Civil War Timeline

  • February 27, 1860 - Lincoln's Speech at Cooper Institute

    Abraham Lincoln addresses gathering at the Cooper Institute in New York, attacking slavery and insisting that the Federal government has "the power of restraining the extension of the institution."
  • March-June, 1860 - First Japanese Embassy

    arrives in San Francisco on March 9 en route to Washington D.C. Japan's Tokugawa government had sent its first official envoys to exchange treaty ratifications based on agreements concluded in 1858 between Townsend Harris—the first American ambassador to Japan
  • April 23-May 3, 1860 - Democratic Convention

    opens in Charleston, South Carolina. Shortly after the convention began on April 23, the Southern Democratic delegations began to press their long-rumored plan to walk out unless a plank calling for passage of a federal slave code for the territories was included in the party platform. Such a code, they hoped, would secure the practice of slavery not only in the North, but in the largely unsettled areas of the expanding nation.
  • South Carolina leaves the union

    South Carolina leaves the union
    South Carolina exceeds from the union December 20th, 1860. Followed within two months by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.
  • Lincoln Elected President

    Lincoln Elected President
    on November 6th 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected president. He became the 16th president of the union. "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free..."
  • January 3, 1861 - Georgia seizes Fort Pulaski.

    Fort Pulaski, a brick fortification on Cockspur Island, Georgia, at the mouth of the Savannah River, was built in 1829-47 by the U.S. government
  • January 4-5, 1861 - Alabama Seizes Federal Installations.

    A full week before Alabama secedes from the Union, Gov. A. B. Moore orders the seizure of federal military installations within the state.
  • January 10, 1861 - Florida Secedes from the Union.

    Florida becomes the third state to secede. On January 3, 1861, convention delegates chosen in pursuance of the act of the general assembly, approved November 30, 1860, assembled in the house of representatives in Tallahassee.
  • Jefferson Davis forms with union

  • August 6, 1861 - The First Confiscation Act.

    Congress enacts the first Confiscation Act ("An Act to confiscate Property used for Insurrectionary Purposes"), authorizing the confiscation of all property, including slaves, used actively to support the Confederacy.
  • January, 1862 - Stanton Appointed Secretry of War.

    Abraham Lincoln decides in January, 1862, to remove the conservative Simon Cameron as Secretary of War, and replace him with Edwin M. Stanton.
  • January 19, 1862 - Battle of Logan's Cross Roads

    In the first major Union victory of the war, Brig. Gen. George Thomas defeats the Confederates at Mill Springs and secures Union control of eastern Kentucky.
  • March 11, 1862 - Lincoln Become General-in-Chief.

    President Abraham Lincoln relieves George B. McClellan as general-in-chief and takes direct command of the Union armies. Gen. McClellan retains command of the Army of the Potomac.
  • April 17-May 22, 1862 - Grierson's Raid

    was a Union cavalry raid during the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. It ran from April 17, to May 2, 1863, as a diversion from Ulysses S. Grant's main attack plan on Vicksburg, Mississippi.
  • September 14, 1862 - Battle of South Mountain

    After invading Maryland in September 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee divided his army to march on and invest Harpers Ferry. The Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan pursued the Confederates to Frederick, Maryland, then advanced on South Mountain.
  • January 1, 1863 - Emancipation Proclamation.

    President Abraham Lincoln issues the final Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in territories held by Confederates and emphasizes the enlisting of black soldiers in the Union Army: ""That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.
  • February 24, 1863 - Arizona Territory Organized.

    In March 1862, the U.S. House of Representatives, devoid of the southern delegates and controlled by Republicans, passed a bill to create the United States Arizona Territory using the north-south border of the 107th meridian.
  • April 24, 1863 - Confederate Tax Act.

    After months of bickering, and driven by the necessity of finding a way to finance the war effort, the Confederate Congress passes a comprehensive tax act.
  • June 20, 1863 - West Virginia Admitted to the Union.

    West Virginia (formed from several pro-Union Virginia counties and calling for the abolition of slavery in its constitution) is admitted to the Union as the 35th state (counting the eleven that had seceded).
  • December 8, 1863 - Lincoln's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction.

    Abraham Lincoln issues his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. In this early plan for reintegrating the South with the Union, Lincoln offered a full pardon to any Southerner, except those who had held high offices in the Confederacy and those who had mistreated black prisoners of war.
  • January 13, 1864 - Death of Stephen Foster.

    Stephen Foster died impoverished while living at the North American Hotel at 30 Bowery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan (possessing exactly 38 cents) at the age of 37.
  • February 17, 1864 - The Hunley Submarine.

    On the night of February 17, 1864, the Hunley drove its harpoon torpedo into the the side of the U.S.S. Housatonic, exploding the charge as the submarine backed off and sinking the Union blockade ship in minutes.
  • April 22, 1864 - Coinage Act of 1864.

    The United States Congress passes the Coinage Act of 1864 which mandates that the inscription "In God We Trust" be placed on all coins minted as United States currency.
  • May 11, 1864 - Battle of Yellow Tavern.

    As the battle between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee raged at Spotsylvania Court House, the Union cavalry corps under Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan embarked on a cavalry raid against Richmond.
  • May 18, 1864 - The Gold Hoax.

    The Civil War Gold Hoax was perpetrated by two U.S. journalists to exploit the financial situation during 1864. On May 18, 1864, two New York City newspapers, the New York World and the New York Journal of Commerce, published a story that President Abraham Lincoln had issued a proclamation of conscription of 400,000 more men into the Union army.
  • January 15, 1865 - Capture of Fort Fisher, N.C.

    After the failure of his December expedition against Fort Fisher, Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler was relieved of command. Maj. Gen. Alfred Terry was placed in command of a "Provisional Corps," including Paine's Division of U.S. Colored Troops, and supported by a naval force of nearly 60 vessels, to renew operations against the fort. After a preliminary bombardment directed by Rear Adm.
  • March 16, 1865 - Battle of Averasborough.

    The Battle of Averasborough was a prelude to the Battle of Bentonville three days later. Gen. William T. Sherman was moving his army north towards Goldsboro, North Carolina, in two columns.
  • April 1, 1865 - Battle of Five Forks.

    Gen. Robert E. Lee orders George E. Pickett to hold the vital crossroads of Five Forks, southwest of Petersburg, Virginia, at all hazard. ("Five Forks" referred to the intersection of the White Oak Road, Scott's Road, Ford's (or Church) Road, and the Dinwiddie Court House Road.)
  • April 26, 1865 - John Wilkes Booth Killed.

    Union cavalry corner John Wilkes Booth in a tobacco barn in Bowling Green, Virginia. Cavalryman Boston Corbett shoots the assassin dead.
  • December 24, 1865 - The Ku Klux Klan

    is founded in Pulaski, Tenn. Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest is appointed the first Grand Wizard. In its original incarnation, the Ku Klux Klan sought to protect Whites in the South from dangers both real and imagined, and opposed the reforms enforced on the South by federal troops regarding the treatment of former slaves, often using violence to achieve its goals.