Civil War Timeline


Abraham Lincoln is elected to the Presidency

November 6, 1860
  • Southern states believed that Lincoln intended to eliminate or restrict slavery
  • He was the first president from the Republican Party
  • The votes of the Electoral College were split among four candidates in the 1860 presidential election

Anaconda Plan

Approx. 1861
  • Intended as a way to end the rebellion through mostly economic measures, thereby preventing a bloody war.
  • The basic plan was to blockade the saltwater ports of the South and to stop all commerce on the Mississippi River so no cotton could be exported and no war supplies could be imported.
  • Nicknamed the Anaconda Plan because it would strangle the Confederacy the way the anaconda snake constricts its victim.

The Confederacy is founded

February, 1861
  • Jefferson davis was the confederate president
  • The Confederate States of America consisted of the governments of 11 - Southern states that seceded from the Union in 1860-61
  • Carrying on all the affairs of a separate government and conducting a major war until defeated in the spring of 1865.

Jefferson Davis is elected as President for the South

November 6, 1861
  • Jefferson Davis was a Mexican War hero
  • U.S. senator from Mississippi, U.S. secretary of war
  • President of the Confederate States of America for the duration of the American Civil War

Emancipation Proclamation is introduced

January 1, 1863
  • The Emancipation Proclamation led the way to total abolition of slavery in the United States
  • With the Emancipation Proclamation, the aim of the war changed to include the freeing of slaves in addition to preserving the Union
  • The Emancipation Proclamation was a firm demonstration of the President’s executive war powers

Lincoln delivers Gettysburg Address

November 19, 1863
  • It renewed part of our original belief system: all men created equal
  • It elevated the war to a higher purpose: abolishing slavery
  • It suggested that freedom and equality would apply to everyone

Sherman's March to the Sea

November 15, 1864 - December 21, 1864
  • Union General William T. Sherman led some 60,000 soldiers on a 285-mile march from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia.
  • The purpose of this was to frighten Georgia’s civilian population into abandoning the Confederate cause.
  • Sherman’s soldiers did not destroy any of the towns in their path, but they stole food and livestock and burned the houses and barns of people who tried to fight back.

Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox Courthouse

April 9, 1865
  • On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his approximately 28,000 troops to Union General Ulysses S. Grant
  • Days earlier, Lee had abandoned Richmond and Petersburg, hoping to escape with the remnants of his Army of Northern Virginia, meet up with additional Confederate forces in North Carolina and resume fighting.
  • Union forces cut off his final retreat, Lee was forced to surrender, finally ending four years of bloody sectional conflict.

President Lincoln is assassinated

April 15, 1865
  • Was the first American president to be assassinated
  • Was mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth in the Presidential Box of Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., while watching the comedy, Our American Cousin
  • The assassination of Lincoln was planned and carried out by the well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth, as part of a larger conspiracy in a bid to revive the Confederate cause.

The 13th Amendement is passed

December 6, 1865
  • Officially abolished slavery in America, and was ratified on December 6, 1865, after the conclusion of the American Civil War [Passed by the U.S. Senate (which was dominated by Republicans) on April 8, 1864.]
  • However, the amendment died in the U.S. House of Representatives as Democrats rallied in the name of states’ rights.
  • On January 31, 1865, the amendment passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 119 to 56, seven votes above the necessary two-thirds majority.

Andrew Johnson ends the Civil War

August 20, 1866
  • Assumed office after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln
  • The only senator from the South to remain loyal to the Union after his state seceded.
  • In 1866, Johnson vetoed the Freedmen’s Bureau bill and the Civil Rights bill, legislation aimed at protecting blacks.


Battle of Fort Sumter

April 12, 1861 - April 14th, 1861
  • The first battle of the American Civil War
  • The United States began building Fort Sumter after the War of 1812 to strengthen the defense of its southern ports
  • After 3 1/2 days of battle, Union troops, led by Major Robert Anderson, surrendered

Battle of Bull Run

July 21, 1861
  • Was the first major battle of the civil war
    • Resulting in a confederate victory
    • It showed the civil war would not be won easily

Battle of Shiloh

April 6, 1862 - April 7, 1862
  • Significance was that the union strategy was working and it showed how deadly war would be
  • 23, 746 man in all died
  • The US won the Battle of Shiloh

Battle of Antietam

September 17, 1862
  • The battle Of Antietam was a union victory in the civil war that marked the bloodiest single-day battle in US history
  • Was the bloodiest battle of the war resulting in 25,000 casualties
  • It allowed Abraham Lincoln to issue to Emancipation Proclamation

Battle of Fredricksburg

December 11, 1862 - December 15, 1862
  • This battle lasted for a total of 4 days but most of the fighting took place on December 13
  • The North's plan was to cross the Rappahannock River and then race to the capitol of the South ( Richmond V.A ) before Lee's army could stop them
  • The North had about 114,000 men engaged. The south however had a much smaller 72,500 men engaged. The total number of men engaged in combat was around 186,500

Battle of Chancellorville

April 30, 1863 - May 6, 1863
  • The Confederates under Robert E. Lee defeated the Union forces under Joseph Hooker
    • General Jackson was killed by friendly fire
  • One of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War

Battle of Vicksburg

May 18, 1863 - July 4, 1863
  • Was a significant Union victory in the American Civil War because it gave the Union army complete control over the Mississippi River
  • The battle lasted for 48 days
  • It was one of the most pivotal victories of the wa

Battle of Gettysburg

July 1, 1863 - July 3, 1863
  • The Battle Of Gettysburg was a 3 day battle in Pennsylvania which was a union victory and turned the tide against the confederates in the civil war
  • Lee led his army through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North in May 1863
  • Lee’s men retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle