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Ran 2002 PT cruiser w/ out coolant/water, overheated but temp gauge showed normal.

I did a radiator flush, refilled the radiator with water and cleaner, and drove for about 10 minutes. Because I was trying to get my car to temp so the fans and water-pump would kick in I was keeping and eye on the temp gauge. After a few minutes I noticed I was loosing power, but my temp gauge was not even going up half way. I made it home, with the temp still reading normal, but with the car obviously overheating. I added water, and found that the radiator plug had come out, so I was driving without coolant/water. So my question is how bad is the damage probably? Also why didn't I see the temp gauge rising? I notice that the thermostat housing is near the radiator cap. Is sufficient coolant required to transfer heat to the thermostat for it to work?