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Who Wrote The Lost Order? Not Venable or Stuart


 
 
From Venable’s letter to General McLaws dated September 14, 1862
 
   
 
From the Lost Order
Lost Order
 
 
From the Lost Order (another example)



 
 
From Venable’s letter to McLaws:


From the Lost Order (Hagerstown)
 
     
 

From Venable’s letter to McLaws:

 

 

 

 






From  the Lost Order:

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Venable’s letter to McLaws:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Lost Order:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Venable’s letter to McLaws:

 

 
     
 

A comparison of Venable’s authenicated handwriting (His letter to McLaws) with the Lost Order reveals distinct differences in style of writing and letter formation. The most obvious difference is the way Venable’s writing appears elongated, spread out, while the writing of the Lost Order appears compacted. However, the issue is for the viewer to decide.

 

Assuming that at least a two thirds majority of viewers agree that Venable’s handwriting is not a probable match for that of the Lost Order, the analysis must turn to the issue of whether JEB Stuart, or General Lee, is the writer of the Lost Order.

 

From Stuart’s 1864 field note to Lee (“cross at DavenportBridge ”):

 

 

From the Lost Order:

 






From Stuart’s 1864 field notes:

 

 
     
 

From the Lost Order:

 








From Stuart’s 1864 field notes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Lost Order:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From The Lost Order:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Stuart’s 1864 field notes:

 

 

 

 

 


 



From Stuart’s 1864 field notes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

Another example:

 

 

 

 

From the Lost Order (road)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another example:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another exampe:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart’s 1864 field notes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another example:

 

 

 

 

 
     
 

The comparison seems to rule Stuart out as the writer of the Lost Order, but the call is with the viewer.

 

With Stuart eliminated from the case, General Lee’s handwriting becomes the focus of the analysis. On or about September 1, 1862 , just after the Second Battle of Bull Run, General Lee in some way injured his hands. That an injury of some kind occurred at that time and that, as a consequence, he could not write with his hands is the position he took with his daughter, when, on September 13th from Hagerstown , he had someone answer her letter with “can’t write with his hands.” In October 1862 he wrote his wife, telling her his hand injury (undefined) was now gone.

 

Several versions of his accident are given by writers, including Walter Taylor and A.L. Long. In substance, the story is that, pn September 1, 1862 , General Lee was standing on the ground next to his horse, Traveller, holding the reins in one of his hands. Traveller became suddenly startled, and jerked his head, perhaps sidling or lunging in some matter away. Lee gained control, but in the process apparently fell to the ground, front forward, and landed on his hands. The nature and extent of his injuries are far from clear in the historical record. He probably sustained at least a sprain to one hand, perhaps to both hands, and may have suffered a fractured finger; which hand and which finger is unknown. By September 9th, any swelling in the hand or wrist would have subsided significantly.

 

Obviously, in the trial of the case, the issue of whether Lee’s injury incapacitated him from writing with a pencil may be proven by demonstrating that, in fact, Lee wrote the Lost Order.

 

The word “conspiracy” does not reasonably apply to the process whereby Lee and Jackson engaged in planning battles. If Lee designed the Lost Order as a ruse of war, he would naturally want to restrict knowledge of that fact to his closest and most trusted confidant, Stonewall Jackson. In the event the resulting battle went badly for the rebel side, General Lee’s army severely beaten and driven back by McClellan, perhaps destroyed, Lee would certainly not want it known by anyone not absolutely necessary to the ruse’s execution, that he had designed the ploy as the means to gain an extra day or two for Stonewall to capture Harper’s Ferry. Therefore, in the absence of  evidence showing someone among his staff wrote the Lost Order,  it is not unreasonable to expect that Lee wrote it himself, perhaps as the first draft. Jackson copied from the draft, and Lee dictated its text to someone, perhaps Charles Marshall, who wrote a different phrase than dictated into paragraph six which A.P. Mason then copied into Chilton’s letterbook.

 

If Lee wrote the Lost Order, those in his confidence would have been limited to Jackson and the civilian who planted it, probably Jackson ’s friend, Rev. Dr. John Ross.

 
     
     
 

Who wrote the Lost Order, General Lee?

 
     
 

Collected by Joseph Ryan

Who wrote the Lost Order?

Supporting Exhibits

Sharpsburg Campaign: Photo Album

Lee's Ruse of War: Special Order 191

Joe Ryan

Joe Ryan Original Works

@ AmericanCivilWar.com



 
About the author:
Joe Ryan is a Los Angeles trial lawyer who has traveled the route of the Army of Northern Virginia, from Richmond to Gettysburg several times.
 

American Civil War Exhibits