Special Order No. 191: A Huge Chance-Discovery and a Wasted Opportunity

By | August 21, 2018

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Confederate infantry re-enactors participate in the Battle of Bloody Lane during an event to mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam September 15, 2012 in Sharpsburg, Maryland. The Battle of Antietam was fought on September 17, 1862 and was t

One of history’s most serendipitous moments occurred on September 13, 1862, as the Civil War raged. Two Union soldiers stumbled upon a piece of paper detailing the Confederate’s battle plans. This chance discovery could have altered the outcome of the war. It no doubt would have if the commanding officer for the Union had not hesitated too long, wasting any opportunity to capitalize on the discovered plans. Here is how this story of found plans and lost chances played out. 

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Battle Plans were Found Wrapped Around Three Cigars

Soldiers from the 27th Indiana regiment took a break in a field near Frederick, Maryland, on September 13, 1862. It was clear that the Confederates had recently camped in that same meadow. Two soldiers, Sergeant John Bloss and Corporal Barton W. Mitchell, were wandering through the camp when they spied a bundle on the ground. It was three cigars, loosely wrapped in paper. No doubt they were excited to get their hands on the cigars, but what they found on the paper was much more valuable.