T  H  E    L  O  S  T     O  R  D  E  R     M  Y  S  T  E  R  Y

aswhome.gif (708 bytes)


      Could it be that the Civil War's greatest piece of intelligence, Lee's Special Orders 191, was deliberately passed into Union hands?

Such is the thesis of the -- and it is just that -- a thesis based upon intriguing facts and events that are postulated to stimulate a discussion around this controversial and most important event.

     Welcome to the Lost Order Mystery Website where the circumstances surrounding the pivotal event of the American Civil War are analyzed, discussed, and developed with the assistance of you, the Internet visitor.   Travel back in time as we explore this most significant and mysterious episode of the war.

The Lost Order Mystery Synopsis
The Strange Case of Robert Hall Chilton
A Short Biography of Robert Hall Chilton
Chilton's Suspicious Gaffes
The Text of Special Orders 191
The Lost Order Mystery Home Page


The purpose of this position is to draw out responses from you, the visitors to this site, where evidence for or against this site's thesis is accumulated.

      The story of Special Orders 191 became of particular interest to me when I discovered that the characters involved its writing, discovery, and verification (Robert Chilton, Alpheus Williams and Samuel Pittman) all knew each other in Detroit (my home city) in the 1850's.

    That such a crucial piece of information, upon which the fate of the United States hung, should coincidentally happen to fall into the hands of friends who could immediately and positively identify the signature of its writer struck me as both highly unlikely and suspicious.

      These suspicions led me to first examine the many references to the incident, which in turn caused me to more closely examine the signer of the order, Robert Hall Chilton, by looking up all references to him in Freeman's monumental study of Southern Command, Lee's Lieutenants.

      What I found was not complimentary.  In fact, every instance where he makes an appearance, his actions have negative results for the South thus deepening my suspicions.

      Here are lines of my investigation :

  • What is known about Robert Chilton?
  • What was the pre-war relationship among Williams, Pittman, and Chilton?
  • What are the details about when the order was lost and found?
  • Who handled the order?
  • Where is the actual order today?
  • Why has treason never been considered as a possible reason for the order falling into Union hands?

Read the results »


Since the launch of this site in the early days of the World Wide Web in 1995 many other bits of information and points of view have emerged.

  • Joe Ryan's Special Order 191: Ruse of War is an outstanding and well documented thesis that makes a compelling argument that the Lost Order was deliberately passed to the Union to confuse George McClellan and draw him into battle on a field of Lee's choosing -- Antietam.

  • Who Lost the Lost Order? research by Steve Russell and written Wilbur D. Jones, author of "Giants in the Cornfield" [a history of the 27th Indiana Regiment in whose rank the order was found] argues that it was lost by Kyd Douglas.


1x1tran.gif (43 bytes)interact.gif (462 bytes)

Created and designed by Lowell Boileau