Special Order 191

One of the most important documents in American history, now in the collection of the National Archives, may have changed the course of the Civil War. Apparently left behind by some unknown Confederate officer, Special Order 191 was found, wrapped around three cigars, by a Union corporal on Sept. 13, 1861; it contained details of Robert E. Lee's planned troop movements as he began his invasion of Maryland to spread the conflict into the North. Four days later, Union Gen. George B. McClellan fought Lee to a draw at the Battle of Antietam and thwarted the invasion, a success that would embolden President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
Library of Congress/Baltimore Sun
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