Special Order 191 (also Special Order No. 191, the "Lost Dispatch," and the "Lost Order") was a military order issued by Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee in the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War. A lost copy of this order was recovered in Frederick County, Maryland, by Union Army troops, and the subsequent military intelligence gained by the Union played an important role in the Battle of Antietam.

Special Orders 191 in Southern VictoryEdit

Special Orders 191 were the marching orders issued by General Robert E. Lee and drafted by Colonel Robert Chilton for the Army of Northern Virginia during its Philadelphia campaign in the fall of 1862. The orders were risky as they called for each division of the army to march through a different stretch of enemy territory alone while the Army of the Potomac was nearby. However, Lee correctly predicted that the Union commander, George McClellan, would be too slow and timid to challenge the Confederates even if he knew of their diffuse marching order, which he did not.

On September 10, 1862, a courier riding with a copy of these orders from ANV Headquarters to Daniel Harvey Hill's divisional headquarters dropped the orders, which he'd packaged in a case of three cigars, outside of Frederick, Maryland. They were recovered by two Confederate infantrymen who returned them to him. Frederick was soon overrun by Union forces. Had the orders been left behind, they may have been captured by the Union, though in all likelihood McClellan would still have been too timid to take advantage of them.