Civil War Timeline 1863
January 1,1863…The 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. 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.
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 1863..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. 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 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 Northern war opinion and Union army confidence!
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 during 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.