This put an end to the famous battle, the result of which, to McClellan
, was defeat and disaster, but to Lee
the crown of victory, against a great disparity of numbers, in a series of stubborn combats that had lasted from before daylight until dark.
The battles and marches of the preceding months had greatly depleted Lee
's army, and his wounded, footsore, and straggling men were strung all along through Virginia
to the Potomac
, so that he could bring but 35,000 wearied, half-clad and half-starved men into the battle of Sharpsburg
; against these, McClellan
had hurled 60,000 well-equipped, well-fed and wellcared-for men, while 27,000 more were held in full view and could have been thrown into the contest.
Four of his corps were not only routed, but scattered; and he could not collect them to renew the battle.
was a stand-up, hand-to-hand fight, as brave and furious as any the world ever saw, and the Confederate
soldiers had in it proved themselves more than a match, in a fair and open conflict, for their Federal foes.
The losses on both sides indicate the nature of the struggle.
Of the Southern
men,8,000, one-fourth of Lee
's army, lay dead or wounded upon the field: regiments, and even brigades, had fought almost to annihilation.1 McClellan
's losses were some 12,500.
The living of both armies, as the sounds of battle died away, sunk to profound slumber, such as only follows a day of battle, in the very lines where they had fought and amid the horrors of the carnage of the bloody battlefield.
At nightfall Lee
held the line of the Hagerstown turnpike
and of the road leading south from Sharpsburg
, and the line on his left which Jackson
had chosen, before the battle, as the one he would hold; and his unconquerable veterans were ready to renew the combat at his word of command.
The Federals had really gained and held no advantages of position.
Col. Stephen D. Lee
, the Confederate chief of artillery
, stated, to the writer, that an hour after dark, on the 17th, Lee
summoned his division commanders to meet him at his headquarters in the wood in the rear of Sharpsburg
, and as each came up, he quietly asked him: ‘How is it ’