A Time Line of the American Civil War
November 6, 1860- Abraham Lincoln is elected 16th President of the United States, the first Republican president, they oppose slavery in the territories of the United States. He is inaugurated in Washington, DC on March 4, 1861
December 20, 1860- South Carolina secedes from the Union. Six additional southern states secede from the Union in January 1861. Four more states secede in the coming months. The northwestern counties of Virginia break away and form West Virginia.
February 8-9, 1861- Secessionist states create the Confederate States of America at Montgomery, Alabama. Jefferson Davis is appointed the first President of the Confederate States of America. On February 22, 1862 he is formally inaugurated as President. Elections are never held.
April 12, 1861- Southern forces fire upon Fort Sumter, SC and the Civil War begins.
April 15, 1861- President Lincoln issues a public declaration of a rebellion and calls for 75,000 volunteer soldiers, later to be referred to as the "Minutemen of '61". In May, Lincoln calls for 43,000 volunteers to serve for three years in the Regular Army.
May 24, 1861- Union forces cross the Potomac River and occupy Arlington Heights. During the occupation of nearby Alexandria, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, 11th New York Infantry, is shot dead by the owner of the Marshall House just after removing a Confederate flag from its roof.
June 10, 1861- Battle of Big Bethel, Virginiaa, the first land battle of the war.
July 21, 1861- The Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas), is fought in Virginia. The Union Army under General Irwin McDowell initially succeeds, driving back Confederate forces under General PGT Beauregard, but the arrival of General Joseph E. Johnston's troops sends McDowell's army in a panicked retreat to the defenses of Washington. In this battle Thomas Jackson, receive the name "Stonewall".
August 10, 1861- Battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri. Union troops under General Nathaniel Lyon, attack Confederates southwest of Springfield, Missouri, the Union army is repulsed and Lyon is killed.
August 28-29, 1861- Fort Hatteras at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, falls to Union naval forces. The Union blockade of southern ports begins.
September 20, 1861- Lexington, Missouri falls to Confederate forces under Sterling Price.
October 21, 1861- Battle of Ball's Bluff, Virginia. Colonel Edward D. Baker, led troops across the Potomac River and beyond, only to be forced back to the river where he is killed. The Union withdrawal turns into a rout with soldiers drowning trying to re-cross the Potomac River.
January 19, 1862- Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky, a Union victory.
February 6, 1862- Surrender of Fort Henry, Tennessee. The loss of this southern fort on the Tennessee River allows the Union to control the river.
February 8, 1862- Battle of Roanoke Island, North Carolina. A Confederate defeat, the battle resulted in Union occupation of eastern North Carolina.
February 16, 1862- Surrender of Confederate Fort Donelson, Tennessee. This leaves the Cumberland River in Union hands. It was here that General Ulysses S. Grant gained his nickname "Unconditional Surrender".
March 7-8, 1862- Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), Arkansas. The Union victory loosens the Confederate hold on Missouri and control of the Mississippi River.
March 9, 1862- The naval battle between the ironclad USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimack), is fought in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
April 6-7, 1862- The Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing), the first major battle in Tennessee. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, considered one of the finest officers in the South, is killed on the first day. A Union victory by General Grant.
April 24-25, 1862- A Union fleet of gunships under Admiral David Farragut passes Confederate forts guarding the mouth of the Mississippi River. On April 25, the fleet arrived at New Orleans demanding the city surrender. Within two days the forts fell and the mouth of the river is in Union control.
May 25, 1862- First Battle of Winchester, Virginia. After two weeks of maneuvering and battles at Cross Keys and Front Royal, General "Stonewall" Jackson attacks Union forces at Winchester and successfully drives them from the city.
May 31 to June 1, 1862- The Battle of Seven Pines near Richmond, Virginia. General Joseph Johnston, Commanding the Confederate army in Virginia is wounded and replaced by Robert E. Lee who names his command the "Army of Northern Virginia".
June 6, 1862- Battle of Memphis, Tennessee. A Union flotilla under Commodore Charles Davis successfully defeats a Confederate river force on the Mississippi River near the city and Memphis surrenders. The city of Vicksburg stands as the last southern stronghold on the Mississippi.
June 25-July 1, 1862- The Seven Days' Battles before Richmond. General Lee's army attacks the "Army of the Potomac" under General George McClellan in a succession of battles beginning at Mechanicsville on June 26 and ending at Malvern Hill July 1.
August 30-31, 1862- The Battle of Second Bull Run (or Second Manassas) is fought on the same ground where the armies fought one year before, the battle is again Union defeat.
September 17, 1862- The Battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg), Maryland, the bloodiest single day in American history. The battle ends General Lee's invasion of the North.
December 13, 1862- The Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Army of the Potomac, under General Ambrose Burnside, is defeated by Lee's forces.
December 31-January 3, 1863- Battle of Stones River, Tennessee. Fought between the Union Army of the Cumberland under General William Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg, the costly Union victory freed middle Tennessee from the Confederates.
January 1, 1863- Lincoln issues The Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order freeing slaves in the Confederate States.
March 3, 1863- Conscription, the drafting, begins in the North. It had begun in the South the year before.
May 1-4, 1863- The Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia. General Lee's victory is marred by the wounding and death on May 10th of "Stonewall" Jackson.
May 18, 1863- Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi begins. Union forces under General Grant attack Confederate defenses outside the city and lay seige to the city itself.
June 9, 1863- The Battle of Brandy Station, Virginia. Union cavalry forces cross the Rapidan River to attack General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry and discover that Lee's men are moving west toward the Shenandoah Valley. The largest cavalry battle of the Civil War, and the beginning of the Gettysburg Campaign.
June 14-15, 1863- Battle of Second Winchester, Virginia. Confederate troops under General Richard Ewell defeat Union troops under General Robert Milroy, clearing the Shenandoah Valley of Union forces.
June 28, 1863- In Lee's Gettysburg Campaign, Confederates reach the bridge over the Susquehanna River at Columbia, but Union militia burn the bridge, denying access to the east shore. Southern cavalry skirmishes with Union militia near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
July 1-3- The Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The bloodiest battle of the Civil War ends Lee's hopes of ending the war through an invasion of the North. Lee retreats back to Virginia.
July 4- Vicksburg, Mississippi surrenders to Grants Army, Vicksburg loss gives the Union control of the Mississippi River
July 10-11, 1863- Union naval and land forces attack Confederate defenses near Charleston, SC. Among the Union troops is the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, the first African American regiment of volunteers to see combat.
July 13-16, 1863- Draft Riots begin in New York City over a draft system that favors the rich. Mobs attack the draft office and African American churches.
July 13-14, 1863- Near Falling Waters, Maryland, Union troops skirmish with Lee's rearguard as the Army of Northern Virginia crosses the Potomac River and the Gettysburg Campaign ends.
July 18, 1863- Second Assault on Battery Wagner, South Carolina. Leading the Union infantry charge is the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who is killed. He is left in a mass grave with the dead of his regiment.
August 21, 1863- Lawrence, Kansas is sacked in a murderous daylight raid by Missouri Confederate guerillas under William Quantrill. Approximately 150 men and boys are murdered.
September 9, 1863- Chattanooga, Tennessee, is occupied by Union forces under General William Rosecrans Army of the Cumberland.
September 19-20, 1863- The Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia. The Union Army of the Cumberland under General Rosecrans is defeated by the Confederate Army of Tennessee commanded by General Braxton Bragg. Rosecrans' army retreats to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
September – November 1863- The Siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Confederate forces under Braxton Bragg surround the occupied city. General Grant is assigned to command plans to relieve the besieged Union army.
October 9 -22, 1863- Bristoe Station Campaign. In a feint toward Washington, Lee's Army of the Northern Virginia marches into northern Virginia in an attempt to flank the Army of the Potomac, under General Meade. Lee successfully outmaneuvers Meade though fails to bring him to battle or catch him in the open.
November 19, 1863- Dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg. President Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.
November 23-25, 1863- The Battle for Chattanooga. Union forces break the Confederate siege in successive attacks. If more was the storming of Lookout Mountain on November 24 and Battle of Missionary Ridge on the 25th. The decisive Union victory sends the Confederate Army south into Georgia where General Bragg reorganizes his forces thens on November 30.
November 26-December 1, 1863- The Mine Run Campaign. Meade's Army of the Potomac marches against Lee's Army of Northern Virginia south of the Rapidan River, east of Orange Court House. Lee throws up a line of defenses along the banks of Mine Run Creek. After several days of probing the defenses, Meade withdraws north of the Rapidan and goes into winter quarters.
November 27 to December 3, 1863- Siege of Knoxville, Tennessee. Confederate troops under General James Longstreet lay siege to the city of Knoxville held by Union forces under General Ambrose Burnside. Longstreet attacks on November 30 but is repulsed with heavy losses. The arrival of Union reinforcements forces him to withdraw.
February 9, 1864- Escape from Libby Prison, Richmond. 109 Union officers tunnel their escape from Libby Prison. 59 make their way into Union lines.
February 27, 1864- In Georgia, Camp Sumter Prison Camp opens. Universally referred to as Andersonville Prison Camp.
February 17, 1864- The CSS H.L. Hunley, a seven-man submarine, attacks the USS Houstonic outside of Charleston, SC. Struck by the submarine's torpedo, the Housatonic sank, taking all but five of her crew with her. The Hunley was also lost, to be discovered and raised in 1995 from where it sank after the attack.
March 2, 1864- Ulysses S. Grant is appointed lieutenant general, a rank revived by President Lincoln. Grant assumes command of all Union Armies in the field the following day.
March 10, 1864- The Red River Campaign begins. The Union strategy is to strike deep into the Confederacy, and an army and navy force under General Nathaniel Banks begins a campaign on the Red River in Louisiana. On April 8, the Battle of Sabine Crossroads or Mansfield, Louisiana, is the first major battle of the Red River Campaign. On April 9, in the Battle of Pleasant Hill, the Union Army under Banks defeats the Confederate forces under General Richard Taylor. However, the campaign closes the first week of May with Confederates still in control of most of the state.
April 12, 1864- Capture of Fort Pillow, Tennessee. After a rapid raid through central and western Tennessee, Confederate cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked and overwhelm the Union garrison at Fort Pillow, on the Mississippi River. Many of the African American garrison were murdered by Forrest's troopers after they surrendered.
May 4-5, 1864- Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia, the opening battle of the "Overland Campaign'. General Grant, accompanying the Army of the Potomac under General Meade. Lee attacked the Union column in the dense woods and underbrush of an area known as the Wilderness, west of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
May 7, 1864- Beginning of the Atlanta Campaign. With three Union armies, General William T. Sherman marched south from Tennessee into Georgia towards Stlanta, against the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Joseph Johnston.
May 8-21, 1864- Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia. Lee stalls Grant's drive toward Richmond.
May 11, 1864- Battle of Yellow Tavern. Six miles north of Richmond, Confederate cavalry under General J.E.B. Stuart blocked a force of Union cavalry under General Philip Sheridan. General Stuart was mortally wounded during the encounter.
May 14-15, 1864- Battle of Resaca, Georgia. General Sherman's armies are blocked at Resaca by General Johnston's Army of Tennessee. After two days of maneuvering and intense fighting, Johnston withdraws. Sherman renews the advance.
June 1-3, 1864- Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia. Union attacks fail to dislodge Lee's army from its strong line of defensive works northeast of Richmond.
June 10, 1864- Battle of Brice's Crossroads, Mississippi. Outnumbered two to one, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest attacks and routs the Union command under General Samuel Sturgis.
June 15-18, 1864- Assault on Petersburg, Virginia. After withdrawing from Cold Harbor, the Army of the Potomac crossed the James River and with troops from the Army of the James attacked the outer defenses of Petersburg. After four days of attacks, Grant accepts that only a siege can defeat the city.
June 27, 1864- Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia. Sherman's Army of the Cumberland and Army of the Tennessee smash headlong into Johnston's defenses at Big and Little Kennesaw. Johnston remains on this line until July 2, when he retreats at the threat being flanked by Sherman's mobile force.
July 9, 1864- Battle of Monocacy, Maryland. In an attempt to draw Union troops away from the ongoing siege of Petersburg and Richmond, a Confederate force under Jubal Early quietly moved north into Maryland. Early had made excellent progress until he reached Frederick, Maryland, where a force of 6,000 Federal troops under General Lew Wallace, arrayed to delay his advance. Though the battle was a Union defeat, it was saved Washington by succeeding in delaying Early until troops could be sent to defend the capital.
July 11-12, 1864- Attack on the Defenses of Washington. Jubal Early's troops arrive on the outskirts of Washington, DC. The armies trade cannon fire until reinforcements from the Army of the Potomac arrive. Early withdraws that evening.
July 14-15, 1864- Battles near Tupelo, Mississippi. The Union defeat of Nathan Bedford Forrest secures the supply lines to Sherman's armies
July 17, 1864- General John Bell Hood replaces General Joseph Johnston as commander of the Army of Tennessee.
July 20, 1864- Battle of Peachtree Creek, Georgia, the first major battle around the city of Atlanta. General Hood sends his army out of the city's defenses to attack the approaching Federal troops under George Thomas. After several hours of fierce fighting, Hood withdrew back to his own defensive works.
July 21, 1864- The Battle of Atlanta. Hood's second effort to throw back Union forces under Sherman brings him heavy casualties with no positive results. General James McPherson, commander of the Union Army of the Tennessee, is killed during the fighting.
July 30, 1864- The Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Virginia. After a month of tunneling by soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, a massive mine was exploded under a Confederate fort in the Petersburg siege lines. The infantry charge that followed was poorly coordinated and by day's end, Confederate counterattacks had driven out the Union troops and the siege lines remained unchanged.
August 5, 1864- Battle of Mobile Bay. A Union fleet under Admiral David Farragut steamed into Mobile Bay outside the city of Mobile, Alabama, defended by two strong forts and a small southern flotilla, including the formidable ironclad CSS Tennessee. Farragut's ships defeated the Confederate ships and bypassed the forts, capturing the important southern port.
August 18-19, 1864- Battles on the Weldon Railroad near Petersburg, Virginia. Union attempts to capture this important railroad into Petersburg were stopped by Confederate counterattacks. Despite southern efforts, the Union remained in firm possession of their gains and the railroad.
August 25, 1864- Battle of Ream's Station, near Petersburg, Virginia. A surprise Confederate counterattack briefly stopped Union destruction of the Weldon Railroad near Ream's Station, though failed to release the Union grip on this important supply line into Petersburg.
August 31- September 1, 1864- Battle of Jonesborough, Georgia. The final southern counterattack against Union troops outside the city of Atlanta fails.
September 1, 1864- Fall of Atlanta, Georgia. Confederate troops under General Hood evacuate the city of Atlanta. General Sherman's army occupies the city and its defenses the following day.
September 19, 1864- Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia. Union forces under General Philip Sheridan attacked the Confederate army under Jubal Early near the city of Winchester and drove them southward, up the Shenandoah Valley.
September 22, 1864- Battle of Fisher's Hill, Virginia. The Union Army of the Shenandoah under General Philip Sheridan attacked Jubal Early's Confederates near Fisher's Hill, overpowering the southerners and again forcing them to flee the battlefield. Union officers and officials in Washington believe this to be the final battle in the Shenandoah Valley.
September 29-30, 1864- Battle of Fort Harrison near Richmond, Virginia. In a sweeping assault, the Confederate stronghold known as Fort Harrison falls to the Army of the James. Confederate efforts to retake the fort fail.
October 19, 1864- The Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia. In an early morning surprise attack, Jubal Early's Confederates drive troops of the Army of the Shenandoah from their camps on the banks of Cedar Creek south of Middletown, Virginia. Hearing the fight from his headquarters at Winchester, General Philip Sheridan rides southward, rallying dispirited troops who return to the battlefield. By day's end, Early's forces are put to flight. Despite several attempts to stop the Union advance in the coming weeks, the battle for control of the Shenandoah Valley is over.
November 8, 1864- Abraham Lincoln is reelected president of the United States.
November 16, 1864- General Sherman's Army of Georgia begins the "March to the Sea"
November 30, 1864- Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. After a month of raiding Sherman's supply lines and attacking Union outposts, John Bell Hood's army confronts Union troops from General John Schofield's command, who they had encountered the day before near Spring Hill, Tennessee. A massive frontal assault on the well entrenched Federal line meets with disaster. Despite some taking of outside works and defenses, the toll for Hood's forces is too heavy including the loss of six of his generals. Union troops retreat in the direction of Nashville.
December 10, 1864- Harassed only by scattered Georgia militia, Sherman's Army of Georgia arrives at Savannah, Georgia, completing the famous "March to the Sea". At Savannah, his troops will take Fort McAllister and force Confederate defenders to evacuate the city.
December 15-16, 1864- The Battle of Nashville, Tennessee. The Confederate Army under John Bell Hood is thoroughly defeated and the threat to Tennessee ends.
January 15, 1865- Assault and capture of Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Union occupation of this fort at the mouth of the Cape Fear River closes access to Wilmington, the last southern seaport on the east coast that was open to blockade runners and commercial shipping.
February 1, 1865- Sherman's Army leaves Savannah to march through the Carolinas.
February 17, 1865- Sherman's Army captures Columbia, South Carolina while Confederate defenders evacuate Charleston, South Carolina.
February 22, 1865- Wilmington, NC, falls to Union troops, closing the last important southern port on the east coast. On this same day, Joseph E. Johnston is restored to command the nearly shattered Army of the Tennessee, vice John B. Hood who resigned a month earlier.
March 4, 1865- President Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated for his second term as president in Washington, DC.
March 11, 1865- Sherman's Army occupies Fayetteville, North Carolina.
March 16 and 19-21, 1865- The Battles of Averasborough and Bentonville, North Carolina. Sherman's army is stalled in its drive northward from Fayetteville but succeeds in passing around the Confederate forces toward its object of Raleigh.
March 25, 1865- Attack on Fort Stedman, Petersburg, Virginia. Confederate troops under General John B. Gordon capture the Union fort in the Petersburg siege lines in an attempt to thwart Union plans for assault. By day's end, the southerners have been thrown out and the lines remain unchanged.
April 1, 1865- The Battle of Five Forks, Virginia. A Confederate defeat at Five Forks.
April 2, 1865- The Fall of Petersburg and Richmond. General Lee abandons both cities and moves his army west in hopes of joining Confederate forces under General Johnston in North Carolina.
April 6, 1865- The Battle of Sailor's Creek, Virginia. Approximately 1/3 of Lee's Army is cornered along the banks of Sailor's (or "Saylor's") Creek and annihilated.
April 9, 1865- Battle of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. After an early morning attempt to break through Union forces blocking the route west to Danville, Virginia, Lee seeks surrender terms with General Grant. That afternoon in the parlor of Wilmer McLean, Lee signs the document of surrender.
April 12, 1865- Confederate General John B. Gordon formally surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia.
April 14, 1865- President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC.
April 26, 1865- General Joseph Johnston signs the surrender document for the Confederate Army of the Tennessee at Bennett's Place near Durham, NC.
May 4, 1865- General Richard Taylor surrenders Confederate forces in the Department of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana.
May 12, 1865- The final battle of the war, a Confederate victory, takes place at Palmito Ranch, TX.
May 23, 1865- The Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac in Washington, DC.
May 24,- The Grand Review of General Sherman's Army in Washington, DC
May 26, 1865- General Simon Bolivar Buckner enters into terms for surrender of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi, which are agreed to on June 2, 1865.The Civil War officially ends.
April 6, 1866- The Union veterans group, The Grand Army of the Republic, is formed.
June 10, 1889- The Confederate veterans group, The United Confederate Veterans, is formed.
1949- Final Grand Army of the Republic Reunion.
May 31-June 1, 1951- Final United Confederate Veterans Reunion.
December 31, 1951- Death of Pleasant R. Crump, the last Confederate veteran.
August 2, 1956- Death of Albert Woolson, the last Union veteran.