It's part of the 150th Anniversary of the 1862 Maryland Campaign.
The famous "Lost Orders" will be on display at the Monocacy National Battlefield Visitors Center from Wednesday, August 1st to Wednesday, October 31st. This display of this historic document commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the Maryland Campaign of the Civil War in 1862, which includes the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam.
Known formally as "Special Orders 191," they were written by Confederate General Robert E. Lee on September 9th, 1862, while his army was camped at the Best Farm, which is now part of the Monocacy National Battlefield. They explained how Lee was to divide up his Army of Northern Virginia into four. The troops would take Martinsburg, Harpers Ferry and Boonsboro, while Lee would head to Hagerstown.
However, a copy of the orders to be delivered to Major General Daniel Hill was lost. They were discovered by Union soldiers with Company F, 27th Indiana Volunteers on September 13th. "With the finding of the order, and the fact that Harpers Ferry took a little longer to fall than the Confederates anticipated, sort of precipitated the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam," says Park Ranger Tracy Evans. "Antietam probably wouldn't have been the Battle of Antietam. It probably would have been a little further north when Lee would have been able to reconsolidate his army and take them further north." But Evans did not want to speculate as to whether the results would have been different if "Special Orders 191" had not fallen into Union hands.
The most popular story told about the "Lost Orders" is that they were found wrapped in cigars. "However, that is not true," says Evans. She says soldiers Barton Mitchell and John Bloss found the orders and turned them over to their superiors. They reached Colonel Silas Colgrove. "Now, when he got them, they may have been wrapped in cigars," says Evans. "But when they were found, they were found in an envelop." The cigars were also inside the envelop, according to the Monocacy National Battlefield website.
The Maryland Campaign of 1862 is normally associated with South Mountain, near Middletown, and Antietam in Washington County. So why are the "Special Orders" on display at Monocacy National Battlefield? "The orders were written here, and they were found here," Evans says. "So it's appropriate that they be on display where they were written."
In addition to the orders, Evans says some artifacts from the two soldiers who found the orders will also be on display.
The Monocacy National Battlefield Visitors Center is open everyday from 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM.