previous next


Lee locks the gates Sharpsburg, Maryland, September 17, 1862. There were long minutes on that sunny day in the early fall of 1862 when Robert E. Lee, at his headquarters west of Sharpsburg, must have been in almost entire ignorance of how the battle went. Outnumbered he knew his troops were; outfought he knew they never would be. Longstreet, Hood, D. B. Hill, Evans, and D. R. Jones had turned back more than one charge in the morning; but, as the day wore on, Lee perceived that the center must be held. Sharpsburg was the key. He had deceived McClellan as to his numerical strength and he must continue to do so. Lee had practically no reserves at all. At one time General Longstreet reported from the center to General Chilton, Lee's Chief of Staff, that Cooke's North Carolina regiments--till keeping its colors at the front — had not a cartridge left. None but veteran troops could hold a line like this, supported by only two guns of Miller's battery of the Washington Artillery. Of this crisis in the battle General Longstreet wrote afterward: “We were already badly whipped and were holding our ground by sheer force of desperation.” Actually in line that day on the Confederate side were only 37,000 men, and opposed to them were numbers that could be footed up to 50,000 more. At what time in the day General Lee must have perceived that the invasion of Maryland must come to an end cannot be told. He had lost 20,000 of his tired, footsore army by straggling on the march, according to the report of Longstreet, who adds: “Nearly one-fourth of the troops who went into the battle were killed or wounded.” At dark Lee's rearward movement had begun.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Sharpsburg (Maryland, United States) (3)
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Robert E. Lee (7)
James Longstreet (4)
Miller (1)
George B. McClellan (1)
D. R. Jones (1)
Hood (1)
D. B. Hill (1)
N. G. Evans (1)
Cooke (1)
Chilton (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
September 17th, 1862 AD (1)
1862 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: