLIN

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(CIVIL WAR) HAMLIN, Augustus Choate. Set of three manuscript, hand-colored battle maps. WITH: The Battle of Chancellorsville. Jackson's Attack. No place, circa 1892 and Bangor, Maine: Published by the Author, 1896. Three sheets of buff paper, each measuring 9 by 5-1/2 inches. WITH: Octavo, original pictorial beige paper wrappers. $6500.

Set of three hand-drawn and hand-colored maps depicting the Battle of Chancellorsville—particularly Stonewall Jackson's flank attack—by Union Surgeon Augustus C. Hamlin, who was present at and became a leading expert on the controversial Union loss, accompanied by a first edition of his groundbreaking book on the subject.

This fascinating trio of maps was drawn by Augustus Choate Hamlin, a Union Army Surgeon and Civil War historian. Here, Hamlin illustrates the first phases of General Stonewall Jackson's flank attack on the Army of the Potomac at the Battles of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. These maps carefully depict Hamlin's own recollection of and research into the battle.

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. The Army of the Potomac was composed largely of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio regiments—with a large number of central European immigrants. Nearly a third of the men had never seen combat. Yet, they were entrusted with securing the right flank of the Army of the Potomac at 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 Union commander of the Army of the Potomac Joseph Hooker instructed Major General Howard, the leader of the Eleventh Corps, to defend against an attack from the west, Howard failed to do so. Neither Hooker nor Howard believed that the Confederates could attack through the dense woods to the west.

Jackson's forces attacked around 5:30 p.m. on May 2nd. What happened next sparked decades of controversy. Some of the regiments, including the 75th Ohio and Major General Carl Schurz's division, quickly reoriented to face the attack. They resisted for just twenty minutes before the overwhelming strength of the Confederate assault forced them to retreat. The corps lost about a quarter of its men, including half of its regimental commanders. The high casualties were proof of the strength of their failed resistance.

The battle continued through May 3rd, when 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 and the main fighting force. By May 6th, Hooker had withdrawn over the Rappahannock and Lee savored his greatest victory—albeit with the loss of 22 percent of his army.

The severity of the attack might have been worse, but for the injury and death of Confederate General Jackson who 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 at them. Jackson was wounded three times by friendly fire. His arm had to be amputated. While attempting to recover, he contracted pneumonia and, eight days after his initial injury, died. When he was wounded, the Confederate attack essentially halted.

The assignment of blame for the Union defeat began almost immediately. President Lincoln, horrified, exclaimed, "My God! My God! What will the country say?" For years, Hooker blamed Howard for his loss at Chancellorsville. Moreover, anti-German sentiment found a convenient scapegoat in the European soldiers of the Eleventh Corps. This story of the loss, however unsubstantiated, became the dominant one as it was retold all across the country.

In the 1890s, Surgeon Augustus Hamlin of Maine (Vice President Hannibal Hamlin's nephew)—who was present at the Battle of Chancellorsville at the Medical Director of the Eleventh Corps—decided to set the record straight. He defended the Eleventh Corps against what he considered to be unjust criticism. In 1893, he published a lengthy account of Jackson's attack in the weekly newspaper, The National Tribune. Published in installments between June 22 and August 10, the account served as a forerunner to his 1896 book (included here), The Battle of Chancellorsville.

Hamlin consulted with both Union and Confederate officers and soldiers, visited the battlefield three times, and sketched and revised maps repeatedly. 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."

This series of manuscript maps shows the relative positions of Confederate and Union forces on the Union right flank on May 2, 1863 at 5:30-5:45, 5:45-6:30, and 6:30-7:00 or 7:15. Hamlin included version of these maps in both his 1892 articles for the National Tribute and his 1896 book.

On the third map, Hamlin has added that "Bushbeck gave away at 7," a reference to the heroic stand of Colonel Adolphus Buschbeck's brigade of New York and Pennsylvania regiments alongside the guns of Captain Hubert Dilger's battery of the 1st Ohio Artillery. They eventually had to retreat, but did so with dignity and valor. Nevins, 31.

Maps lovely and fine, book extremely good with light wear and toning to wrappers.

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