1863 General Orders No. 186 - Winfield Scott Hancock Promoted to Command of 2nd Corps

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1863 General Orders No. 186 - Winfield Scott Hancock Promoted to Command of 2nd Corps


Item #SQ9679548

Offered here is an interesting document from the Civil War. General Orders such as these were printed and distributed to the various commands as a way of spreading official information to the troops. This one, General Order No. 186, came under the War Department header and is dated June 24, 1863 from Washington.

The single-page circular had two short announcements, the second of which was to prove critical in the Battle of Gettysburg, which was only days away from the date of the order's issue. The order reads:

I.. By direction of the President, that part of the Middle Department west of Hancock, including the adjacent counties of Ohio, will constitute the Department of West Virginia.

Brigadier General B. F. Kelley is placed in command of the Department of West Virginia.

II.. Major General W. S. Hancock, United States Volunteers, is, by direction of the President, assigned to the command of the Second Army Corps, in place of Major General D. N. Couch, transferred to another command.

By order of the Secretary of War:

E. D. Townsend,
Assistant Adjutant General.

While Benjamin Franklin Kelley and Darius Couch would fade into obscurity, Winfield Scott Hancock's star was rising. He would command the 2nd Corps nearly through the end of the war.

General Orders such as these were often printed in the field by the Army's portable printing presses that began operation in 1863. Documents were also printed in local Virginia print shops near the Army, and in larger print shops in Washington and other cities. For more fascinating information about the Army of the Potomac's printing processes, click here.

The circular measures about 5" x 7 1/2". The paper is in excellent sturdy condition, not stiff, and not particularly delicate. Light wear to corners and edges. It has a vertical fold going down the center of the document.

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