Civil War Timeline


 Civil War Timeline


 Civil War Timeline


Civil War Timeline

Abraham Lincoln

Nov.6,1860.. ABRAHAM LINCOLN is elected the 16th President of the United States. Before his inauguration, seven states will secede.

Dec.2,1860South Carolina, a strong supporter of “states rights” as well as slavery secedes from the Union. Only the first to secede,to be followed within weeks by 6 more.. Mississippi (1/9/61), Florida (1/10/61) , Alabama (1/11/61), Georgia (1/19/61), Louisiana (1/26/61) and Texas (2/1/61).

Civil War Timeline … 1861

February 9,1861..the seceded southern states form the Confederation appointing former Federal army officer Jefferson Davis of Kentucky as their President.

March 4,1861… President elect Abraham Lincoln takes the oath as the 16th President of the United States.

March 28,1861…Federal Commander Winfield Scott, the hero of the Niagara in the war of 1812 promotes Robert E.Lee to Colonel. Meanwhile, Lee ignored an offer of command from the CSA. Scott was a hero in the Mexican-American and the Indian Wars also. But he is old and unwell. Scott is 74 years in 1861..and will offer the command of the Union army to Lee on April 17.

April 12,1861BATTLE OF FT SUMTER.  HIstoric beginning of the Civil War as Ft. Sumter in Charleston harbor, S. Carolina is shelled at 4:30 a.m. in our Civil War Timeline. Ft Sumter surrenders approximately 36 hours later.

April 15,1861… President Lincoln orders a “Special Session” of Congress for Independence Day, July 4.  He releases an order calling up 75,000 militia.

April 17,1861Virginia secedes from the Union followed by Arkansas (5/6/61), N.Carolina (5/20/61), Tennessee (6/8/61).

April 19,1861… President Lincoln orders the “blockade of southern ports”. Supplies for both Southern citizens and the Confederate war effort will now be decreased for the duration of the war. “Blockade running” with fast ships will significantly aid the South in the first years.

April 23,1861… Robert E.Lee accepts command of Virginia State forces. This is accepted only after Lee turns down the offer from the Union on April 17th to command Federal forces in and around Washington. He refused..and resigned his commission in the Union army on April 20th. He had contemplated the Confederate offer for 2 days after his resignation.

June 20,1861West Virginia breaks from Virginia as it votes to stay in the Union along with Delaware,Maryland,Missouri and Kentucky even though they are slave states.

July 4,1861… Congress votes and puts out the call for 500,000 men. Lincoln delivers one of his simple and stirring speeches.

July 21,1861FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. First blood at Manassas,Va. as Federals are routed in “The Great Skedaddle”. Civilians actually came out to watch the battle with picnic baskets but are appalled at the carnage.

July 27,1861… President Lincoln replaces McDowell with George B.McClellen as Commander of the Army of the Potomac.

September 11,1861…the unauthorized proclamation of emancipation in Missouri by General John C. Fremont is rebuked and revoked by President Lincoln.

November 1,1861…General Winfield Scott resigns and the command of the Federal Army is given to McClellen who offers confidence to Lincoln stating “I can do it all”

November 8,1861…The Union Navy stops 2 Confederate diplomats sailing for England. The British government demands their release. Lincoln states “one war at a time” and ends a diplomatic standoff by releasing them.

Civil War Timeline … 1862

January 31,1862…General Order #1 released by President Lincoln whereas Federal forces will begin their advance by Washington’s birthday, February 22.

February 6,1862… General U.S.”Unconditional Surrender” Grant receives the first major victories for the Union. Confederate Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in Tennessee are captured. President Lincoln will later state of General U.S. Grant after the captures, “I need this man..he fights“.

February 20,1862…President Lincoln and wife Mary Todd Lincoln suffer the death of their 11 year old son Willie.

March 9,1862…the historical battle of the U.S.S. Monitor against the C.S.S.Virginia (formerly the U.S.S. Merrimac) by Norfolk,Va. ends in a draw. The end of the era of wooden ships.

April 6-7,1862…BATTLE OF SHILOH (Pittsburg Landing,Tenn.) General Grant loses the first day as Confederate troops launch a surprise dawn attack rolling back the Federals almost 2 miles. Grant will win day 2 and call it a Federal victory when the rebels retire falling back to Corinth.

April 16,1862…The Confederate Conscription Act enacts a draft to fill the CSA ranks. All men 20-35 years of age are eligible for 3 years of service.  The age limit will be raised 5 months later to 45 years of age. One year service has been raised to 3 years.

April 24,1862…”Capture of New Orleans“, a seaport of extreme importance to rebel defense supply falls to Admiral David Farragut. Etched in history when he yells “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” while fighting his way through a Mississippi River minefield. The city remains defiant as armed mobs attack Federal sailors.

May 31,1862...Battle of Seven Pines ( also Battle of Fair Oaks ). A major setback for Union General McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign which had been based upon overwhelming Richmond by attacking up the Virginia Peninsula from the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast. The Union forces under “Little Mac” will be attacked and pressed away from Richmond. The Confederates will retake their defensive positions around Richmond.

June 1,1862…Robert E. Lee replaces Joseph E. Johnston wounded at Seven Pines as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

June 25,1862…The Seven Days Battles commences on June 25th as Lee attacks McClellan for the next seven days at Mechanicsville, Gaines Mill, Garnetts and Goldings’ Farm, Savages’ Station, Battle of Glendale and Malvern Hill where Lee will suffer heavy losses as he marches his men into closely assembled Union artillery ( the cannons were wheel to wheel ).  Losses are heavy for both sides and the end for McClellans’ Peninsula Campaign. Considered victories by both sides, Southern war sentiment will increase as Northern war sentiment hits a low.

July 11,1862Major General Henry W. Halleck now General-in-Chief of Federal forces

Civil War Timeline

August 29-30,1862SECOND BATTLE OF BULL RUN ( Second Manassas) as the Federals under General John Pope are defeated by CSA forces combined under the proven talents of CSA Generals Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet. An attack by Union General Fitz John Porter is cleanly stopped by CSA artillery. Union General Pope has had his supply lines cut by CSA General Jackson. Pope’s attacks continue with little effect. When his last attack against the CSA line fails, he is counterattacked by the greatest simultaneous assault of the war. CSA General Longstreet had reached the battlefield without the Unions immediate knowledge and will order all of his five divisions ( 25,000 men) to the attack. Pope will be routed, but an effective rear guard action will prevent a repeat of the Union route at Bull Run just a year before.

September 15,1862Capture of Harpers Ferry . R.E. Lee divides his smaller army and outflanks McClellen gaining supplies and over 12,000 Union prisoners at Harpers Ferry, W.Virginia.

September 17,1862BATTLE OF ANTIETAM (Battle of Sharpsburg, Md.) America’s bloodiest day in history. Over 25,000 casualties with the outcome a draw disappointing President Lincoln who wants the Army of Northern Virginia destroyed. Historians felt “Little Mac” did not commit enough reserves into the battle. Only 2/3 of Federal units were engaged . However, he did stop Lee’s army which now falls back to Virginia to regroup. McClellan considers Antietam a Union victory. Watching the U.S , the British and French hold back on their planned recognition of the Confederacy.

September 22,1862…President Lincoln issues the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation . Simply stating ” .. on the first day of January..all persons held in any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

November 7,1862…President Lincoln has grown impaitent with McClellan’s “lack of attack” after Antietam. He mentions to Mac “if you don’t want to use the army, I should like to borrow it for awhile”. McClellan is replaced by Major-General Ambrose E. Burnside after Lincoln visits Maryland and Mac in October.

December 11-15,1862…BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG The newly appointed General Burnside suffers unnecesary losses especially on Dec.13 when the Grand Army of the Potomac moves too slowly attacking Lee across the Rappahannock River. The attacking Federal brigades were cut down so efficiently by well entrenched rebels atop Marye’s Heights that even rebels later stated “it was murder”.

Even General Lee is moved. He will later mention…” it is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”


 “Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War” Hardcover


Civil War Timeline… 1863

January 1,1863The Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves in “states in rebellion” is issued. The enlistment of black soldiers in the Union  army will increase, black regiments will fight. The 1st S.Carolina mustered in late 1862 and the 54th Mass. in early 1863.  Over 200,000 black soldiers will help win the war for the Union.

March 3,1863…President Lincoln and Congress issue the First Conscription Act. Men 20-45 years of age are draft eligible. A draft eligible man can pay $300. for an exemption or have a paid substitute do his fighting.

May 1-4,1863…” BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE “. The newly appointed General of the Potomac Army Joseph “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker is soundly defeated in Virginia by Lee who splits his smaller army and with skill and “Stonewall Jacksons’s” foot cavalry scares Hooker into a defensive position at Chancellorsville.

After too many Union counter movements, a surprise attack on the evening of May 2 would drive the Union flank almost 2 miles in complete confusion. “Stonewall” Jackson would be mortally wounded himself a few hours later by friendly fire and die 8 days later of pneumonia. Upon hearing of Jacksons’ wounds..Lee states “I have lost my right arm.”

Another Union disaster that Hooker blamed on several commanders but later would admit  “I just lost confidence in Joe Hooker”. When he stopped his advance with over twice the men on May 1, Lee’s daring initiative and tactics changed the future of the battle.

Civil War Timeline

June 4,1863..Lee starts north to destroy the Army of the Potomac, which has a new commander as of June 28. General George G. Meade has replaced Hooker just days  before the armies meet and make history. Lee wins several battles while moving such as Winchester on June 13, his optimism of total victory is reinforced. But the tide is about to change.



Civil War Timeline..Turning point in the war...

July 1-3,1863…” BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG… Union Brigadier General John Buford’s cavalry makes contact with CSA General Heth’s Division advancing on the Cashtown Road the evening of June 30 just outside of the small Pennsylvania village, Gettysburg. The next 3 days battle will test both armies to their limits.Newly appointed Commanding Union General George Meade will in the end win the battle through tenacious defensive tactics especially on July 3rd afternoon when Lee orders an assault on the Union center.

CSA General George Pickett’s Virginians will lead the attack on the afternoon of July 3rd. Those brave Confederate soldiers who march into the Federal guns will go down in history for their elant and courage during such a suicidal advance. Lee will admit defeat and retire his army south never to invade the north again. The Confederate “High Tide” of the war so to speak.

Gettysburg is a Union victory, a turning point given all the previous CSA victories and Union defeats. The Federal soldiers will yell “Fredericksburg” at the Rebels when they retire after “Picketts Charge” fails on the hot afternoon of July 3rd as they have fought a long time waiting for this victory.

Complete victory that Lincoln has waited for so long, is within his grasp. To end the war, he orders Meade to finish off the Army of Northern Virginia. General Meade does not engage the CSA Army as instructed by President Lincoln. After many days, Lee slips across the Potomac River to safety.

July 4,1863…Surrender of  Vicksburg, Mississippi.  The city garrison has been under siege since May 25th by U.S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee who has had several victories in the area, but two failed assaults on Vicksburg. A Union victory would mean the Confederacy will lose control of the Mississippi and the Union strategy to further stop rebel supplies, and split the Confederacy in two will be complete (after the capture of Port Hudson, Louisiana).

The Confederate garrison at Vicksburg held out for 40 days. CSA General John Pemberton will surrender on the Fourth of July,1863 with over 30,000 CSA prisoners to Major General U.S. Grant.

These 2 victories will greatly improve the Northern war opinion and Union army confidence!


Civil War Timeline

July 13,1863..The New York City Draft Riots ( “Draft Week” ) start and will continue for 3 hellish days..especially for blacks. The mostly working class mob attacks the draft office, political offices,  and later an orphanage for black children. Knowing the mob has already lynched and burned several blacks, the police are able to hold off the mob until the children are taken to safety.

A dark stain on the behavior of the working class mob, many of whom are Irish off the boat. They are furious that they must fight, while the wealthy pay the $300. fee to avoid conscription. The working class Irish are also angry they must now compete with free blacks for jobs. The military will use fixed bayonets and end the riot on July 16th.

As per NYC historians, approx. 120 people were killed including 10 blacks lynched. Approx. 1,200 people are injured.

July 18,1863… The 54th Mass.,  a “colored” regiment under young Colonel Robert Gould Shaw will go down in history as they attack Battery Wagner, S.Carolina with courage and elant that changed public opinion of the “colored” soldier. The 54th will suffer almost 50% casualties, Colonel Shaw killed in action will be “trench” buried with his men. The fort was abandoned on September 6,1863, but over 300 Union soldiers stationed at the fort later will be casualties from an accidental powder explosion.

September 19-20,1863…BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA“...CSA General Braxton Bragg defeats Union General William Rosecrans on the Georgia-Tennessee border at Chickamauga Creek. The Union falls back to Chattanooga, but not before Union General George Thomas earns his nickname “Rock of Chickamauga” for holding his battlefield position after repeated Confederate attacks.

October 16,1863…General U.S.Grant is on the “way up” as he is appointed Commander of all Western Union Armies by President Lincoln.

November 19,1863… Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln stuns his audience and burns his simple speech into U.S. history while dedicating the Soldiers National Cemetery at the former battlefield in Pennsylvania. Lincoln’s 2 minute speech follows a 2 hour speech by Hon. Edward Everett who later flatters Lincoln in a letter, mentioning he did not feel he came as near the central idea in 2 hours, as Lincoln did in 2 minutes.

President Lincoln felt the speech at first a failure due to the silence and delayed applause of the audience. The Union struggle in the Civil War has been redefined with this “New Birth of Freedom”, echoing the Declaration of Independence and human equality.

November 23-25,1863…BATTLE OF CHATTANOOGA… General Grant defeats CSA General Braxton Bragg at Chattanooga,Tennessee,ending the 2 month siege. The south is open for the following Atlanta campaign by General William T. Sherman. The beginning of the end for the CSA in the western theater, Federal troops in triumph shout “Chickamauga” at the retreating Rebels.


Civil War Timeline…1864

March 9,1864…General U.S. Grant is appointed Commander of all Union Armies. General William T.Sherman will be Commanding the Western Union Army.

April 8, 1864The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “Abolishing Slavery and Involuntary Servitude” is passed by The Senate. ( It will later on Jan. 31,1865 be passed by ‘The House’ and ratified on Dec.6,1865).

May 4-6,1864…”BATTLE OF THE WILDERNESS. General Grant and 120,000 Unions soldiers will undertake the campaign of attrition. Lee has just 65,000 soldiers approx. and the losses will be heavy for both sides. Grant will keep hitting Lee’s “left flank” and will not lose contact again. The first battle of his “Overland Campaign” devised by Grant and President Lincoln to assault the CSA at several points uncluding Richmond,Va.,  the Shenandoah Valley, Georgia and Alabama with the Army of the the Potomac and the Western Armies… simultaneously.

May 8-21,1864…”BATTLE OF SPOTSYLVANIA.  General Grant attacks Lee for the second time during this  “Overland Campaign” at Spotsylvania Courthouse,Va. Some of the most savage fighting of the war as the Rebels are desperate and the Union army under Grant wants victory and an end to the war.


“The Western Theater”…The Union Western Army of the Tennessee under General William Tecumseh Sherman starts to close in on General Joseph Johnstons’ Confederate Army for the great Union attack on Atlanta,Georgia. ( As in the classic movie “Gone with the Wind”).


June 3,1864….” BATTLE OF COLD HARBOR . General Grant keeps the pressure on Lee, but will lose so many men on the secondary charges at Cold Harbor, Virginia that he will later state those Union charges were regretable. The loss of 7,000+ men in 25 minutes will stay with Grant for the rest of his life.

Union soldiers were pinning pieces of paper to their backs before the assaults with their names and units, so their bodies could be identified later.   All  for the Union !

Civil War Timeline

“Dictator” shelling Petersburg


June 9,1864…”SIEGE OF PETERSBURG “. Several battles and lost opportunities by the Union Army results in a nine month siege of Petersburg, Virginia.   The city is a hub of railroad lines that support the Confederate Army. Grant digs in on the southern and eastern areas below the city, extending his lines westward constantly and cutting off the railroads supply lines. Thirty miles of “trench warfare” at it’s worst. Especially for Lee’s worn out army.

By early April,1865 Lee’s armies will have fallen back abandoning Petersburg and the Confederate capital at Richmond,Virginia. The CSA are fighting bravely but will have few victories as Grant lays siege to Lee’s retreating army.


July 22,1864..” BATTLE OF ATLANTA “. The battle just south of the city by Union General William T. Sherman against CSA General John Bell Hood will transform into a siege, until Sept.2 when Hood abandons the railroad center and Sherman telegraphs Lincoln of the victory. “Atlanta is ours .. and fairly won”. A major step forward for the Union army and the northern public is thrilled with the news of the victory.

Union Major General James B. McPherson, a friend of CSA General John Bell Hood was killed during the battle.

Abraham Lincoln’s re-election as President is solidly secured with this Union victory.


Civil War Timeline

October 19,1864…” BATTLE OF CEDAR CREEK “.  Union General Philip H. Sheridan defeats CSA General Jubal A. Early in a dramatic victory that was almost defeat for the Union. The CSA surprise attack routed the Federals. Sheridan goes down in history when he stops the Union retreat.

“Sheridan’s Ride” will immortalize his famous ride from Winchester when he is told the Union line has broke. Riding his black 16 hand high gelding ” Rienzi”, he crashes down the road toward Cedar Creek waving his hat and yelling to the retreating Union soldiers to turn, until they cheer and rally renewing the attack. He drives Jubal Early from the lower Shenandoah Valley for good. Sheridan will rename the great horse “Winchester”.

President Lincoln is very satisfied with the additional victories that can lead to an end of the war. But CSA elan and belief in the cause will drive them on.

October 19,1864The “St. Albans Raid”.  The Northernmost action of the Civil War as 18 Confederates stage an attack on the  4 banks and citizenry of St. Albans, Vermont. Led by the young CSA Lt. Bennett Young, the plan begins north of the border in Canada and was successful as over $200,000. was obtained during their prompt “withdrawals”.

The raiders than fled by stolen horses to Canada where 14 of the 18 were captured quickly by Canadian authorities with close to $90,000. of the loot. A daring raid that brought The War closer to home for the Vermont town folk. ( Photo of my brother Neil, St Albans resident, actor, and Civil War Historian when St. Albans folks re-created the raid in 2014.)

November 8,1864…President Abraham Lincoln is reelected by a landslide even carrying the states of Tennessee and Louisiana. His opponent is his former Union commanding General George B. McClellen with the Democratic “Peace” Party.

The first time soldiers vote “from the field”.

Abraham Lincoln receives over 70% of votes cast by the soldiers.



November 15,1864…”THE SAVANNAH CAMPAIGN”. General William T. Sherman leaves captured Atlanta after convincing Grant and Lincoln he can “break” his supply lines in Georgia and march his army to the coast living off the land. The Union army will cut a swath of destruction through the heart of the confederacy burning farms and fields and any supplies they cannot take on their march.

He states about his intended actions to the CSA “I will make them howl”. His army will go out of contact with Washington for a month carving a path of misery east 50 miles wide and 300 miles long until his Union “bummers” reach the coast at Savannah, Ga.

December 15-16, 1864… ” BATTLE OF NASHVILLE “. Union Major General George H. Thomas defeats Confederate Lieut. General John Bell Hood at Nashville in a complete victory that finally eliminates the CSA Army of the Tennessee as a fighting force.

December 21,1864…General William T. Sherman completes his “March to the Sea” reaching Savannah, Georgia. The psychological effect of his march and destruction of property and infrastructure is devastating to the South. The estimated damage to the Confederacy is estimated at over 100 million dollars.

Sherman sends a wire to President Lincoln stating “I beg to offer to you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah..”


Civil War Timeline…1865

January 15,1865..Wilmington, N.Carolina, a haven for CSA blockade runners is captured by Admiral David Porter and a ground force under Union General Alfred Terry capture Fort Fisher.

January 31,1865.. The Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery is passed by Congress.

February 3,1865...President Lincoln meets with  CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens to discuss the possibilities of peace. The meeting was stated “informal” without records, as these two former Congressmen and Whigs find no middle ground.

Lincoln’s terms:

1) Restoration of the National Authority throughout all states. 2) No receding of the slavery question. 3) No cessation of hostilities except a complete end of war, and disbanding of all forces hostile to the Federal government.

February 15,1865…Sherman turns his army north to destroy the Carolinas, burning Columbia, S.Carolina to the ground.

March 4,1865…President Lincoln is inaugurated for his second term.

March 25,1865…Fall of Petersburg,Virginia as General Grant withstands the last attacks from the Confederates as he is dug in around the city. Lee’s last attack comes on April 1, than he retreats.

April 2,1865…General Grant has captured Petersburg and advances toward Appomatox while Lee also abandons Richmond. Confederate General A.P. Hill ( “Little Powell”) is killed at Petersburg,Virginia just seven days before Lee’s surrender.

April 4,1865…President Lincoln tours Richmond. He will sit in President Davis’ office chair while visiting the CSA White House.

April 9,1865…Confederate General R.E.Lee surrenders to Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomatox after losing a final battle that morning at Appomatox Courthouse.

April 15,1865…President Abraham Lincoln dies at 7:22am after being shot the evening before at Fords’ Theater in Washington. The assassin is well known actor and Southern sympathiser John Wilkes Booth who has escaped.

April 26,1865…Confederate General Joseph Johnston surrenders his Army of Tennessee to Union General William T. Sherman in Durham, N.Carolina after 3 days of negotiations.

Assassin John Wilkes Booth is finally located, shot, killed after a 12 day manhunt.

May 10,1865…Former CSA President Jefferson Davis is captured in Irwinville, Georgia.

June 2,1865…Confederate General E.Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederacy signs surrender terms offered by the Union Army after 3 days of negotiations at Galveston,Texas.

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“Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War”


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