Civil War Timeline


Civil War

April 1861 - April 1865


Clement Vallandigham

May 25, 1858 - March 1863

Vallandigham was the leader of the Copperheads, and served in the House for one term during the war. He stood for advocating the peace between the Confederates and the Union. Vallandiham is important due to his high position in government while being a Copperhead, influencing and converting many.

Harpers Ferry Raid

October 16, 1859 - October 18, 1859

John Brown lead 18 in a suicidal attack on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry. This event convinced white southerners that they couldn't live safely in the Union, thereby suggesting to these southerners that the north was committed to a slave insurrection, inciting fear and adding to the idea of secession in the South.


1861 - 1865

These were members of Union that wanted an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates. The Copperheads posed a new side in the war; the one that rioted against the war in itself, creating tension within the Union itself.

Confiscation Acts


The Confiscation Act of 1861 said the Union forces could confiscate any Confederate property, allowing for the freeing of slaves. This act, signed by Lincoln, caused more conflict in the border states, but Lincoln still signed them even know he knew the potential losses.

US Sanitary Commission


The United States Sanitary Commission was a private relief agency to help wounded soldiers of the U.S. Army. It was found throughout the North. This is important because it shows how people throughout the North helped with the war.

Winfield Scott


Scott, a former general, suggested Robert E. Lee as the new general. Scott also created the Anaconda Plan, which was a plan to blockade the south which was effective.


1861 - 1865

Ironclads were warships used to strengthen both the Confederate and the Union navy. And the Union ironclads played an important role in the Mississippi and tributaries by providing tremendous fire upon Confederate forts.

Naval Blockade/ Anaconda Plan

April 1861

Proposed by 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. The Union army planned to try this on many other places, too, showing its importance.

Union Pacific/Central Pacific Railroad

1862 - 1869

These railroads were a part of the union and were able to pass after the south seceded since the south didn't want it in the north. The new railroad crossed the entire country uniting the two sides of the states with an easy method of travel, therefore transforming the country from sections into one country connected by the railroad.



McClellan replaced Scott in November 1862 as a general for the Union Army, and this role is why McClellan is noteworthy.

Morrill Land Grant Act 1862

July 1 1862 - July 7 1862

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. This act gave farmers and people of the working class access to higher education, strengthening America as a whole. This also established more universities still existent today.

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. Because of the Civil War's financial issues, Congress passed the act to help resolve the financial crisis. This also created the base for the national banking system of the U.S.

African-American roles


186,000 emancipated blacks served as soldiers in the war for the Union forces, along with freed blacks from the North. This is a very significant number, and is important because the majority of them helped the North win by giving them plenty of soldiers.

National Women’s Loyal League


This group of women worked to abolish slavery as well as awarding suffrage to women. This was a crucial moment in history in redefining female roles.

Clara Barton


Barton distributed and collected medical supplies. She later became an important figure in the nursing profession and a founder of the American Red Cross. Barton is important because she helped to redefine female roles.


January 1863

Burnside is important because he replaced McClellan as general of the Union Army.

National Draft Law 1863

March 1863 - April 1863

In March 1863, 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. In the Confederacy, bribes and cheating took place in order to avoid the draft, thereby creating more conflict between state and local governments. In the North, this act caused the New York City draft riots.

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.


June 1863

Hooker was a major general for the Union Army. 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, a vital battle.

New York City Riots

July 13, 1863 - July 16, 1863

The federal government entered all eligible men into a lottery, and because of this there were many riots in New York City, and the riots were some of the largest civil insurrections in American history. These riots are important because they were the largest civil insurrection in American history and because they were the first signs of opposition to the Civil War.

Union Party


The Union Party was the name used by the Republican Party for the election of 1864. The party elected Lincoln and Johnson. This party is significant because it's what replaced the Republican party during the Civil War, as well as the fact that it represented half of America's population.



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

Ulysses S. Grant


Grant was an aggressive general that lead many battles, winning many major battles. After winning 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.


Border States

December 1860 - May 1861

These states were divided between seceding and not seceding, and therefore there were many conflicts and arguments within these states.

Lower-South Secession

December 20, 1860 - February 1, 1861

The lower-south were the first to secede from the union, starting with South Carolina in 1860. The secession was the result of the division between the North and the South. These states became the Northern opposition in the Civil War.

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 and is important because this was one of the reasons the Confederacy lost.

Jefferson Davis

1861 - 1865

Jefferson Davis was President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history. He is important because he was the main image of the Confederacy.

Confederate Foreign Relations with Great Britain and France

1861 - 1865

In the beginning of the war, Britain bought cotton from the Confederates, but eventually they turned to Egypt for cotton. Both France and Britain considered recognizing the Confederate States of America, but it didn’t end up happening for either. This may have added to the reasons that the Confederacy lost the war.

Montgomery/Richmond Confederate Capitals

1861 - 1866

The capital of the confederacy was originally in Montgomery, but was later moved to Richmond to distance itself from Union grip. This is significant because Richmond became the Confederacy's place; a place far from the North. It also improved confederate economy problems since it was in the middle of booming industry.

Robert E. Lee

1861 - 1865

Lee served as a military commander, tactician, and battlefield commander for the Confederate army. Lee ultimately surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, ending the war.

Joeseph Johnston

1861 - 1865

Johnston was a Confederate. He was the main general in the first Battle of Bull Run, but failed in being aggressive enough in the Vicksburg Campaign.

Stonewall Jackson

1861 - 1863

Jackson was a well know Confederate general. His death was a huge setback for the Confederacy, both militarily and socially.

Confederate States of America Creation

February 1861 - March 1861

The Confederate States of America was made up of 13 states: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri and Kentucky. This creation, along with its constitution, signified that the South was serious about seceding, sending the Union into a panic, leading to the declaration of war. Also, this was the opposition to the North that fought against them in the war.

Secession After Fort Sumter

April 17, 1861 - May 20, 1861

After the battle at Fort Sumter, 4 more states seceded, emphasizing the southern seriousness of seceding, as well as giving the Confederacy more population and property.

Trent Affair

November 8, 1861

The USS San Jacinto, intercepted the British mail packet RMS Trent and removed two Confederate diplomats. The messengers were going to Great Britain and France to see if they could get the Confederate States of America recognized. This was a setback in gaining foreign aid for the Confederacy.


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. It was a dispute whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state.

Dred Scott v. Sanford

December 1856 - March 6, 1857

When the master of Scott, a former slave, dies, Scott is legally free, but the Missouri supreme court overrules this and says that he is still a slave. Taney, the chief justice, believes that slaves were property and Congress couldn't deprive citizens of their property, and says that the Compromise of 1850 is unconstitutional. The Dred Scott decision effectively ended the Missouri Compromise, hardening the political rivalry between North and South and paving the way for the Civil War.

Lincoln-Douglas Debates

August 1858 - October 1858

These debates formed the issues relating to slavery, as well as making Lincoln a popular political figure, leading to his election.

Buchanan's Lame-Duck term

November 1860 - March 1861

In the election 1860 Lincoln was elected. The South decided to secede, and Buchanan did nothing to stop it, believing it was unconstitutional, but also believed this of the entire act of seceding. The South seceded from the US during Buchanan's term, and Buchanan put in no effort to stop the South, badly marring his presidency.

Crittenden Compromise

December 18, 1860 - December 31, 1860

Proposed by Crittenden, this compromise proposed that slavery could be legal in all territories and that the fugitive slave laws would be enforced more strictly. Congress did not pass this. This compromise allowed for US citizens to realize that the issue of slavery was not something that could be easily resolved, realizing the impending war. Though it was never passed, it was used to persuade the South not to secede.

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.

Emancipation ideologies


Emancipation (freeing all black slaves) was a huge step, and one that would not be able to be achieved easily. The fact that this was around at the time foreshadows and corresponds with the conflict that is the Civil War.

Financing the War

1861 - 1865

The Confederates passed tariffs on imports and exports, later resorting to war taxes. The Union used tactics such as the Revenue Act of 1862 to finance the war. This is important because this was a main factor in being able to fight the war.

Ex parte Merryman


Ex parte Merryman was a case which arose out of the Civil War. It 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 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.

Abraham Lincoln First Inaugural Address

March 4, 1861

Addressed primarily to the people of the South, Lincoln’s first inaugural address stated that he doesn't believe it's in his constitutional rights to take any property from the South, he just doesn't want any westward expansion. He also says he will enforce the Fugitive Slave Law, but he is able to make new laws. This is significant because this address scared the south into seceding.

Fort Sumter

April 12, 1861 - April 14, 1861

This was a siege that the Confederates laid on the Union at Fort Sumter. The Union army became weaponless and was forced to surrender. This was the first battle of the Civil War, thus eventually starting it.

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.
This law protects human rights and is still around today.

Bull Run/Manassas

July 21, 1861

The Battle of Bull Run was the first major on land battle of the Civil War. 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.

Conscription Act

1862 - 1863

In the Union, this law set up a system for enrolling and drafting men between twenty and forty-five years old. In the Confederacy, there was no real need for this law, as they had reason to fight, as well as many blacks on their side. This is important because without this act, there would be almost no Northerners willingly enrolling.

Farragut/New Orleans


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.

Peninsular campaign

March 1862 - July 1862

The Peninsular Campaign was a major Union plan. The operation was commanded by McClellan and was intended to capture Richmond. Lee turned this battle into a Union defeat.

Homestead Act of 1862

April 1862 - May 1862

An act signed by Abraham Lincoln, its purpose was 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. This act encouraged a significant number of people to move West and settle, thus opening the West up for further development and settlement.


April 6, 1862

The Battle of Shiloh was fought in southwestern Tennessee. The Union army, under Grant, fought the Confederate army under Johnston and Beauregard. The end result was a Union victory.

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 was a Confederate victory.

Second Bull Run/Manassas

August 28, 1862 - August 30, 1862

This battle was large scale and was the Confederacy under Lee’s army attacking the Union. It was a Confederate victory.


September 17, 1862

This battle 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. It was a Union victory.


December 11, 1862 - December 15, 1862

Led by Lee on the Confederate side and Burnside on the Union side, this battle resulted in a Confederate victory.

Emancipation Proclamation

January 1, 1863

This was an order issued to the Army and Navy by Lincoln, saying that all slaves in Confederate territory were free. This is important because it made the abolition of slavery an explicit war goal as well as the goal of reuniting the Union


April 30, 1863 - May 6, 1863

This battle was against Hooker’s Union army and by Lee’s Confederate army, and was a Confederate victory. It was part of the Chancellorsville campaign.


May 18, 1863 - July 4, 1863

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 between Lee’s army and Meade’s Union army. It was a Union victory.

Sherman/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.

Abraham Lincoln Second Inaugural Address

March 4, 1865

Lincoln’s second inaugural address was given when the war was coming to an end. The Union had nearly beaten the Confederates and the conflict was almost resolved. His address was centered around Divine providence. This is important because the public could have insight on to what Lincoln’s thoughts were on the war.

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. 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. This is where the surrender was signed.

Thirteenth Amendment

December 6, 1865

The thirteenth amendment outlaws slavery or involuntary servitude in the United States. This signified the end of slavery, which is why the North and South had conflict in the first place.

Ex parte Milligan


This was a United States Supreme Court case that said that the application of military tribunals to citizens when civilian courts are still operating is unconstitutional. This case was a landmark for constitutional protection of civil rights

Standard Gauge Railroad


The government began this transcontinental railroad at two different ends of the country but didn't use the standard gauge, causing problems for them later on. This is important because it added to the American industry and thereby improved the country.