Civil War Timeline


Lincoln Elected

November 6, 1860

Abraham Lincoln is elected without struggle despite the lack of Southern support. Lincoln’s election would significantly impact the country over the next four years due to his view on slavery and his approach to the Civil War.

Battle of Fort Sumter

April 12, 1861

South fires the first shot at the Battle of Fort Sumter. This battle sparked the beginning of the four year Civil War which completely alter the dynamic of the United States forevermore.

Battle of Bull Creek

July 21, 1861

The Union soldiers charged with confidence to Bull Creek but the Southern military heard word of their impending attack and met them there. Union soldiers seemed to be winning but the South was ultimately victorious. This event proved to the Union and Lincoln that the end of this bloody war was nowhere in sight.

Battle of Ironclads

March 8, 1862

The ship, called the Merrimac, left behind by the Union early in the war and taken by Confederates came to Chesapeake Bay in order to destroy Union ships. The Merrimac, however, was met by the Union ship the Monitor and fought for a day, exchanging shots. Neither ship won and this event proved that ironclad ships were obviously more effective, teaching both North and South a valuable lesson.

Battle of Williamsburg

May 5, 1862

Union and Confederate soldiers fight at Williamsburg, Virginia with an inconclusive victory despite the Union claiming a great win. This battle proved that both sides were skilled but smart about appropriate times to retreat.

Battle of Antietam

September 17, 1862

The two armies arrive at Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg, Maryland and fought the bloodiest battle of the Civil War resulting in 2,100 deaths and 10,300 missing/wounded soldiers. The Union claimed to have won the battle but no real victor was declared. The Battle of Antietam proved just how passionate both the North and South were about winning this war to settle everything.

Emancipation Proclamation

January 1, 1863

President Abraham Lincoln presents the Emancipation Proclamation, officially declaring the abolition of slavery in all Confederate states. The Emancipation Proclamation changed the meaning of the war for Union soldiers, altering it to more of a fight for freedom and living by the Constitution.

54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment

March 1863

The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment is formed and consisted of 1,000 African American soldiers who were trained, paid and respected less than white soldiers but still fought bravely. This proved that American ideals ran strong in all races and freedom was strongly craved all over.

Seizing of Vicksburg

May 18, 1863

Union soldiers attack Vicksburg, Mississippi via land and sea for six weeks and deprived the city of resources. After putting up as much of a fight as humanly possible, Confederates surrender Vicksburg on July 4, 1863. This made Mississippi a heavily Union populated region and Confederates were split by half.

Battle of Gettysburg

July 1, 1863

Union and Confederate soldiers join at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for a four day battle where the victory never seemed truly clear until the Union finally won on July 3. However, the fight left both sides with immense loss. This battle prevented the South from playing offense and having remain defensive on their own territory until they were able to recover.

Gettysburg Address

November 16, 1863

Lincoln presents the Gettysburg Address in dedication of the soldiers, living and dead, who were enduring the bloody war and reflect on the meaning of the war. The speech changed the mindset of the nation on what it meant to fight for freedom.

Grant Promoted to General

March 1864

Ulysses S. Grant is promoted to Commander of the Union soldiers and planned out his attack plan for the remainder of the war. Grant’s strategy would alter the way the Union attacked for the rest of the Civil War.

Grant takes Virginia

May 1864

General Grant leads his forces into Virginia, kept being beat down but continued to pursue the Confederates. He was eventually able to reinforce his army. This proved that the Union would NOT give up, especially under Grant’s command.

Sherman Destroys Atlanta

July 22, 1864

Union General Sherman takes his troops to Atlanta, Georgia with the intent of destroying the South’s most imperative rail/manufacturing center and did just that. The city was burned to the ground. The South now knew how dedicated Northerners were to destroying Confederate resources.

Sherman Seizes Savannah

November 15, 1864

After destroying most of Atlanta, Sherman led his men to Savannah, Georgia in the hopes of seizing that city as well. His troops accomplished this on December 21, 1864 and proved that the Union will not and cannot be stopped.

South Surrenders

April 9, 1865

General Lee surrenders the Confederate army to General Grant, with no other remaining options. This act brought the gory and passionate Civil War to an end.

13th Amendment Ratified

December 6, 1865

The 13th Amendment is ratified abolishing slavery in the United States. The Amendment was passed in the Senate on April 8, 1864 and in the House on January 31, 1865. This would continue to be a point of conflict in the future but would get the President’s point across that unequal treatment would not stand.