Civil War Timeline

  • The First Few States Secede From the Union

    The First Few States Secede From the Union
    South Carolina secedes from the Union. Followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Lousiana, and Texas in February. Later in the month of February, the Confederate States were born with Jefferson Davis as president.
  • The First Battle of the War

    The First Battle of the War
    At 4:30 in the morning, Confederates under General Pierre Beauregard opened fire with 50 cannons on Fort Sumter in Charleston South Carolina. This is the beginning of the Civil War.
  • Lincoln Takes Action

    Lincoln Takes Action
    President Lincoln issues a Proclamation, calling for 75,000 militiamen, and summoning a special session of Congress.
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    More States Secede and Join The Confederacy

    Virginia seceded followed by, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. This would mess with the North's economy because the north relied on southern states for resources.
  • Preparations Are Made

    Preparations Are Made
    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 Stays Loyal to His State

    Lee Stays Loyal to His State
    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.
  • First Bull Run

    First Bull Run
    The Union army suffered a loss at Bull Run. The Union general Irvin McDowell was no match for Confederate general Thomas J. Jackson. It was at this battle that President Lincoln realized this was going to be a long violent war.
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    Ulysses S. Grant Captures Forts

    Ulysses S. Grant led the Union to victory over the Confederates at Fort Henry. Ten days later he had another victory over Fort Donelson. He captured two forts within ten days between each other. This was a big social effect of the war because it gave the Union a lot of hope.
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    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. Once again the Union Army retreats to Washington.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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 battle.
  • Battle of Gettysburg

    The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, the Union victory that ended General Robert E. Lee's second and most ambitious invasion of the North. Often referred to as the "High Water Mark of the Rebellion", Gettysburg was the Civil War's bloodiest battle and was also the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln's immortal "Gettysburg Address".
  • The Battle of Chickamauga

    The Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia. The Union Army of the Cumberland under General William Rosecrans is defeated and nearly routed by the Confederate Army of Tennessee commanded by General Braxton Bragg. Rosecrans' army retreats to the supply base at Chattanooga, Tennessee.
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    Chattanooga Campaign

    Confederate forces under Braxton Bragg surround the occupied city. General Ulysses S. Grant is assigned to command the troops there and begins immediate plans to relieve the besieged Union army.
  • Battle of Chantanooga

    The Battle for Chattanooga. Union forces break the Confederate siege of the city in successive attacks. The most notable event is the storming of Lookout Mountain on November 24 and the Battle of Missionary Ridge the following day. The decisive Union victory sends the Confederate Army south into Georgia where General Bragg reorganizes his forces before resigning from command on November 30.
  • Battle of the Wilderness

    The opening battle of the "Overland Campaign" or "Wilderness Campaign". General Ulysses S. Grant, accompanying the Army of the Potomac under General Meade, issued orders for the campaign to begin on May 3. Lee responded by attacking the Union column in the dense woods and underbrush of an area known as the Wilderness, west of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Additionally, this battle was the first northern offensive move.
  • Grant makes a mistake

    A mistake by Grant ends with 7,000 Union casualties in twenty minutes during an offensive against fortified Rebels at Cold Harbor in Virginia.
  • Abraham Lincoln is re-elected president

    Abraham Lincoln is re-elected president, defeating Democrat George B. McClellan.
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    Thomas beats Hood

    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.
  • Sherman gives Lincoln a present

    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.
  • Congress approves the Thirteenth Amendment

    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 tries for diplomacy

    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 - the war will continue.
  • Lee's final push

    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.
  • 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

    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.
  • Joseph E. Johnston surrenders

    Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrenders to Sherman near Durham in North Carolina.
  • Wilkes Booth Shot

    John Wilkes Booth is shot and killed in a tobacco barn in Virginia.
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    Remaining confederates surrender

    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.
  • Slavery is abolished

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