Following the Road to Special Order #191

October 6, 2019

A 2019 BGES Day of History Program

Special Order 191
Courtesy US National Park Service

With dramatic swiftness, Robert E. Lee moved the focus of the Civil War from Northern Virginia into Maryland, where he and the Confederate government sought to capitalize on the success of the Army of Northern Virginia. The plan was to liberate Maryland and bring the war to the north, in hopes of enticing the European powers to intervene. Unfortunately, western Maryland did not flock to his banners, and Lee quickly decided to take the war into Pennsylvania. To do so, he needed to clear his lines of communications, which would be blocked by a large Federal garrison at Harpers Ferry. His detailed plans fell into the hands of Union Gen. George McClellan, changing the complexion of the forthcoming operations. Join us as we follow Lee’s army and McClellan’s reaction to the move north across the Potomac River and to the campsite where a copy of the orders were found. An exciting and provocative look at the risks and rewards of this “Who done it?” controversy.



Gloria Swift was born in Washington, D.C. to parents who were very interested in Civil War history. On Sundays, her father would pile the family into the car and off they would go to a battlefield. She remembers telling her father, “Oh Daddy, this is boring,” but something must have rubbed off because she graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in American history. Specializing in military history and the Civil War, Gloria pursued an exciting career for over 30 years with the National Park Service as an interpretive park ranger conducting tours and as a museum curator, working on two museum renovations. She has worked at Gettysburg National Military Park, the C&O Canal National Historical Park, Monocacy National Battlefield, and Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, in addition to others. She took the opportunity for an early retirement from the National Park Service in December 2014. Residing in Frederick, Maryland, she currently works part-time for Blue and Gray Education Society (BGES) as the membership coordinator and travel associate on the history tours. She is also the creator and editor of the BGES membership quarterly newsletter, “Along the Monocacy.”