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[278] division of D. H. Hill crossed the South Mountain and moved toward Boonsboro. General Stuart with the cavalry remained east of the mountains to observe the enemy and retard his advance. Longstreet continued his march to Hagerstown, and Hill halted near Boonsboro to support the cavalry and to prevent the force invested at Harpers Ferry from escaping through Pleasant Valley. The advance of the hostile army was then so slow as to justify the belief that the reduction of Harpers Ferry would be accomplished and our troops concentrated before they would be called upon to meet the foe. In that event it had not been intended to oppose his passage through South Mountain, as it was desired to engage him as far as possible from his base. But a copy of Lee's order directing the movement of the army from Frederick, happening to fall into the hands of McClellan, disclosed to him the disposition of our forces. He immediately began to push forward rapidly, and on the afternon of the 13th was reported approaching the pass in South Mountain on the Boonsboro and Frederick road. General Stuart's cavalry impeded his progress, and time was thus gained for preparations to oppose his advance.

In Taylor's Four Years with General Lee some facts relative to this lost order are stated. An order of battle was issued, stating in detail the position and duty assigned to each command of the army:

It was the custom to send copies of such orders, marked ‘confidential,’ to the commanders of separate corps or divisions only, and to place the address of such separate commander in the bottom left-hand corner of the sheet containing the order. General D. H. Hill was in command of a division which had not been attached to nor incorporated with either of the two wings of the Army of Northern Virginia. A copy of the order was, therefore, in the usual course, sent to him. After the evacuation of Frederick City by our forces, a copy of General Lee's order was found in a deserted camp by a soldier, and was soon in the hands of General McClellan. The copy of the order, it was stated at the time, was addressed to ‘General D. H. Hill, commanding division.’ General Hill has assured me that it could not have been his copy, because he still has the original order received by him in his possession.1

General D. H. Hill guarded the Boonsboro Gap, and Longstreet was ordered to support him, in order to prevent a force from penetrating the mountains at this point, in the rear of McLaws, so as to relieve the

1 To these remarks Colonel W. H. Taylor adds the following note: ‘Colonel Venable, one of my associates on the staff of General Lee, says in regard to this matter: “This is very easily explained. One copy was sent directly to Hill from headquarters. General Jackson sent him a copy, as he regarded Hill in his command. It is Jackson's copy, in his own handwriting, which General Hill has. The other was undoubtedly left carelessly by some one at Hill's quarters.” ’ Says General McClellan, ‘Upon learning the contents of this order, I at once gave orders for a vigorous pursuit.’—General McClellan's testimony, ‘Report on the Conduct of the War,’ Part I, p. 440.

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D. H. Hill (10)
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