Saturday 13 September 1862 – Frederick and Middletown, Maryland

“All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don’t know from what you do.” – Duke of Wellington

 

Saturday 13 September 1862

Morning             

Private Oliver Case and the members of the 8th Connecticut are cheered again by the citizens as they leave Frederick. The regiment deploys skirmishers as they prepared to cross Braddock mountain outside of Frederick. They entered Middletown on the far side of the mountain taking up positions just before sundown. Although it appeared that they were close behind the enemy, there would be no serious engagement with the Confederates on this day.

Charles S. Buell of the 8th Connecticut described the day in his diary:

We started this morning from the city throwing out skirmishers in advance. At this time we have been winding our way up the mountain to make a flank movement probably. I am feeling quite well, with exception of the reumatism in my left leg. Our march today has been a rapid one pursuing the enemy close to their heels. The cavalry had a skirmish with the rear guard to their baggage.[i]

Captain Marsh confirms the action of the day:

Skirmishers were thrown out and we commenced ascending the mountain but up it we went and wound around to left again and down into another valley where came to another village called Middle Town but were not in time to get any rebel. Excepting stragglers as they discovering our movement skedadled…we had not rested more than hour before were marched out side town and formed in line of battle not knowing but enemy intended to attack us as they had driver in our cavalry but the night pass with out an alarm.[ii]

 

Union troops march through Middletown, Maryland, 13 September 1862

(from Harper’s Weekly, 25 October 1862)

 

In the larger context of the campaign, this was a highly significant day. Sometime before noon, Major General McClellan was presented a two page document purported to be a copy of Robert E. Lee’s battle plan known as Special Order 191. The document had been discovered that morning in a field outside of Frederick by soldiers of Company F, 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. The orders were wrapped around two cigars in an envelope and discovered on the ground near today’s Monocacy National Battlefield. McClellan’s staff quickly attested to the handwriting and signature of R. H. Chilton, Lee’s assistant adjutant general and by evening the general had issued marching orders for the following morning.

 

Page 2 of Special Order 191 detailing Lee’s plan for the Maryland Campaign

 


[i] Diary of Charles S. Buell, 8th Connecticut, as published on Antietam on the Web, http://antietam.aotw.org/exhibit.php?exhibit_id=369

[ii] Letters of Wolcott P. Marsh (unpublished), accessed from The Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers at Antietam website, http://home.comcast.net/~8cv/8cv-frame.html

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