Sunday, September 16, 2012

Invasion orders found wrapped around cigars in field led to bloodiest day in U.S. history

When dawn broke along Antietam Creek on Sept. 17, 1862, cannon volleys launched a Civil War battle that would leave 23,000 casualties on the single bloodiest day in U.S. history and mark a crucial pivot point in the war.

And yet it might never have occurred - if not for what a historian calls a "freakish" twist of fate. Days earlier, a copy of Gen. Robert E. Lee's detailed invasion orders, wrapped around a few cigars, accidentally fell in a farm field and were discovered by Union infantrymen who passed their stunning find up the chain of command, spurring action.