Events of the American Civil War

Timeline created by Tim Hargesheimer
In History
  • Abraham Lincoln Elected

    Abraham Lincoln Elected
    Abraham Lincoln receives 40% of the popular vote to become the 16th President of the United States
  • Secession Begins

    Secession Begins
    South Carolina secedes from the Union. Followed within two months by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas
  • Jefferson Davis Elected

    Jefferson Davis Elected
    Jefferson Davis elected first President of the Confederate States of America
  • The War Begins

    The War Begins
    Fort Sumter attacked by Southern troops and eventually surrendered after supplies run out
  • Secession Grows

    Secession Grows
    Virginia secedes from the Union, followed within five weeks by Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina, thus forming an eleven state Confederacy with a population of 9 million, including nearly 4 million slaves. The Union will soon have 21 states and a population of over 20 million.
  • Lee Takes Command

    Lee Takes Command
    General Robert E. Lee declines leadership of Union Army and accepts command of the naval forces of Virginia
  • First Bull Run

    First Bull Run
    The Union Army suffers defeat just outside Washington D,C,
  • McClellan Takes Command

    McClellan Takes Command
    Lincoln appoints General George B. McClellan general and chief of all Union forces
  • "Unconditional Surrender" Grant

    Victory for Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Tennessee, capturing Fort Henry, and ten days later Fort Donelson. Grant earns the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.
  • War at Sea

    War at Sea
    The Confederate Ironclad 'Merrimac' sinks two wooden Union ships then battles the Union Ironclad 'Monitor' to a draw.
  • Shiloh

    Confederate surprise attack on Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's unprepared troops at Shiloh on the Tennessee River results in a bitter struggle with 13,000 Union killed and wounded and 10,000 Confederates, more men than in all previous American wars combined.
  • New Orleans Taken

    New Orleans Taken
    17 Union ships under the command of Flag Officer David Farragut move up the Mississippi River then take New Orleans, the South's greatest seaport. In a later battle, he utters the phrase, "Damn the torpedos; full speed ahead"
  • Lee Takes Command

    Lee Takes Command
    Lee takes command of southern troops as General Joseph Johnston is injured during the Battle of Seven Pines, 31 March 1862
  • The Seven Days' Battles

    The Seven Days' Battles
    The Seven Days Battles end as Lee attacks McClellan near Richmond, resulting in very heavy losses for both armies. McClellan then begins a withdrawal back toward Washington.
  • Second Bull Run

    Second Bull Run
    75,000 Federals under Gen. John Pope are defeated by 55,000 Confederates under Gen. Stonewall Jackson and Gen. James Longstreet at the second battle of Bull Run in northern Virginia.
  • Antietam

    The bloodiest day in U.S. military history as Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Armies are stopped at Antietam in Maryland by McClellan and numerically superior Union forces. By nightfall 26,000 men are dead, wounded, or missing. Lee then withdraws to Virginia.
  • Lincoln Replaces McClellan

    Lincoln Replaces McClellan
    Lincoln, growing tired and frustrated with McClellan's procrastination, replaces him as commander with Ambrose Burnside.
  • Fredericksburg

    Army of the Potomac under Gen. Burnside suffers a costly defeat at Fredericksburg in Virginia with a loss of 12,653 men after 14 frontal assaults on well entrenched Rebels on Marye's Heights. "We might as well have tried to take hell," a Union soldier remarks.
  • Emancipation

    National Archives and Records Administration Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the territories engaged in rebellion
  • Draft in the North

    Draft in the North
    The U.S. Congress enacts a draft, affecting male citizens aged 20 to 45, but also exempts those who pay $300 or provide a substitute. "The blood of a poor man is as precious as that of the wealthy," poor Northerners complain. Draft Riots occur in New York, 13-16 July
  • Chancellorsville

    After four days of fighting, the Union Army under Gen. Hooker is decisively defeated by Lee's much smaller forces at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia as a result of Lee's brilliant and daring tactics. Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson is mortally wounded by his own soldiers. Hooker retreats. Union losses are 17,000 killed, wounded and missing out of 130,000. The Confederates, 13, 000 out of 60,000.
  • Gettysburg

  • Vicksburg

    The last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, surrenders to Gen. Grant and the Army of the West after a six week siege.
  • Douglass meets Lincoln

    Douglass meets Lincoln
    Frederick Douglass meets Abraham Lincoln and calls for full equality for "Negro Troops"
  • Chickamauga

    A decisive Confederate victory by Gen. Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee at Chickamauga leaves Gen. William S. Rosecrans' Union Army of the Cumberland trapped in Chattanooga, Tennessee under Confederate siege.
  • Gettysburg Address

    Gettysburg Address
    Lincoln delivers a two minute speech at Gettysburg, dedicating the battlefield
  • Chattanooga

    The Rebel siege of Chattanooga ends as Union forces under Grant defeat the siege army of Gen. Braxton Bragg. During the battle, one of the most dramatic moments of the war occurs. Yelling "Chickamauga! Chickamauga!" Union troops avenge their previous defeat at Chickamauga by storming up the face of Missionary Ridge without orders and sweep the Rebels from what had been though to be an impregnable position. "My God, come and see 'em run!" a Union soldier cries.
  • Grant Promoted; Replaced by Sherman

    Grant Promoted; Replaced by Sherman
    President Lincoln appoints Gen. Grant to command all of the armies of the United States. Gen. William T. Sherman succeeds Grant as commander in the west.
  • Cold Harbor

    Cold Harbor
    Grant loses 7,000 troops in twenty minutes after the attack at Cold Harbor in Virginia
  • Sherman Takes Atlanta

    Sherman Takes Atlanta
    "Atlanta is ours, and fairly won," Sherman telegraphs Lincoln. The victory greatly helps President Lincoln's bid for re-election.
  • Lincoln Re-Elected

    Lincoln Re-Elected
    Lincoln wins re-election as President of the United States
  • Sherman's March to the Sea

    Sherman's March to the Sea
    After destroying Atlanta's warehouses and railroad facilities, Sherman, with 62,000 men begins a March to the Sea. President Lincoln on advice from Grant approved the idea. "I can make Georgia howl!" Sherman boasts.
  • Nashville

    Hood's Rebel Army of 23,000 is crushed at Nashville by 55,000 Federals including Negro troops under Gen. George H. Thomas. The Confederate Army of Tennessee ceases as an effective fighting force.
  • Thirteenth Amendment

    Thirteenth Amendment
    National Archives The U.S. Congress approves the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, to abolish slavery. The amendment is then submitted to the states for ratification.
  • Lincoln Inaugurated

    Lincoln Inaugurated
    Inauguration ceremonies for President Lincoln in Washington. "With malice toward none; with charity for all...let us strive on to finish the work we are do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations," Lincoln says.
  • Lee's Last Offensive

    Lee's Last Offensive
    The last offensive for Lee's Army of Northern Virginia begins with an attack on the center of Grant's forces at Petersburg. Four hours later the attack is broken.
  • Richmond Evacuated

    Richmond Evacuated
    Grant's forces begin a general advance and break through Lee's lines at Petersburg. Confederate Gen. Ambrose P. Hill is killed. Lee evacuates Petersburg. The Confederate Capital, Richmond, is evacuated. Fires and looting break out. The next day, Union troops enter and raise the Stars and Stripes.
  • Lincoln Tours Confederate White House

    Lincoln Tours Confederate White House
    Lincoln tours Richmond after its capture, sits at Jefferson Davis' desk in the Confederate White House
  • Lee Surrenders

    Lee Surrenders
    Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia. Grant allows Rebel officers to keep their sidearms and permits soldiers to keep horses and mules.
  • Lincoln Assassinated

    Lincoln Assassinated
    The Stars and Stripes is ceremoniously raised over Fort Sumter. That night, Lincoln and his wife Mary see the play "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater. At 10:13 p.m., during the third act of the play, John Wilkes Booth shoots the president in the head. Doctors attend to the president in the theater then move him to a house across the street. He never regains consciousness.
  • Period: to

    The American Civil War

    The History Place: A Nation Divided Almost all of the dates and historical information was found at The History Place: A Nation Divided - The American Civil War 1861-1865. Images were gathered at this site, as well as from several other sites.