Lincoln forces aging General Winfield Scott to retire, and replaces him with George B. McClellan as general-in-chief.
Annoyed at McClellan's inaction, Lincoln removes him as general-in-chief, replacing him with General W. Halleck, but makes him head of the Army of the Potomac.
Lee takes command of the Confederate Armies of Northern Virginia
Lincoln replaces McClellan with Ambrose Burnside with disastrous results.
The hapless General Burnside is replaced as head of the Army of the Potomac by General Joseph Hooker.
General George Meade is put in charge of the Army of the Potomac after General Hooker is removed by Lincoln for not being aggressive enough
Grant is given command of Union forces in the West.
Grant is named commander of the Union armies, replacing Halleck.
Despite his success at preserving his forces against Sherman's assault, Johnston is replaced by General John B. Hood, who attempts to take the offensive against Sherman.
The war officially begins when South Carolina militia forces led under Beauregard bombard Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina
Confederates under Generals Johnston and Beauregard rout Union troops. Gen. Jackson earns his nickname, "Stonewall Jackson".
The Union ironclad ship Monitor confronts the Confederate Virginia (Merrimack) off Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Confederate forces under Gen. Johnston attack Grant's army. Union forces are nearly defeated, but reinforcements arrive and drive off the Confederate army. Losses are staggering: 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers are killed or wounded in the two days of fighting; the combined losses are more than the total American casualties in the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War combined.
Confederate Generals Lee, Jackson, and James Longstreet defeat Union forces under General John Pope, forcing Union troops to evacuate all the way back to Washington. In less than a month, Lee has pushed two Union armies twice the size of his own from the gates of Richmond. Pope is sacked and McClellan is reinstated.
With Pope's retreat, Lee takes the offensive, but in one of those small moments that alter history, a copy of his roders fall into Union hands, allowing McClellan to anticipate Lee's strategy. In this single bloodiest day of the war, McClellan's Union forces meet Lee's advancing army. The dead and wounded exceed 10,000 for both sides. Lee pulls back, his invasion blunted, but McClellan fails to pursue the retreating Confederates. With Lee's offensive stalled, the likelihood of European recognition of the Confederacy is sharply reduced.
Despite an overwhelming numerical advantage, General Burnside's Union troops are routed by Lee with severe casualties, losing 12,000 to the Confederates' 5,000
In another devastating battle, losses for both sides exceed 10,000 men. Lee's army defeats Hooker's Army of the Potomac. During the fighting, Stonewall Jackson leads a daring rear-end attack, forcing the Union withdrawal. But as he returns to Confederate lines, he is mistakenly shot by a Confederate soldier and dies of pneumonia on May 10, costing the Confederates one of their most effective field generals.
General Grant, in concert with Sherman, performs a long siege of the Confederate citadel at Vicksburg, Mississippi, the key to control of the Mississippi River.
Confederate troops in search of shoes meet up with a detachment of Union cavalry. Reinforcements are poured in. Three days of ferocious fighting mark the final turning point of the war. Confederate losses reach 28,000 killed, wounded, or missing, a third of the army's effective strength, to the Union's 23,000. Lee retreats to Virginia.
Grant begins an assault on Virginia with an army of 100,000 aimed at Lee's Virginia army.
During two days of inconclusive but bloody fighting, many of the wounded on both sides die when caught by brushfires ignited by gunfire in the dense woods of the battleground.
Ignoring horrible losses, Grant continues to assault Lee's impregnable defenses. At this point he has lost 60,000 men, totaling the entirety of Lee's army.
Grant begins the long siege of Petersburg, Virginia, recalling the tactics he used earlier against Vicksburg.
Sherman takes Atlanta after Hood's withdrawal. Much of the city is set on fire.
General Sherman begins his march across the South by occupying Sheridan, Mississippi. Later, he marches from Atlanta to the sea at Savannah.
Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. Per Lincoln's request, the terms of the surrenders are generous, and Confederate officers and men are free to go home with their horses; officers may retain their sidearms, although all other equipment must be surrendered,
Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers for three months' service --> no black volunteers allowed!
Angry pro-Confederacy crowds stone Union troops in Baltimore. Four soldiers killed. Lincoln orders a naval blockade meant to block the South from European commerce. Gen. Scott advises Lincoln to ask Robert E. Lee to serve as the commander of the Union forces, but he opts to fight for his home state of Virginia instead.
Lincoln authorizes the suspension of the constitutional right of habeas corpus.
To pay for the war, Congress passes the first income tax law, and enlistment periods are increased from three months to two years.
To reverse his military losses at Wilson's Creek, Missouri, General Fremont declares martial law and announces that the slaves of secessionists are free. Lincoln requests that this order be withdrawn, but Fremont refuses, and Lincoln removes him from command.
The Union ironclad ship Monitor is launched.
Lincoln calls for a Union offensive; McClellan ignores the order.
Grant launches his offensive in the West. He captures Fort Donelson and Fort Henry.
The Union Army of the Potomac begins the Peninsular Campaign aimed at Richmond. This ends at the Seven Days' Battles when Lee attacks McClellan and eventually drives him away from Richmond.
Following success at Antietam, Lincoln feels that he can issue the Emancipation Proclamation. This only frees the slaves of the Confederacy, not those in the border states or territories retaken by Union forces. Because of it, France and England end a tense diplomatic dance, finally resolving not to recognize the Confederacy, and in the North, the proclamation has the effect of making the war considerably less popular.
Lincoln signs the first Conscription Act. Enrollment is demanded of males between the ages of twenty and forty-five; substitutes can be hired or payments of $300 can be used for an exemption.
Pro-Union West Virginia joins the Union as the thirty-fifth state, with a constitution calling for gradual emancipation.
In NEw York City, resentment against the Conscription Act turns into deadly rioting in which blacks are lynched. The crowd's anger has two sources: the idea of fighting to free the slaves, and the unfairness of allowing the wealthy to avoid conscription by paying a substitute: "It's a rich man's war but a poor man's fight."
Dedicating a military cemetery on the notorious Pennsylvania battlefield, Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address, one of the immortal speeches in history.
Lincoln offers this proclamation to pardon those Confederates who will take an oath of loyalty.
Lincoln is inaugurated for a second term.
In his last public address, Lincoln urges a spirit of generous conciliation during the reconstruction.
While watching a comedy at Ford's Theater, Lincoln is shot and mortally wounded by the actor John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer.
The eighth state to do so. Washington D.C. now lies only 100 miles from Richmond.
Queen Victoria announces Britain's neutrality. However, they grant the Confederacy "belligerent status", meaning British merchants can trade with Confederate States.
Edwin Stanton replaces Simon Cameron as war secretary. Cameron's War Department had been riddled by corruption and mismanagement.
Jefferson Davis signs the Confederate Conscription Act, the first military draft.