Civil War Timeline

Timeline created by Sara Griggs
  • Underground Railroad

    Underground Railroad
    As a result of the Fugitive Slave Act, Northerners and free African Americans created the Underground Railroad; a system of escape routes developed to hide and protect fugitive slaves. "Conductors" on the routes hid fugitives in secret tunnels and false cupboards, and provided them with food & clothes and escorted them to the next "station". It went from 1810 to 1850
  • Harriet Tubman

    Harriet Tubman
    Harriet Tubman was born a slave in Maryland in 1820/1821. In 1849, after her owner died, afraid of being sold, she ran away and reached Philadelphia. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, she became a conductor of the underground railroad. She made 19 trips back to the South, and allegedly helped 300 slaves, including her parents, flee to freedom.
  • Abolition

    Abolition was the movement to abolish slavery in the 19th Century, and was the most important of a series of reform movements in America. It went from the 1830's to 1870.
  • The Liberator

    The Liberator
    The Liberator was written by a young editor in Massachusetts, William Lloyd Garrison. The newspaper was to deliver an uncompromising demand: immediate emancipation. It was all about abolishing slavery.
  • Nat Turner's Rebellion

    Nat Turner's Rebellion
    In August 1831, slave Nat Turner and over 50 followers attacked 4 plantations and killed about 60 whites. Whites eventually captured and executed many members of the group, including Turner. This rebellion outraged and frightened slave owners.
  • The North Star

    The North Star
    The North Star was an anti slavery newspaper created by Frederick Douglass. It ran from 1847 to 1851. He named it after the star that guided runaway slaves to freedom.
  • Compromise of 1850

    Compromise of 1850
    After gaining new territories, there were disputes over which states would be slave states. This was solved with the Compromise of 1850, which decided on popular sovereignty for residents of the New Mexico and Utah territories, as well as admitting California into the Union as a free state.
  • Fugitive Slave Act

    Fugitive Slave Act
    Under this law, alleged fugitive slaves were not entitled to a trial by jury, and anyone convicted of helping a fugitive was liable for a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment for up to 6 months. Some Northerners resisted by creating "vigilance" communities" to send endangered African Americans to Canada.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Uncle Tom's Cabin
    In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe published her novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin", which stressed that slavery wasn't just a political contest, but also a great moral struggle. She was not a slave, but had seen the hardships of slaves her whole life, which garnered her hatred for slavery. The book stirred Northern Abolitionists to increase their protests against the Fugitive Slave Act.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act

    Kansas-Nebraska Act
    When Kansas and Nebraska entered the Union, there was disagreement on whether they should be slave states or free states. They were north of the Missouri Compromise line of 36degrees30', so it was legally closed to slavery, however, Stephen Douglas proposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would divide the area into two states, as well as subject each to popular sovereignty.
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford

    Dred Scott v. Sandford
    Dred Scott was a slave in Missouri whose owner had brought him to live in Illinois, a free state. Eventually, they returned to Missouri. Scott believed that since he had lived in free territory, he should be free. In 1854, he sued the federal court for his freedom. The court ruled against him, and he appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme court ruled that as an African American, he did not even have the right to file a lawsuit. He remained enslaved.
  • Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas Debates

    Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas Debates
    In 1858, there was a race for the U.S. Senate between democratic incumbent Douglas and republican congressman Lincoln. Douglas was a two term senator and Lincoln had one term to congress in 1846. Lincoln challenged Douglas to a series of debates about slavery. Douglas wanted popular sovereignty, and Lincoln believed slavery was immoral. Douglas won, but Lincoln's vehement attacks on the moral evil of slavery drew national attention and people wanted him to become president in 1860.
  • John Brown's Raid / Harper's Ferry

    John Brown's Raid / Harper's Ferry
    On October 16, 1859, John Brown led a band of 21 men, black and white, into Harper's Ferry, Virginia(now west). His goal was to seize federal arsenal there and start a slave uprising. Instead, troops put down the rebellion and authorities executed Brown. Public reaction was large; In the North crowds denounced the South, while in the South, mobs assaulted whites suspected of harboring anti-slavery views.
  • Abraham Lincoln becomes President

    Abraham Lincoln becomes President
    In the 1860 election, Republicans voted for Lincoln. However, many Southerners viewed him as the enemy, and even refused to put his name on their ballots. He ran against Stephen Douglas, vice president John C. Breckinridge, and John bell. Lincoln won, with less than half of the popular vote, and no electoral votes from the south.
  • Income Tax

    Income Tax
    As the Northern Economy grew, Congress decided to help pay for the war by collecting the nation's first income tax; a tax that takes a specified percentage of an individual's income. It was apart of the Revenue Act of 1861, (3% of all incomes over US $800; rescinded in 1872).
  • Formation of the Confederacy

    Formation of the Confederacy
    Lincoln's victory convinced southerners that they had lost their political voice in the national government, leading to S. Carolina seceding from the Union on December 20 1860. Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed its lead. In February 1861, the states met in Montgomery Alabama and formed the Confederate States of America, or the Confederacy. It protected and recognised slavery in new territories. The states unanimously elected Jefferson Davis as president.
  • Attack on Fort Sumter

    Attack on Fort Sumter
    Confederate soldiers seized federal forts. By Lincoln's inauguration, only 4 Southern forts remained in federal hands. Most importantly, Fort Sumter, an island in Charleston Harbor. At 4:30 am on April 12, Confederate Batteries began thundering away to the cheers of the citizens. News of Fort Sumter's fall united the Northerners.
  • Battle of Bull Run

    Battle of Bull Run
    The first bloodshed on the battlefield occurred near the little creek of Bull Run, 25 miles from Washington D.C. In the morning, the Union had the upper hand, but the Confederates held firm, inspired by general Thomas J Jackson; Stonewall Jackson. In the afternoon, Confederate reinforcements helped win the first Southern victory. Fortunately for the Union, the confederates were too exhausted to follow up their victory with an attack on Washington. Many Confederate soldiers left the army.
  • Battle at Antietam

    Battle at Antietam
    Union General George McClellan ordered his men to pursue Robert E Lee near Antietam. The clash was the bloodiest 1 day battle in American history, with over 26,000 casualties. The next day, instead of pursuing the weakened confederate army into Virginia and possibly ending the war, McClellan did nothing. As a result, Lincoln removed him from command.
  • Emancipation Proclamation

    Emancipation Proclamation
    On January 1st, Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. It stated that all people held as slaves within these parts of the states would now be free. He also asked for all the freed to keep from violence except self defence, that they labor faithfully for reasonable wages, and that any people in suitable conditions join the army. It didn't free any slaves immediately because it only applied to confederate states, but did give many a moral purpose to fight in the war and provide assistance.
  • Conscription

    As fighting intensified and widespread desertions occurred, each side imposed conscription, a draft that forced men to serve in the army. In the North, this caused riots; the most violent in New York city.
  • Battle at Vicksburg

    Battle at Vicksburg
    While Meade's army was defending Gettysburg, Union General Ulysses S Grant tried to take Vicksburg, 1 of 2 remaining Confederate strongholds on the Mississippi. Grant sent Benjamin Grierson to lead his men through the heart of Mississippi. Grierson destroyed rail lines, distracted Confederate troops, got his men south of Vicksburg on April 30. In 18 days, the union sacked Jackson, state capitol. By end of May, Grant sieged Vicksburg. The city surrendered on July 4. The Confederacy was cut in 2.
  • Battle at Gettysburg

    Battle at Gettysburg
    The battle began on July 1st, when Confederate soldiers led by A.P. Hill encountered several Union Brigades by Union cavalry led by John Buford. By the end of the first day of fighting, 90,000 Union troops (George Meade) vs 75,000 Confederates (General Lee). By the 2nd day, the Confederates took Gettysburg; the North still held positions. July 3, two hours of firing. The North surprise attacked, and Lee conceded. 23,000 Union men & 28,000 Confederates were killed/wounded.
  • Gettysburg Address

    Gettysburg Address
    In November, a ceremony was held to dedicate a cemetery in Gettysburg. President Lincoln spoke for over 2 minutes, and the speech is said to have remade America. Before the speech, people said "The United States are..", but after, people said "The United States is...". The speech helped people realize that this was not just a collection of individual states; it was one unified nation.
  • Sherman's March

    Sherman's March
    William Tecumseh Sherman was commander of the military division in Mississippi. Spring of 1864, he began his march SouthEast through Georgia to the sea, creating a wide path of destruction. His army burned most houses in its path, and destroyed livestock & animals. Sherman was determined to make Southerners sick of the war. By mid-November, he had burned most of Atlanta. After reaching the ocean, Sherman's forces and 25,000 former slaves turned North to help Grant "wipe out Lee".
  • Surrender at Appomattox Court House

    Surrender at Appomattox Court House
    On April 3 1865, the Union conquered Richmond, the Confederate Capital. Southerners had abandoned the city the day before, setting it afire to keep the North from taking it. On April 9, in the Virginia town Appomattox Courthouse, Grant and Lee met at a private home to discuss the Confederate Surrender. At Lincoln's request the terms were kind. Grant Paroled Lee's troops and sent them home with their stuff and 3 days' rations. Officers kept their side arms. After 4 years, the Civil war ended.
  • Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

    Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
    April 14, 5 days after Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Lincoln and his wife went to Ford's theatre to see a British comedy "Our American Cousin". During its 3rd act, a man crept behind Lincoln and shot him in the back of the head. He died on April 15. It was the 1st assassination of a U.S. president. The assassin, 26 year old actor and South Sympathizer John Wilkes Booth, lept from the presidential box & escaped. 12 days later, Union cavalry found him in a Virginia tobacco shed & shot him dead.
  • The Thirteenth Amendment.

    The Thirteenth Amendment.
    The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified at the end of 1865. The U.S. Constitution now stated, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.".