Civil War Timeline


Clement Vallandigham

May 25, 1858 - March 3, 1863

From Ohio, Clement Vallandigham was the leader of the Copperheads. He served two terms in the House of Representatives, one term being pre-war, and one term during the war. Most of his actions in politics in his House of Reps term during the wae were advocating the peace between the Confederates and the Union.

John Brown's Harper's Ferry Raid

October 16, 1859

John Brown leads 18 others in a suicidal attack on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry.

Ulysses S Grant

1861 - 1865

Grant was an aggressive general that lead many battles, including the Battle of Shiloh. He also seized Vicksburg. This victory gave the Union control of the Mississippi River, split off the western Confederacy, and opened the way for more Union triumphs. After another win at the Battle of Chattanooga in 1863, Lincoln made him lieutenant general and commander of all of the Union Armies. He also became President after Andrew Johnson.


1861 - 1865

These were members of Union that wanted an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates. They were given the name the Peace-Democrats. They also blamed the abolitionists for the war and opposed draft laws.

Ex part Merryman


Ex parte Merryman was a U.S. federal court case that was a test of the authority of the President to suspend "the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus" under the Constitution's Suspension Clause. Chief Justice Roger Taney ruled that the authority to suspend habeas corpus lay with Congress, not the president. President Lincoln ignored the ruling, as did the Army under Lincoln's orders.

Confiscation Act


The First Confiscation Act of 1861 authorized the confiscation of any Confederate property by Union forces meaning that all slaves that fought or worked for the Confederate military were freed whenever they were "confiscated" by Union troops. Lincoln opposed these acts because he thought they would push border states to lean toward the confederate side, yet he still signed them.

Winfield Scott


Although Scott was a wonderful General and man in war, by the Civil War he was too old of a man and was having too many health problems to lead an army in war, so he suggested Robert E. Lee as the new general (When Virginia seceded, Lee went with it). Scott also created the Anaconda Plan, which was a plan to blockade the south which worked pretty well. Most of Scott's help in the Civil War was in 1861.

George Meade

1861 - 1864

Meade served as a general to the Army of the Potomac, and is best known for defeating Lee in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Emancipation idealogies


Emancipation, the freeing of all slaves, was supported by many people of the Union.

Lincoln's First Inaugural Address

March 4, 1861

Addressed primarily to the people of the south, Lincoln's first inaugural address touched on the topics of slavery, saying that he had " purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.", the legal status of the South, the use of force, secession,
protection of slavery, slavery in the territories, and the postal service.

Anaconda Plan

April 1861

Proposed by Winfield Scott, the plan was going to blockade the Southern ports, and called for an advance down the Mississippi River to cut the South in two.

Ambrose Burnside

May 2, 1861 - April 15, 1865

Burnside is known as one of the most incompetent generals of the war. Although he conducted successful campaigns in North Carolina and Tennessee, he was defeated in the Battle of Fredericksburg and Battle of the Crater. The term sideburns come from his distinct facial hair.

United States Sanitary Commission

June 18, 1861

The United States Sanitary Commission was a private relief agency created by federal legislation to support sick and wounded soldiers of the U.S. Army.

Joseph Hooker

August 1861 - June 1863

Joseph Hooker achieved the position of major general in the Civil War. He is best know for being defeated by Lee in the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. Because of this defeat, Lincoln relieved him of being a general before the Battle of Gettysburg.

George McClellan

November 1861 - March 1862

George McClellan was a major general during the American Civil War and the Democratic Party candidate for President in 1864. He organized the Army of the Potomac and served briefly as the general-in-chief of the Union Army.

Morrill Land-Grant Acts


This act allowed for the passage of land-grant colleges were just regular colleges that taught science, language arts, and math, but also military tactics, agriculture, and mechanical arts.

Union Pacific/Central Pacific RR


These railroads (at first separate but later joined together) were a part of the union and were passed when the south seceded because the south didn't want it in the north.

National Bank Acts

1863 - 1864

These acts were two United States federal banking acts that established a system of national banks, and created the United States National Banking System.

Conscription Act


In 1863 Congress passed the Enrollment Act, the first national conscription law, which set up under the Union Army an system for enrolling and drafting men between twenty and forty-five years old.

National Draft Law

March 1863

In March 1863 Abraham Lincoln passed a strict Draft Law. All male citizens between twenty and thirty-five and all unmarried men between thirty-five and forty-five years of age were subject to military duty.

54th Massachusetts Regiment

March 13, 1863 - August 4, 1865

The regiment was one of the first official African American units in the United States during the Civil War. It was on the Union side and had very extensive service.

National Women's Loyal League

May 14, 1863

This group was the first United States national women's political organization. The group was formed in 1863 in New York City by women's rights activists such as Susan B. Anthony. One objective of theirs was to help abolish slavery. They gathered 400,000 signatures to petition the United States Congress, which helped in the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.

New York City Riots

July 13, 1863 - July 16, 1863

The federal government entered all eligible men into a lottery, and the reaction to the draftees of the lottery in July 1863 was very extreme. There were many riots in New York City, and the riots were some of the largest civil insurrections in American history.

Union Party


This was a temporary name used by the Republican party that helped attract War Democrats that would not vote for Republicans. This helped Abraham Lincoln win his 1864 election.

Clara Barton


Clara Barton was a pioneer American teacher, patent clerk, nurse, and humanitarian and also founded the American Red Cross. She was one of very few women to work outside of the home in her time. In 1864 she was appointed by Union General Benjamin Butler as the "lady in charge" of the hospitals at the front of the Army of the James. She is known as the "Angel of the Battlefield." She founded the American Red Cross on August 22, 1882.

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

March 4, 1865

Lincoln's second inaugural address was given when the war was coming to an end. The Union had pretty much beat the Confederates and slavery was almost abolished. He touched on Divine providence a lot, questioning God's will in the war and using many biblical references.


Kansas-Missouri border violence

1854 - 1861

Bleeding Kansas, or the Border War, was a series of violent political fights between anti-slavery "Free-Staters" and pro-slavery "Border Ruffians" , that was in the Kansas Territory and towns of Missouri between 1854 and 1861. It was a dispute whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state.

Dred Scott v. Sandford Decision

March 6, 1857

When the master of Dred Scott, a former slave, dies, Scott is legally free, but the Missouri surpreme court overules this and says that he is still a slave. Roger Taney, the chief justice, believes that blacks were not citizens, slaves were property and Congress coulnt deprive citizens of their property, and says that the Compromise of 1850 is unconstitutional.

Lincoln-Douglas Debates


Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debate. Lincoln opposes slavery but wouldnt force the states that already have slavery to give up their rights. He believes that slavery will die gradually. Although Douglas supports slavery, he denounces the Dred Scott decision under a question trap.

Buchanan's Lame-Duck Term

November 6, 1860 - March 4, 1861

In the election 1860 Lincoln was elected president and in the time after he was elected and before he was inaugurated was Buchanan's (the man already president) lame duck period.

Crittenden Compromise

December 18, 1860

Proposed by Kentucky senator John Crittenden, this compromise was not passed. It addressed the south's grievances and tried to keep them from not succeeding by proposing that slavery could be legal in all territories, the slave trade and slavery could not be prohibited anywhere, and the fugitive slave laws would be enforced more strictly. Congress did not pass this.

West Virginia

1861 - 1863

West Virginia was formed out of western Virginia and added to the Union as a result of the Civil War. In 1861, Union troops under General McClellan drove off Confederate troops under General Lee. This freed Unionists in northwestern Virginia to form their own government as a result of the Wheeling Convention. After Lee left, western Virginia continued to be attacked by the Confederates, even after it became a state in 1863.

War Financing

1861 - 1865

The Confederates mainly used tariffs and taxes on imports and exports in the beginning of the war but later resorted to war taxes but they were very hard to collect so it set up the Confederates up for failure in the end. The Union used tactics such as the Revenue Act of 1862 to finance the war.

African American Roles

1861 - 1865

African Americans during the war were helpful in fighting for both sides, but mainly for the Union side because the Confederates feared that if they let their slaves fight they would turn on them. Some African Americans also helped promote emancipation.

Border States

April 1861

The border states refer to the 8 slave states that did not declare their secession before 1861. Four of the slave states, (Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri) never declared secession, and four of them (Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia) didn't declare their secession until after the Battle of Ft. Sumter.

Battle of Fort Sumter

April 12, 1861 - April 14, 1861

This was a siege that the Confederates laid on the Union at Fort Sumter. The Confederates fired a lucky shot on the Union's armory, which left the Union weaponless and forced to surrender.

Secession after Ft Sumter

April 17, 1861 - May 20, 1861

After the Battle of Ft Sumter, four more states seceded.

Habeas Corpus

April 27, 1861

This is a writ that requires a person under an arrest to be brought in front of the judge or court. On April 27, 1861 President Abraham Lincoln suspended writ of Habeas Corpus. Later the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act was signed into law March 3, 1863. Jefferson Davis in the Confederacy also suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus.

Bull Run/Manassas

July 21, 1861

The First Battle of Bull Run, or First Manassas as called by the Confederates, was the first major on land battle of the Civil War. Both the Union and Confederate Army were both very inexperienced, and although the Confederates were at a disadvantage, because of "Stonewall Jackson" the Confederates won and the Union retreated. After this bloody battle, both sides realized how long and bloody this war really was going to be.


October 12, 1861

Ironclads were a type of ship that was lessvulnerable than wooden ships because it was armored with steel on the outside. They were very successful in the Civil War, and it was the first clashing of the civil war. On October 12, 1861, the CSS Manassas was the first ironclad to enter combat, and it fought Union warships on the Mississippi during the Battle of the Head of Passes.

Trent Affair

November 8, 1861

On November 8, 1861, the USS San Jacinto, intercepted the British mail packet RMS Trent and removed, as a contraband of war, two Confederate diplomats. The messengers were going to Great Britain and France to see if they could get the Confederate States of America recognized.

Homestead Act of 1862


This act was signed by Abraham Lincoln and was an act to give out land grants in order to promote westward movement. Many restrictions applied, but between 1862 and 1934, the federal government granted 1.6 million homesteads and distributed 270,000,000 acres of federal land for private ownership.

Peninsular campaign

March 1862 - July 1862

The Peninsular Campaign was a major Union plan. The operation was commanded by Maj. Gen. McClellan and was against the Confederate States Army in Northern Virginia, intended to capture Richmond. McClellan was successful at first against General Joseph E. Johnston, but when General Robert E. Lee took over, it turned the Seven Days Battles into a Union defeat.


April 6, 1862 - May 30, 1862

The Battle of Shiloh and the Seize of Corinth were two important Union victories. With Grant leading in the Battle of Shiloh, the battle became the bloodiest battle in the United State's history up to that time. After that Union victory, the Union army advanced towards Corinth, Mississippi, eventually laying siege on Corinth, another Union victory.

Farragut/New Orleans

April 25, 1862 - May 1, 1862

The capture of New Orleans, the largest Confederate city, led by Farragut, was a major turning point in the war, and a huge success for the Union.

Seven Pines

May 31,1862 - June 1, 1862

The Battle of Seven Pines took place in Henrico County, Virginia, as part of the Peninsula Campaign, and although it was technically inconclusive, it was for the most part a Confederate victory over the Union.

Second Bull Run/Manassas

August 28, 1862 - August 30, 1862

This battle, fought on the same grounds as the first Manassas, was much larger scale and was the Confederacy under Lee's army attacking the Union. It was a Confederate victory.


September 17, 1862

This battle was part of the Maryland Campaign, and was the first major battle in the War to take place on Union soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000 dead, wounded and missing on both sides combined. It was strategically a Union victory.


December 11, 1862 - December 15, 1862

A Confederate victory, this battle was led by Lee on the Confederate side and Burnside on the Union side.

Emancipation Proclamation

January 1, 1863

This was a military order issued to the Army and Navy of the United States by President Lincoln. It was based on the president's constitutional authority as commander in chief of the armed forces, not a law passed by Congress. It said that all slaves in Confederate territory were free.

Standard Gauge RR

March 3, 1863

A standard gauge railroad had a standard width of the tracks. This proved to be a problem because many of the gauges were different for the railroads and had to be reconstructed. The Pacific Railway Act of March 3, 1863 said that the railroads had to be standard gauge.


April 30, 1863 - May 6, 1863

This was against Hooker's Union army and Lee's Confederate army, and was a Confederate victory part of the Chancellorsville campaign.


May 18, 1863 - July 4, 1863

Maj. Gen. Grant’s armies converged on Vicksburg, going into the city and trapping a Confederate army under Lt. Gen. Pemberton. Vicksburg surrendered after a long siege.


July 1, 1863 - July 3, 1863

This battle was the turning point in the war and was fought against Lee's army and Meade's Union army. It was a Union victory

Sherman's March to the Sea

November 15, 1864 - December 21, 1864

Savannah Campaign conducted through Georgia from by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army. The campaign began with Sherman's troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia, and ended with the capture of the port of Savannah.

Grant's pursuit of Lee

April 3, 1865 - April 9, 1865

Grant was pursuing Lee in the final events of the war, and as Lee was out of supplies and looking to feed many of his soldiers, he became desperate and eventually surrendered to Grant.

Appomattox Courthouse

April 9, 1865

This was the last battle before the Confederacy surrendered to the Union. Lee, having abandoned Richmond, Virginia, after the Siege of Petersburg, retreated west, hoping to join his army with the Confederate forces in North Carolina. Union forces pursued and cut off the Confederate retreat. Lee's final stand was at Appomattox Court House, where he launched an attack when he realized he was outnumbered he had no choice but to surrender. The signing of the surrender documents occurred in the parlor of the house.

Thirteenth Amendment

December 6, 1865

This amendment outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude except for punishment. This solidified the outlawing ofslavery initiated be the Emancipation Proclomation.

Ex parte Milligan


Ex parte Milligan was a United States Supreme Court case that ruled that the application of military tribunals to citizens when civilian courts are still operating is unconstitutional.


Confederate States of America Creation

1861 - 1865

The Confederate States of America
Creation, or Confederacy, was made up of 13 states. These included South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri and Kentucky.

Financing the Confederacy

1861 - 1865

In order to finance the Confederacy, the Confederates resorted to taxing, borrowing, and printing money. This resulted in hyper inflation. England and France also did not give aid to the Confederates. The Secretary of the Treasury of the Confederate States was Christopher Memminger.

Confederate Foreign Relations with G.B and France

1861 - 1865

Britain and France were both neutral during the Civil War. In the beginning of the war, Britain bought cotton from the Confederates, but eventually they turned to Egypt for cotton, give pretty much no support to the Confederates. Both France and Britain considered recognizing the Confederate States of America, but it didn't end up happening for either.

Jefferson Davis

1861 - 1865

Jefferson Davis was the leader of the Confederacy and the President of the Confederate States of America for the 4 years of its existence. During his presidency, Davis was in charge of the Confederate war plans but was unable to find a strategy to stop the more powerful Union.He also paid little attention to the collapsing Confederate economy, printing more and more paper money to cover the war's expenses.

Montgomery/Richmond Confederate Capitals

1861 - 1865

The Confederate capital started out in Montgomery, Alabama, before Virginia was a part of the Confederacy, but after it became a part, it offered to have the capital there, and the Confederate Congress accepted the offer.

Stonewall Jackson

1861 - 1863

Jackson was one of the most well know Confederate generals after Lee. His military career includes the Valley Campaign of 1862 and his being a commander in the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee. Confederates accidentally shot him at the Battle of Chancellorsville. His death was a huge setback for the Confederacy, both militarily and socially.

Joseph Johnston

1861 - 1865

Johnston was a Confederate general that was often accused of not being aggressive enough. He was the main general in the first Battle of Bull Run, but failed in being aggressive enough in the Vicksburg Campaign.

Robert E. Lee

April 1861 - 1865

despite being asked by Abraham Lincoln to lead the Union army, when Virginia decided to secede, Lee followed his home state. Lee served as a military commander, tactician, and battlefield commander, and although he was strategic, many of Grant's campaigns beat him out. Lee ultimately surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

Lower South Secession

November 6, 1861

The lower south states seceded. These included Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina.

Conscription Act

March 28, 1862

This was a draft law passed by the Confederates in order to get more people fighting in the war. Many of the people fighting actually had a reason to fight, and also some African Americans fought in the war as well. Still, the Conscriptions Act did not work effectively.