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Despite advice from his corps commanders to withdraw during the night of the 17th, Lee said Mc Clellan would not attack the next day and remained in place until withdrawing on the night of the 18th.

Such Union pursuit as there was ended in a sharp skirmish just south of the Potomac at Shepherdstown, in what is now West Virginia.

The firing elsewhere on the field had died down, but Burnside’s IX Corps was advancing on Sharpsburg in Lee’s rear. The Light Division fell upon Burnside’s flank, disordering his men and convincing the cautious Union officer that he’d done enough for one day. Fitz-John Porter’s V Corps, plus a division of the VI Corps, in reserve.

Lee informed his commanders of their routes and objectives in Order No. In a series of events too strange to be believable in fiction, a copy of Order No. Whatever his flaws as a field commander, "Little Mac" was an organizer who had the confidence of his troops.

191 was used to bundle a few cigars and the bundle was inadvertently dropped in a field on the Best Farm, where it was found by Federal soldiers of the 27th Indiana Regiment. On September 12, the Army of Virginia was disbanded and absorbed into the Army of the Potomac, with Mc Clellan as the commander—John Pope was sent to Minnesota to fight Indians— and he had the army ready for action sooner than Lee had anticipated.

Over 22,000 Americans lay dead or wounded or were among the missing: the highest single-day casualty total of the Civil War.

Homes, stores, churches and barns for miles around were turned into hospitals and the resulting diseases claimed a heavy toll among the civilians in and around Sharpsburg.

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The benefits of the intelligence windfall that dropped into Mc Clellan’s hands were blunted, however, because a Southern sympathizer informed Lee that Mc Clellan had a copy of his orders, and because Mc Clellan moved with his typical glacial pace.

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