On September 15, Robert E. Lee stationed his 30,000 soldiers on some four miles of rising terrain behind Antietam Creek. He used the protection of rock outcroppings, rolling hills, stone walls, standing corn fields, and a sunk road in the middle of his rows. Two days before, a Union corporal discovered a copy of Lee's special orders bundled around three cigars. Yet Gen. George McClellan declined to respond because he felt that Lee 's troops outnumbered his own. When McClellan began deploying his troops on September 16, he had 60,000 active soldiers and 15,000 in reserve. If he had sent his full force to the Confederate on September 15 or 16, he would have crushed Lee's army. The war started early in the morning of September 17, when Union soldiers under General Joseph Hooker struck Stonewall Jackson's armies through the cornfield between them. The battle was vicious. The fighting went back and forth 15 times around the cornfield, killing nine generals on either side. Within five hours, 12,000 soldiers were dead or injured, and weary opponents stopped fighting for the day. By midday, the fight had changed to a sunken country road between two fields. Two Confederate Brigades constantly remained on their side while Union troops struck and fell back. At the end of the day, Union attackers assumed a position from which they could shoot down Confederate soldiers blocking the lane. It was soon packed with the dead and dying, often two to three deep. The road earned a new name: Bloody Lane. The Confederates fell back, and McClellan again had the chance to split Lee 's army in two and kill it. Yet McClellan did not carry through, so the battlefield became quiet. This day in history is the bloodiest day America has ever faced. More than 22,000 troops were dead, wounded, or missing — more than all such losses during the whole American Revolution. Lee lost a fifth of his army; the soldiers returned to Virginia the next week. The terror of Antietam appeared to be one of the most important incidents of the battle. Lee and Davis were not victorious. Neither Britain nor France was able to accept the Confederacy. Five days after the war, Lincoln issued his Preliminary Proclamation of Emancipation. On November 5, Lincoln, dissatisfied with McClellan's delay, stripped him of his orders and substituted him with General Ambrose Burnside.