The American Civil War : Important Dates 1820-1865

Timeline created by cmmonfort
In History
  • The Missouri Compromise

    The Missouri Compromise
    The Missouri Compromise was centered around the issue of slavery westward expansion. In 1819, residents of the Missouri Territory petitioned Congress for admission to the Union with a constitution permitting slavery. Missouri's admission to the Union would give the slaveholding states a two-voting majority in the Senate. It would also thrust slavery westward and northward. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory, except within the boundaries of Missouri.
  • Nat Turner's Slave Insurrection

    Nat Turner's Slave Insurrection
    Nat Turner, and enslaved American, led a band of rebels from farm to farm in Southampton County, Virginia, on the morning of August 22, 1831. In 48 hours, Turner and his rebels slaughtered 60 whites of both sexes and ages. In retaliation, whites killed slaves at random all over the region, totaling some 200 African American men.
  • The Compromise of 1850

    The Compromise of 1850
    The Compromise of 1850 was a series of five bills passed to reach a decision regarding the territories gained during the Mexican-American War. California became a free state, New Mexico and Utah were organized on basis of popular sovereignty, the fugitive slave law was strengthened, and the slave trade was abolished in D.C. Stephen Douglas passed the five proposals without convincing the North and South to agree on fundamental differences.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Uncle Tom's Cabin
    Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, depicting the inhumane reality of slavery and its evil effects on slaveholders, criticized northern racism and complicitly with slavery. More than 300,000 copies were sold in the first nine months of its publication, and by mid-1953, that number increased to over 1 million. In response, 15-20 proslavery novels were published in the 1850s, defending their system as more humane than wage labor.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act

    Kansas-Nebraska Act
    The Kansas-Nebraska Act created Kansas and Nebraska territories, and exposed conflicting interpretations of popular sovereignty. The availability of millions of acres caused pro- and anti-slavery cohorts fled to Kansas and Nebraska, with the hopes of using popular sovereignty to their advantage. It repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1850.
  • Bleeding Kansas

    Bleeding Kansas
    During elections for a territorial legislature in 1855, thousands of pro-slavery Missourians invaded the polls and ran up a fraudulent majority for pro-slavery candidates, by murdering and intimidating free state settlers. In May, a pro-slavery group was sent to arrest Free Soil members, and sacked Lawrence, Kansas, killing several people and destroying property. John Brown, a radical abolitionist with a band of followers, murdered five proslavery settlers living along Pottawatomie Creek.
  • Dred Scott vs. Sandford Supreme Court Case

    Dred Scott vs. Sandford Supreme Court Case
    Missouri slave, Dred Scott, sued for freedom with his wife Harriet Robinson Scott. The Supreme Court's decision, which came to 7-2, stated that African Americans, whether slave or free, could not be American citizens and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States. This decision asserted that the founders had never intended for black people to become citizens.
  • John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry

    John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry
    John Brown led an armed rebellion through Harper's Ferry on the philosophy of "an eye for an eye," and that the destruction of slavery in America required revolutionary ideology and revolutionary acts. On October 16, Brown led a band of 18 whites and blacks in an attack on the federal arsenal, hoping to trigger a slave rebellion. The attack was unsuccessful, and Brown was executed in December in Charles Town, Virginia. Brown became an imfamous martyr and a villain in American history.
  • Election of 1860

    Election of 1860
    The Democratic Party, divided on the expansion of slavery and the rights of slave owners, broke into northern and southern sections. Abraham Lincoln, the Republican, collected the majority of electoral votes, only polled 40% of the popluar vote, and was not on the ballot in 10 slave states. Lincoln was opposed to slavery's westward expansion, and it was the first election where losers refused to accept the result. Before Lincoln's inauguration, seven Southern states declared their secession.
  • Secession!

    Secession!
    South Carolina passed an ordinance of secession amid jubilation and cheering, soon to be followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas in 1861.
  • Attack on Fort Sumter

    Attack on Fort Sumter
    Lincoln sought to hold onto forts in the states that had left the Union, reasoning that in this way he could assert federal sovereignty while waiting for restoration. On April 12, 1861, Lincoln sent a ship to the garrison to resupply its food reserves. Confederate batteries opened fire on the unwelcome ship, taking the garrison by force during the 24 hour siege. These shots started the American Civil War.
  • First Battle of Bull Run

    In Manassas Junction, Virginia, General Irvin McDowell and 30,000 Union troops attacked General P.G.T. Beauregard's 22,000 Confederate soldiers. After reinforcements of 9,000 men, the Confederacy won the battle. The prolonged conflict of Bull Run signaled that victory would not come easy. It also resulted in Southern regional loyalty, when 500,000 southern men volunteered for duty.
  • Battle of Antietam

    The Battle of Antietam, which began on September 17, 1862 and ended the next day, was the bloodiest day of battle in the Civil War. General McClellan turned General Lee back from Sharpsburg, Maryland, but the battle was tactically inconclusive, and the Confederate troops had withdrawn first from the battlefield, making it a Union victory. There were 22,717 total casualties. It had significance as enough of a victory to give Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation.
  • 1st Emancipation Proclamation

    After the Battle of Antietam, President Lincoln issued his prelimary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that he would emancipate slaves in the states "in rebellion." This served as a threat to southerners, stating that they would lose slaves if they did not cease fighting and returned to Congress. This document was morally and politically significant. It also discouraged the British or French from intervening in the Civil War and supporting the Confederacy.
  • Southern Bread Riots

    Southern Bread Riots
    Beginning March 29, 1863 and ending July 4, 1863, women protested the lack of governmental support in Southern cities including Atlanta, Macon, Columbus, and August Georgia, and Salisburg and High Point, North Carolina. These were events of civil unrest in the Confederacy, portraying discontent with the government's inabilityt o provide for soldiers' wives.
  • Battle of Chancellorsville

    The Battle of Chancellorsville was a remarkable southern victory. 130,000 Union soldiers faced 60,000 Confederate soldiers, but due to strategic and tactical strengths, the Confederacy gained a victory; however, the Confederacy also lost Stonewall Jackson due to complications with pneumonia after he was accientally shot by one of his own men.
  • Battle of Vicksburg

    Battle of Vicksburg
    The Battle of Vicksburg began on May 18, 1863 and ended on July 4, 1863 with a Confederate surrender. This surrendered the last major fortification on the Mississippi River in southern hands.
  • Battle of Gettysburg

    Battle of Gettysburg
    The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863, and ended on July 4, 1863. The result of the battle left federal forces in possession of high ground along the Cemetary Ridge, Pennsylvania. This was the Confederacy's fourth withdrawal, having suffered almost 4,000 dead, and 24,000 missing and wounded. The Union suffered 23,000 casualties. The battle involved the largest number of casualties throughout the war. Following the battle, President Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.
  • New York City Draft Riots

    Between July 13 and July 16, 1863, working class men participated in violent disturbances to protest the Union's new conscription laws. These draft laws allowed for substitutes or commutations, although these options were only available to wealthy men, resulting in lower and middle-class workers being forced into duty. 118,000 substitutes were provided and 87,000 commutations were paid. As a result of the riots, 120 men were killed and 2,000 were wounded.
  • Presidential Election of 1864

    Incumbent President Lincoln faced George B. McClellan in the 1864 election. Lincoln secured 78% of the soldier vote, winning 55% of the popular vote. Lincoln's reelection was effectively a referendum on the war of emancipation.
  • Sherman's March to the Sea

    Beginning November 15, 1864 and ending December 21, 1864, Major General William Sherman marched his troops from Georgia to South Carolina, cutting a path 50-60 miles wide and more than 200 miles long. Sherman and his men burned as they marched, destroying military targets as well as industry, infrastructure, and civilian property.
  • Appomattox Court House Surrender

    General Lee of the Confederate Army, short of rations and less than 30,000 men left, surrendered RIchmond and Petersburg to Union forces on April 9, 1865. It marked the end of the war and beginning of the reconstruction period. 360,000 Union soldiers died, and 275,175 Union soldiers were wounded from battle but survived. 260,000 Confederate soldiers died. 30,218 of 194,743 northerners died in southern prisons, while 25,976 of 214,865 southerners died in northern prisons.
  • Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

    While attending a production at the Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C., President Lincoln was shot and assassinated by stage actor John Wilkes Booth, as part of a larger conspiracy in a bid to revive the Confederate cause. Lincoln died on April 15, 1865. As a result, Vice President Andrew Johnson became President of the United States, forever changing the course of reconstruction and American history.