Barton Mitchell Top 10 List.


One of the trip’s goals was to learn as much as we could about Barton Mitchell, the person, and his role in discovering Lost Orders 191. Day 7 began when we, on our way to Gettysburg, backtracked to Frederick, Maryland to see the location where Mitchell found the Lost Orders. During our visit to the Monocacy Battlefield Park Museum, the Park Rangers shared more about Mitchell that eventually led to our group speaking with one of Mitchell’s descendants.

The following is a Top Ten List of facts we learned about Mitchell and related historic sites.

10. Barton Mitchell and the 27th Indiana were sent to New York City to quell that city’s Draft Riots directly from the Gettysburg battlefield.

lost 191 display

This display board at Monocacy uses primary source evidence to prove the 3 cigars we placed at Mitchell’s gravesite were incorrect. Sorry, Barton.

9. Historical evidence in Indiana, the Library of Congress Civil War Exhibit, and Maryland Battlefield Museums strongly supports that Mitchell discovered the Lost Orders and they were wrapped around 2 cigars, not 3.

8.  Despite claims from fellow soldiers years after the war, Mitchell was literate which means he would have been able to read the Lost Orders and identify their importance. Evidence of his literacy includes his job as town Post Master before the war and copies of written letters by him shown to us at Monocacy Battlefield.

7. Mitchell sought reimbursement from the federal government for his role in discovering the Lost Orders (Personal Letters).

6. It is believed Mitchell’s current Hartsville headstone was ordered for the grave by William Ansel Mitchell, Barton’s son. There is no exact date for when that might have been done but it was shortly before the son died around 1950 (Harry McCawley).

5. Research conducted by the Park Rangers at Monocacy National Battlefield suggests the Lost Orders were discovered approximately a mile north of their site near an existing cement plant.

The use of historic maps and letters indicate this was the approximate location where Mitchell discovered the Lost Orders.

The use of historic maps and letters indicate this was the approximate location where Mitchell discovered the Lost Orders.

4. Mitchell suffered a severe calf wound in Antietam’s Cornfield which was described by a comrade as “The most desperate ever fought.” He spent 8 months recovering in hospitals as far away as Philadelphia, probably suffering from an infection (Hartsville Memorial Day, Gordan Dammann, Conversation with Descendant).

3. Barton and one other soldier were regarded as the two Abolitionists of their regiment (Monocacy Battlefield Park).

2. Mitchell had to walk with a cane when he returned from his injury (at Antietam’s Cornfield) and must have been in severe discomfort when he charged Confederates near Culp’s Hill July 3rd at Gettysburg. He eventually accepted a demotion to become a stretcher bearer and was mustered out of the army while fighting in the western theater of war near Atlanta (Monocacy Battlefield, Conversation with Descendant).

Mitchell, hobbling from his wound at Antietam charged this open field at Gettysburg.

Mitchell, hobbling from his wound at Antietam, charged from the monument in the background but his regiment only advanced to the small marker in the foreground at Gettysburg. 4 flag bearers were killed and 4 more were wounded in this failed attack.

1. Mitchell’s memory is important to his family descendants and residents in Hartsville, Indiana. 

  • The repeated “thank you’s” from local Hartsville residents to us for participating in the Memorial Day service speak to the significance they still hold for him and his role in the Civil War.
  • The current Mitchell sign in Hartsville is actually the town’s second marker and the people banded together for its posting. The first sign to Mitchell was placed in 1963 for the war’s centennial but stated Mitchell discovered the Lost Orders in 1863. The sign with mistake included, remained in place until 1992 when a wonderful character named Homer Hargrave, a former Chicago advertising executive who had moved to Columbus, noticed the error and decided to by-pass government bureaucracy to get it fixed. He did it in fun fashion. He re-created the 27th Indiana Volunteers and sold commissions to those who joined. The rank the donors were awarded was based on the amount they donated. He raised more than $1,000 for the new sign and it was put in place in late April of 1992. 
  • Mitchell’s family descendant was incredible to speak to. He perhaps more than any other event or source, made Mitchell come to life for me. For example, he shared that his grandfather called Mitchell, Warren. Those little facts and his personal/familial reflections allowed Mitchell to rise off the pages and step through the monuments after following him around our Civil War Adventure.
speaker phone 2

Perhaps the highlight of the trip when it came to Mitchell was receiving a phone call from his great-great grandson. I am holding a speaker phone second from right as we talked to this descendent roadside in Pennsylvania. The relative will hopefully visit my Civil War class this coming school year.

4 thoughts on “Barton Mitchell Top 10 List.

  1. Pingback: Day 8: Gettysburg in 1 Day? Yikes! | HistoricaLese

  2. Can you share the name of the relative of Mitchell’s that you spoke with? I am an ardent supporter of the view that Mitchell, not John Bloss, actually found the order and carried it to Colgrove, though Bloss as his sgt accompanied him. I understand the Mitchell relatives claim to possess a letter written by Colgrove in 1867 certifying that it was Mitchell, not Bloss, who found and delivered the document to him.

    Joe Ryan

    • Hi Joe,

      I am not aware of a letter by Colgrove but the family does have a letter written by Mitchell himself that fits your timeframe of 1867. In the letter to Robert Schench (Robert C. Schenck?), Mitchell appears to be gathering written support that indeed, he was responsible for finding the Lost Orders. He writes that his goal is “to petition congress to renumirate me for this service.” Mitchell goes on to claim “I have Col. Colgroves certificate seting forth the facts as above stated.” My hunch is that this reference from Mitchell is what you are referring to. That said, I will forward you the family member’s information as it would be fascinating to read Colgrove’s account if they do have it. I am sure you will find the contact very accommodating and informative. What has led you to be interested in this particular subject and what leads you to believe it was Mitchell? Thank you very much for posting the question! Chris

  3. Pingback: MUHS Civil War Southern Summer Adventure Itinerary | HistoricaLese

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