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5740a mystery to solve

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  • Thomas Clemens
    Jun 10, 2009
      Going over Carman's manuscript, Chap. 10, p. 576-77, I am stumped by a statement he makes that I cannot reference. Please read the following excerpt:

      At the hour this dispatch [ This dispatch was written 8:45 Sept. 15 and is found in OR 51.1:835-6] was penned McClellan prepared an order to Franklin to communicate with Burnside at the intersection of the Rohrersville and Boonsboro roads, and if the intelligence of the retreat of the enemy towards Shepherdstown Ford was confirmed to push on with his whole command (cautiously keeping up communications with Burnside), to Sharpsburg, and endeavor to fall upon the enemy and cut off his retreat, and to use his cavalry with the utmost vigor in following up the pursuit. There was not a word in the dispatch regarding McLaws' force in front and a strict obedience to the instructions contained in it would have been the abandonment
      [p. 577]
      of Pleasant Valley to McLaws and permission for him to retire unmolested and at his leisure, which, later, he actually did, with Franklin still in his front.
      Franklin asserts that he never received this order. We know that he did not act upon it. But, apparently, he did receive this or a similar order by the hands of Captain O'Keeffe, after he had made an examination of McLaws' position, and this he answered at 11 a. m.:
      I have received your dispatch by Captain O'Keeffe. The enemy is in large force in my front, in two lines of battle stretching across the valley, and a large column of artillery and infantry on the right of the valley looking toward Harper's Ferry. They outnumber me two to one. It will, of course, not answer to pursue the enemy under these circumstances. I shall communicate with Burnside as soon as possible. In the mean time I shall wait here until I learn what is the prospect of re-enforcement. I have not the force to justify an attack on the force I see in front. I have had a very close view of it, and its position is very strong.

      O'Keefe was a staff officer for McClellan. The question is WHERE AND WHEN did Franklin deny receiving this order. I have looked at his OR reports, and a lot of other sources. The only thing I can think of, and it is not very solid, is Franklin's statement in Battles & Leaders Vol. II p. 596 that he stayed in Pleasant Valley from the morning of the 15th to the evening of the 16th "without any orders from McClellan." Does anyone know of anything else?

      Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
      Professor of History
      Hagerstown Community College
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