Civil War

  • Republican Party is formed

    Republican Party is formed
    The Republican Party was formed in 1854 by former members of the Whig Party who opposed the expansion of slavery into the western territories allowed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It was established at meetings in Ripon, Wisconsin and Jackson, Michigan with a platform calling for the abolition of slavery in the territories. The party's first presidential candidate was John C. Frémont in 1856, who won 11 Northern states but lost the election.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act passed

    Kansas-Nebraska Act passed
    The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 repealed the Missouri Compromise, allowed settlers in the Kansas and Nebraska territories to determine if they would allow slavery through popular sovereignty, and intensified the national divide over slavery that ultimately led to the Civil War.
  • Abraham Lincoln elected president

    Abraham Lincoln elected president
    Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States on November 6, 1860, winning the Electoral College with 180 votes despite receiving only 39.8% of the popular vote. His victory, on a platform opposing the expansion of slavery, led to the secession of seven Southern slave states and the outbreak of the Civil War. Lincoln's election marked a pivotal moment in American history, as the nation became divided over the issue of slavery and states' rights.
  • Battle of Fredericksburg

    Battle of Fredericksburg
    The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought from December 11-15, 1862, between the Union Army of the Potomac under Major General Ambrose Burnside and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia led by General Robert E. Lee. Burnside's plan to cross the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg and race to Richmond was delayed, allowing Lee's forces to concentrate and fortify defensive positions south of the town and on Marye's Heights.
  • South Carolina votes to secede from the United States

    South Carolina votes to secede from the United States
    The South Carolina legislature called a convention in December 1860 following Abraham Lincoln's election as president, and on December 20th, the 169 delegates unanimously voted to secede from the United States. Their "Declaration of the Immediate Causes" cited the increasing hostility of Northern states toward slavery, their failure to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act, and Lincoln's anti-slavery stance as the primary reasons for secession. This all eventual lead to the start of the civil war.
  • Confederate forces fire on Fort Sumter

    Confederate forces fire on Fort Sumter
    The Confederate forces, under the command of Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard, opened fire on the Union-held Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861, after demanding its surrender. For 34 hours, the Confederates bombarded the fort with artillery and heated shot, setting fire to the wooden structures inside. On April 13, with supplies nearly exhausted and the fort heavily damaged, Union Major Robert Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter to the Confederate forces.
  • Richmond becomes the capital of the Confederacy

    Richmond becomes the capital of the Confederacy
    Virginia seceded from the Union after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861, and the Confederate government decided to relocate its capital from Montgomery, Alabama to the more strategically important city of Richmond. This move was made in May 1861 due to Virginia's symbolic importance, large population, industrial capacity, and defensible terrain with rivers and mountains.
  • First Battle of Bull Run is fought

    First Battle of Bull Run is fought
    The First Battle of Bull Run, also known as the First Battle of Manassas, near Manassas, Virginia between the Union forces under Brigadier General Irvin McDowell and the Confederate forces under Generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Joseph E. Johnston. The Union plan for a surprise flank attack was poorly executed, allowing Confederate reinforcements time to arrive by rail, and the battle ended in a Confederate victory that dashed hopes for a quick Union victory to put down the rebellion.
  • Jefferson Davis elected president of the Confederacy

    Jefferson Davis elected president of the Confederacy
    Jefferson Davis was elected as the provisional president of the Confederate States of America on February 9, 1861 by the Provisional Confederate Congress in Montgomery, Alabama. He was inaugurated on February 18, 1861, declaring that the "South is determined to maintain her position, and make all who oppose her smell Southern powder and feel Southern steel." After Virginia seceded in April 1861, the Confederate capital was moved to Richmond, and Davis was elected to a 6 year term as president.
  • The Merrimac and the Monitor fight of the Virginia coast

    The Merrimac and the Monitor fight of the Virginia coast
    The Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862 was the first clash between ironclad warships, the Confederate Virginia and the Union Monitor. For over four hours, the two ships exchanged point-blank fire, with their armored hulls allowing them to withstand repeated hits that would have sunk most wooden ships, but neither was able to inflict fatal damage on the other. Though tactically indecisive, the battle was important as the Monitor prevented Virginia from breaking the Union blockade.
  • Battle of Shiloh

    Battle of Shiloh
    The Battle of Shiloh, fought on April 6-7, 1862 in southwestern Tennessee, was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. On day one, the Confederate forces launched a surprise attack on Grant's Union Army of the Tennessee encamped at Pittsburg Landing, driving them back towards the Tennessee River. However, Grant was reinforced at night, and on April 7 his combined forces with Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio counterattacked, making the Confederates to retreat.
  • Robert E. Lee is named commander of the Army of Northern Virginia

    Robert E. Lee is named commander of the Army of Northern Virginia
    Robert E. Lee was appointed commander of the Army of Northern Virginia on June 1, 1862, after the wounding of Joseph E. Johnston at the Battle of Seven Pines. As the army's new leader, Lee would go on to lead the Army of Northern Virginia in its greatest victories at Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, as well as its most devastating defeats at Antietam and Gettysburg.
  • Battle of Antietam

    Battle of Antietam
    The Battle of Antietam, fought on September 17, 1862, was the single bloodiest day of the American Civil War with over 22,000 casualties. General Robert E. Lee's Confederate forces were stopped from invading the North after fierce fighting around the Cornfield, West Woods, Bloody Lane, and Burnside Bridge against General George B. McClellan's Union Army of the Potomac. Though a draw, Antietam is considered a Union victory that allowed President Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Lincoln suspends habeas corpus

    Lincoln first suspended the writ of habeas corpus in April 1861 along the military lines between Philadelphia and Washington D.C. to prevent Confederate sympathizers from disrupting troop movements and supply lines. In September 1862, he issued a proclamation suspending habeas corpus nationwide for the duration of the Civil War, allowing for the indefinite detention of anyone discouraging enlistments, resisting draft orders, or aiding the rebellion.
  • Emancipation Proclamation is announced

    Emancipation Proclamation is announced
    The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, declared that all enslaved people in the Confederate states in rebellion against the Union "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free." It did not immediately free any slaves, as it applied only to areas outside Union control, but it fundamentally transformed the Civil War into a struggle against slavery. The proclamation also authorized the enlistment of Black soldiers into the Union army and navy.
  • Battle of Chancellorsville

    Battle of Chancellorsville
    The Battle of Chancellorsville, fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863 was a major victory for the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee over the much larger Union Army of the Potomac commanded by Joseph Hooker. Lee audaciously divided his forces, leaving a small portion to defend Fredericksburg while sending Stonewall Jackson's corps on a risky flank march.
  • Battle of Gettysburg

    Battle of Gettysburg
    The Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1-3, 1863, was a decisive Union victory that marked a major turning point in the Civil War. On July 3rd, Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordered a massive assault known as Pickett's Charge against the Union center on Cemetery Ridge, resulting in devastating losses for the Confederates and their failure to break the Union lines. With over 50,000 casualties, Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the war and ended Lee's invasion of the North.
  • Confederates surrender at Vicksburg

    Confederates surrender at Vicksburg
    After a 47-day siege, Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg and his Confederate garrison of nearly 30,000 men to Major General Ulysses S. Grant on July 4, 1863. This victory gave the Union complete control of the Mississippi River, severing the Confederacy and denying it access to vital supplies from the west. Combined with the Union victory at Gettysburg the previous day, the fall of Vicksburg is considered one of the turning points of the Civil War.
  • New York City draft riots

    New York City draft riots
    The NYC draft riots of 1863 were a violent uprising against the federal draft for the Union Army. The riots began on July 13th when protesters attacked a draft office, and over the next four days the mobs lynched at least a dozen African Americans, burned down an orphanage for black children, and destroyed numerous buildings and businesses. Though initially sparked by resentment over the draft, the riots quickly devolved into a race riot targeting the city's African American population.
  • Lincoln gives his Gettysburg Address

    Lincoln gives his Gettysburg Address
    Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four months after the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg. In just 272 words, Lincoln honored the Union soldiers who died defending the nation.
  • Atlanta is captured

    Atlanta is captured
    After a series of battles around Atlanta in July 1864, Union forces under General William T. Sherman were able to cut the city's supply lines, forcing the Confederate army under General John B. Hood to abandon their defenses. On September 1st, Hood led his troops out of Atlanta, and the next day Mayor James M. Calhoun surrendered the city to Sherman's forces, marking a pivotal victory for the Union.
  • Abraham Lincoln defeats George McClellan to win re-election

    Abraham Lincoln defeats George McClellan to win re-election
    Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as President in 1864, defeating Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, his former general of the Union Army. Despite the ongoing Civil War and early doubts about his re-election prospects, Lincoln secured victory by carrying 22 of the 25 participating states and winning 55% of the popular vote. His re-election ensured the continuation of the war effort to preserve the Union and the eventual abolition of slavery through the 13th Amendment.
  • Sherman begins his March to the Sea

    Sherman begins his March to the Sea
    On November 15, 1864, Union General William T. Sherman began his March to the Sea, leading 60,000 soldiers from Atlanta towards Savannah in a campaign of total war against the Confederate South. Cutting a path of destruction 60 miles wide, Sherman's forces lived off the land, confiscating supplies, livestock, and destroying infrastructure like railroads and mills to undermine the Confederacy.
  • Congress passes the 13th Amendment

    Congress passes the 13th Amendment
    The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed on January 31, 1865, abolished slavery and involuntary servitude throughout the United States. Though the Emancipation Proclamation had freed slaves in Confederate-held areas in 1863, the 13th Amendment permanently outlawed the institution of slavery nationwide and laid the groundwork for the abolition of the Southern system of slave labor upon which the Confederacy depended.
  • Freedman's Bureau is created

    Freedman's Bureau is created
    The Freedmen's Bureau was established by Congress on March 3, 1865 to aid formerly enslaved people and destitute whites in the post Civil War South. Lead by Union General Oliver O. Howard, the Bureau provided food, clothing, medical care, legal assistance, and established schools for freedmen, while also attempting to settle them on confiscated or abandoned lands. Though underfunded by Congress and opposed by President Andrew Johnson, the Freedmen's Bureau operated from 1865 to 1872.
  • Lincoln gives his second inaugural address

    Lincoln gives his second inaugural address
    In his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln acknowledged the immense suffering caused by the Civil War as divine punishment for the nation's sin of slavery. He urged reconciliation and binding the nation's wounds "with malice toward none, with charity for all," while resolving to care for those who "shall have borne the battle" and their families.
  • Richmond falls to the Union Army

    Richmond falls to the Union Army
    On April 2, 1865, the Confederate capital of Richmond fell to the Union Army under General Ulysses S. Grant, forcing the evacuation of Confederate President Davis and his government. The capture of Richmond, a crucial industrial and transportation hub for the South, was a hard blow to the Confederacy and came just a week before General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. With the fall of their capital, the collapse of the Confederate States of America was imminent.
  • Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox

    Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox
    On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House, ultimately ending the War in Virginia. After being surrounded and cut off from supplies, Lee realized further resistance was futile and agreed to meet at the home of Wilmer McLean to discuss surrender. Though other Confederate forces remained in the field, Lee's surrender signaled the inevitable collapse of the Confederacy.
  • Lincoln assassinated, John Wilkes Booth is killed

    Lincoln assassinated, John Wilkes Booth is killed
    John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln on April 14, 1865 by shooting him in the head while Lincoln was attending a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington. After a 12-day manhunt, Booth was tracked down to a barn in Virginia where he refused to surrender, and was fatally shot by a Union soldier on April 26, 1865. Booth's assassination of Lincoln was motivated by his Confederate sympathies and anger over Lincoln's support for Black voting rights.