U.S. Civil War 1861-1865

  • Lincoln is elected

    Lincoln is elected
    Abraham Lincoln, who had declared "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free..." is elected president, the first Republican, receiving 180 of 303 possible electoral votes and 40 percent of the popular vote.
  • Seccession

    Seccession
    South Carolina secedes from the Union. Followed within two months by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas
  • C.S.A. Established

    C.S.A. Established
    The Confederate States of America is formed with Jefferson Davis as president.
  • Fort Sumter

    Fort Sumter
    At 4:30 a.m. Confederates under Gen. Pierre Beauregard open fire with 50 cannons upon Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War begins.
  • Union Troops

    President Lincoln issues a Proclamation calling for 75,000 militiamen.
  • Lee and the Union Army

    Lee and the Union Army
    Robert E. Lee, son of a Revolutionary War hero, and a 25 year distinguished veteran of the United States Army and former Superintendent of West Point, is offered command of the Union Army. Lee declines.
  • More Seccessions

    More Seccessions
    Virginia secedes from the Union, followed within five weeks by Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina, thus forming an eleven state Confederacy. The Union will soon have 21 states.
  • Proclamation of Blockade

    President Lincoln issues a Proclamation of Blockade against Southern ports. For the duration of the war the blockade limits the ability of the rural South to stay well supplied in its war against the industrialized North.
  • Lee resigns

    Lee resigns
    April 20, 1861 - Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army. "I cannot raise my hand against my birthplace, my home, my children." Lee then goes to Richmond, Virginia, is offered command of the military and naval forces of Virginia, and accepts.
  • Bull Run

    Bull Run
    The Union Army under Gen. Irvin McDowell suffers a defeat at Bull Run 25 miles southwest of Washington. Confederate Gen. Thomas J. Jackson earns the nickname "Stonewall," as his brigade resists Union attacks. Union troops fall back to Washington. President Lincoln realizes the war will be long.
  • McClellan takes command

    McClellan takes command
    President Lincoln appoints McClellan as general-in-chief of all Union forces after the resignation of the aged Winfield Scott. Lincoln tells McClellan, "...the supreme command of the Army will entail a vast labor upon you." McClellan responds, "I can do it all."
  • Gen. Ulysses S. Grant

    Gen. Ulysses S. 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.
  • Merrimac vs. Monitor

    Merrimac vs. Monitor
    The Confederate Ironclad 'Merrimac' sinks two wooden Union ships then battles the Union Ironclad 'Monitor' to a draw. Naval warfare is changed forever, making wooden ships obsolete.
  • Fredericksburg

    Fredericksburg
    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. Confederate losses are 5,309. "It is well that war is so terrible - we should grow too fond of it," states Lee during the fighting.
  • Shiloh

    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. The president is then pressured to relieve Grant but resists. "I can't spare this man; he fights," Lincoln says.
  • Fall of New Orleans

    Fall of New Orleans
    17 Union ships move up the Mississippi River then take New Orleans, the South's greatest seaport.
  • Seven Pines

    Seven Pines
    Hotair balloons were used as observation platforms for the Union army during the Battle of Seven Pines making it the first time aircraft played a role in combat. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's Army attacks McClellan's troops in front of Richmond and nearly defeats them. But Johnston is badly wounded and Gen. Robert E. Lee takes over. McClellan is not impressed, saying Lee is "likely to be timid and irresolute in action."
  • Seven Days Battle

    Seven Days Battle
    June 25-July 1 - The Seven Days Battles as Lee attacks McClellan near Richmond, resulting in very heavy losses for both armies. McClellan then begins a withdrawal back toward Washington.
  • Halleck takes command

    Halleck takes command
    After four months as his own general-in-chief, President Lincoln hands over the task to Gen. Henry W. (Old Brains) Halleck.
  • Second Battle of Bull Run

    Second Battle of Bull Run
    75,000 Federals are defeated by 55,000 Confederates at the second battle of Bull Run in northern Virginia. An outmaneuvered Union was soundly defeated and forced to retreat.
  • Antietam

    Antietam
    The bloodiest day in U.S. military history as Gen. Robert E. Lee's invasion of the North is stopped at Antietam in Maryland by McClellan and numerically superior Union forces. By nightfall 26,000 men are dead, wounded, or missing. Lee withdraws to Virginia.
  • Burnside takes command

    Burnside takes command
    The president replaces McClellan with Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside as the new Commander of the Army of the Potomac. Lincoln had grown impatient with McClellan's slowness to follow up on the success at Antietam, even telling him, "If you don't want to use the army, I should like to borrow it for a while."
  • Emancipation Proclamation

    Emancipation Proclamation
    President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in territories held by Confederates (red) and emphasizes the enlisting of black soldiers in the Union Army. The war to preserve the Union now becomes a revolutionary struggle for the abolition of slavery
  • Hooker takes command

    Hooker takes command
    The president appoints Gen. Joseph (Fighting Joe) Hooker as Commander of the Army of the Potomac, replacing Burnside.
  • Union draft

    Union draft
    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.
  • Chancellorsville

    Chancellorsville
    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. "I just lost confidence in Joe Hooker," said Hooker later about his own lack of nerve during the b
  • Death of Stonewall Jackson

    Death of Stonewall Jackson
    The South suffers a huge blow as Stonewall Jackson dies from his wounds. "I have lost my right arm," Lee laments.
  • Second invasion of the North

    Second invasion of the North
    Gen. Lee with 75,000 Confederates launches his second invasion of the North, heading into Pennsylvania in a campaign that will soon lead to Gettysburg.
  • Meade takes command

    Meade takes command
    President Lincoln appoints Gen. George G. Meade as commander of the Army of the Potomac, replacing Hooker. Meade is the 5th man to command the Army in less than a year.
  • Gettysburg

    Gettysburg
    The tide of war turns against the South as the Confederates are defeated at the 3 day Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.
  • Vicksburg

    Vicksburg
    Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, surrenders to Gen. Grant and the Army of the West. With the Union now in control of the Mississippi, the Confederacy is effectively split in two, cut off from its western allies.
  • Antidraft Riots

    Antidraft Riots
    Antidraft riots in New York City include arson and the murder of blacks by poor immigrant whites. At least 120 persons, including children, are killed and $2 million in damage caused, until Union soldiers returning from Gettysburg restore order
  • Chickamauga

    Chickamauga
    A decisive Confederate victory by Gen. Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee.
  • Gettysburg Address

    Gettysburg Address
    President Lincoln delivers a two minute Gettysburg Address at a ceremony dedicating the Battlefield as a National Cemetery.
  • Chattanooga

    Chattanooga
    The Rebel siege of Chattanooga ended as Union forces under Grant defeated 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.
  • Grant takes command

    Grant takes command
    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.
  • Joint Union campaign

    Joint Union campaign
    The beginning of a massive, coordinated campaign involving all the Union Armies. In Virginia, Grant with an Army of 120,000 begins advancing toward Richmond to engage Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, now numbering 64,000. In the west, Sherman, with 100,000 men begins an advance toward Atlanta.
  • Fall of Atlanta

    Fall of Atlanta
    Atlanta is captured by Sherman's Army. "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
    Abraham Lincoln is re-elected president. Lincoln carries all but three states with 55 percent of the popular vote.
  • Sherman's March

    Sherman's March
    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.
  • Sherman's reaches Savannah

    Sherman's reaches Savannah
    Sherman reaches Savannah in Georgia leaving behind a 300 mile long path of destruction 60 miles wide all the way from Atlanta. Sherman then telegraphs Lincoln, offering him Savannah as a Christmas present.
  • Failed treaty

    Failed treaty
    A peace conference occurs as President Lincoln meets with Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens at Hampton Roads in Virginia, but the meeting ends in failure.
  • Richmond Falls

    Richmond Falls
    Grant's forces begin a general advance and break through Lee's lines. The Confederate Capital, Richmond, is evacuated. Fires and looting break out. The next day, Union troops enter and raise the Stars and Stripes.
  • Appomattox

    Appomattox
    Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. Grant allows Rebel officers to keep their sidearms and permits soldiers to keep horses and mules. "After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources," Lee tells his troops.
  • Lincoln shot

    Lincoln shot
    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 and dies the next day.
  • Booth dies

    Booth dies
    John Wilkes Booth is shot and killed in a tobacco barn in Virginia.
  • End of war

    End of war
    In May - Remaining Confederate forces surrender. The Nation is reunited as the Civil War ends. Over 620,000 Americans died in the war, with disease killing twice as many as those lost in battle. 50,000 survivors return home as amputees.
  • Thirteenth Amendment

    Thirteenth Amendment
    The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, is finally ratified. Slavery is abolished.