Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Frederick H. Meserve Collection of Americana, c. 1862

The Gray Fox

On the night of September 18, Confederate General Robert E. Lee quietly withdrew his battered forces from Antietam back into Virginia. His escape deeply disappointed Lincoln, who thought Union General McClellan should have seized the opportunity to destroy the rebel army. Nonetheless, Lincoln considered Antietam enough of a victory to issue the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.