“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Boonsboro in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

The Lost Orders

The Lost Orders Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, June 2, 2006
1. The Lost Orders Marker
Inscription. No other document of the Civil War has generated so much controversy as Lee's Special Orders No. 191. These “Lost Orders” detailed the movements of Lee's army for the operation against Harpers Ferry. On September 9 Lee sent copies of the order to his subordinate commanders. The copy that General George B. McClellan read on September 13 was found by three Federal soldiers in an abandoned campsite near Frederick in an envelope wrapped around three cigars. The envelope was addressed to General D. H. Hill. Due to confusion between General Lee's and General T. J. Jackson's headquarters over Hill's place in the chain of command, two copies of Special Orders No. 191 were sent to Hill. Hill received his copy from Jackson while the copy from Lee was lost.

McClellan's good fortune permitted him to move with a certainty he had never before displayed. Lee was puzzled by McClellan's uncharacteristic speed and took actions to protect his army until it could be concentrated. Later McClellan was criticized for not destroying Lee's army. Whatever criticism was due, it is unfair to argue that McClellan lost an opportunity presented to him by S. O. No. 191. By the time the Federals found the orders, they were already dated. Jackson was safely on the Confederate side of the Potomac and General James Longstreet could easily have crossed
The Maryland Campaign and Lost Orders Markers image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, June 2, 2006
2. The Maryland Campaign and Lost Orders Markers
the Potomac at Williamsport. Had Lee chosen to seek safety across the Potomac, the Union troops in the Catoctin Valley could not have prevented him from doing so. On September 12 even before learning of S. O. No. 191, McClellan issued orders that would lead to the Battle of South Mountain. These orders placed the vanguard of General Ambrose E. Burnside's troops in the Catoctin Valley on the 13th. McClellan's main force did not arrive at the foot of South Mountain until the 14th.

If the Lost Orders had never been found, the battles of South Mountain and Antietam still would have occurred and Lee's gamble in Maryland still would have failed. Lee's chance for success was lost, not because his orders were found, but because his army remained divided too long and McClellan moved faster than Lee expected.

This is your heritage. To learn about battlefield preservation and interpretation, ask your park rangers. • Donated to the people of the United States by Barton C. Allen, D.D.S of Texas.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Believe It or Not marker series.
Location. 39° 28.228′ N, 77° 37.045′ W. Marker is near Boonsboro, Maryland, in Washington County. Marker is at the intersection of Reno Monument Road and the Appalachian Trail, on the
Close Up of the Lost Orders image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, June 2, 2006
3. Close Up of the Lost Orders
Transcript is provided on this page. Or click on the image to zoom in to read the handwriting.
left when traveling west on Reno Monument Road. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Boonsboro MD 21713, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Maryland Campaign of 1862 (here, next to this marker); Deaths of Two Generals (here, next to this marker); The Battle for Fox’s Gap (a few steps from this marker); Near Here in Wise’s Field (a few steps from this marker); Stonewall Regiment (within shouting distance of this marker); Maj. Gen. Jesse L. Reno (within shouting distance of this marker); North Carolina (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Dahlgren Chapel (approx. 0.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Boonsboro.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Lost Special Orders 191 markers
Also see . . .
1. The Blue and Gray Education Society. (Submitted on July 22, 2006.)
2. Lee's Lost Orders. From Tim Harrison's The American Civil War website. (Submitted on July 23, 2006.) 

3. Who Found the Lost Orders, and Who Lost Them?. This page has excerpts from Wilbur D. Jones’ Giants in the Cornfield: The 27th Indiana Infrantry, including many illustrations. (Submitted on July 23, 2006.) 
Additional comments.
1. Special Orders No.
Five Markers Grouped Together image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, June 2, 2006
4. Five Markers Grouped Together
This marker is the right-most marker. The Reno monument is out-of-frame to the left. The pavement you see is the Appalachian Trail, which at this point shares a narrow roadway to the North Carolina South Mountain Monument.

Transcript of The Lost Orders

HdQrs. Army of Northern Va
September 9th, 1862

Special Orders
No. 191

III. The army will resume its march to-morrow, taking the Hagerstown road. Gen. Jackson's command will form the advance, and, after passing Middletown, with such portion as he may select, take the route toward Sharpsburg, cross the Potomac at the most convenient point, and by Friday morning take possession of the Baltimore and Ohio R.R., capture such of the enemy as may be at Martinsburg, and intercept such as may attempt to Escape from Harpers Ferry.

IV. Gen. Longstreet's command will pursue the main road as far as Boonsboro, where it will halt, with reserve, supply, and baggage trains of the army.

V. Gen. McLaws, with his own division and that of General R. H. Anderson, will follow General Longstreet. On reaching Middletown will take the route to Harper's Ferry, and by Friday morning possess himself of the Maryland heights and Endeavor to capture the enemy at Harper's Ferry and vicinity.

VI. Gen. Walker, with his division, after acc.[accomplishing] the object in which he is now engaged,will cross the Potomac at Cheek's ford, ascend its right bank to Lovettsville, take possession of Loudoun Heights, if Practicable, by Friday morning, Keys Ford on his left, and the road between the
Another View of this Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, June 2, 2006
5. Another View of this Marker
end of the mountain and the Potomac on his right. He will, as far as practicable, Cooperate with Gen. McLaws and Gen. Jackson, and intercept retreat of the Enemy.

VII. Gen. D. H. Hill's division will form the rear guard of the army, pursuing the road taken by the main body. The reserve artillery, ordnance, and supply trains will precede Gen. Hill.

VIII. Gen. Stuart will detach a squadron of Cavalry to accompany the Commands of Gens. Longstreet, Jackson, and McLaws, and with the main body of the Cavalry, will cover the route of the Army, bringing up all stragglers that may have been left behind.

IX. The commands of Gen. Jackson, McLaws, and Walker, after accomplishing the objects for which they have been detached, will join the main body of the Army at Boonsboro or Hagerstown.

X. Each Regiment on the march will habitually carry its axes in the regimental ordnance wagons, for use of the men at their encampments, to procure wood, &c.

By command of Gen. R. E. Lee
Assistant A. General

For Maj Gen. D. H. Hill, Command Division
    — Submitted July 23, 2006, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.

Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,861 times since then and 506 times this year. Last updated on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. Photos:   1. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   2. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   3. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   4, 5. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement