Civil War Timeline

Key Figures

Abraham Lincoln


-Though Lincoln was elected at arguably the most prominent, controversial time in our nation, he entered his office with on goal: to preserve the Union. “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”
- His primary focus and purpose was to insure the preservation of the Union.
- Born in Virginia
- He grew up on a farm, where he acquired a lot of knowledge, served in the military, and served time in legislature.
- Republican
- Ran against John C. Breckinridge, John Bell, and Stephen A. Douglas during the 1860 election.
- He had 180 electoral votes out of 303 total possible. The majority of his votes were from the northern states, California, and Oregon.
-In Lincoln’s legendary Gettysburg Address, he stressed the vitality of liberty and equality in a nation. He also spoke of the consequences of war, but reflected on the passionate American lives that were lost in this unforgettable battle amongst countrymen. This strong, determined president reminded citizens that our government was originally founded “of the people, by the people, and for the people”. Lincoln specifically references our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, and points out that the United States is fighting this Civil War to insure that we stand firm in what we established upon, despite the cost. The Declaration states that “all men are created equal”. The Gettysburg Address foreshadowed the Emancipation Proclamation.
- The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863. It freed all slaves forever.
- On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth. This tragedy occurred immediately following the South’s surrender at Appomattox Court House.

Jefferson Davis


-The first and only President of the Confederate States of America
-Supported slavery, He owned slaves himself.
-Despite his military success, political skill, and strong belief in the Confederate's cause, Davis did not possess the personality to peacefully communicate and govern his people.
-When Confederates continued to suffer defeat, he was forced to flee in order to escape the Union army. However, Davis was captured by Union forces in 1865.
-He was imprisoned at Fort Monroe, Virginia.

Ulysses S. Grant


-Grant re-enters the army after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12th.
-February 1862, Grant emerges victorious at Fort Henry in Tennessee.
-April 1862, Grant leads his troops at Shiloh. He wins another battle for the Union, though the North suffered more casualties than the South.
-December 8, 1863, President Lincoln writes to thank Grant "for the skill, courage, and perseverance with which you and they, over so great difficulties, have effected that important object."
-March 9, 1864, Grant receives his commission as Lieutenant General of all Union armies from President Lincoln.
-May 1864, Grant begins the Grand Campaign that initiates all Union armies to work together to stop Confederate armies from moving to support eachother during the different battles.
-April 3, 1865, Grant captures Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia.
-April 9, 1865, Grant accepts the final surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox Courthouse.

William T. Sherman


-Sherman first fought during the Civil War in the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run). Unfortunately, the Union forces fell to the Confederates. However, Lincoln was very pleased with Sherman's efforts, and chose to promote him to brigadier general.
- During 1864, Sherman began his ruthless, destructive rampage through the state of Georgia. The length of his march was an astonishing forty to sixty miles. On this March to the Sea, Sherman successfully captured Atlanta and Savannah. Sherman's men destroyed military targets, industrial areas, and many civilians' homes.

Robert E. Lee


-He was a very intelligent military hero. Lee’s reputation was respected.
-Lee was offered the command of Federal forces by Lincoln. However, he declined when his home state, Virginia, seceded from the Union. Lee said he could never go against his own people. He accepted a position of general in the Confederate Army instead.
-Robert E. Lee was a mastermind at war; his tactics were always clever and unbelievable. He trained arguably the best and most successful soldiers in the Confederacy. He was known for overcoming seemingly impossible odds.
-He relentlessly fought in the battle of Gettysburg, perhaps the most renown, even though the Union did defeat his forces.
-Lee was forced to surrender his exhausted army to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865; this officially ended the Civil War.

Stonewall Jackson


-Jackson was a successful war leader from Virginia.
-He was appointed Brigadier general by President Jackson and led Confederate forces into the Battle of Manassas. There, he and his troops fiercely fought and withstood the Union forces. It was here that he earned his nickname, “Stonewall”.
-Jackson continued to contribute to the Confederacy’s advance by standing strong at the battles of Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Antietam.
-He was victorious at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. But sadly, the night of the victory, Jackson was shot unexpectedly and died a only a few days later.


Fort Sumter

April 12, 1861 - April 14, 1861

-Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard began firing on the Union-possessed Fort Sumter early in the morning.
- The Civil War had officially begun; the firing at lasted for approximately 34 hours.
-The Union general, Anderson, did not surrender until April 13th.
-Astonishingly NO soldiers of either the North or South were killed during all the gunfire.
-The Union soldiers evacuated the fort on April 14th.
-There were 500 Confederate soldiers to 80 Union soldiers at this event.
-This victory for the South would be one of only a few that they were able to attack Union forces that were off-guard and have the significant amount of troops to outnumber them.

Battle of Antietam

September 16, 1862

-Commander for the Union, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan and his troops met Robert E. Lee’s Army at Sharpsburg, Maryland.
-This unforgettable day would be the single bloodiest battle in American history.
-There were 87,000 Union soldiers to the 45,000 Confederate soldiers, but surprisingly, there were more Union deaths.
-Lee was eventually forced to withdraw his men and order them to retreat. Though there was no official victory claimed, Lincoln and the Union saw the battle as their win.
-It was after this battle that President Lincoln realized that the South was not advancing in this war and did not stand a chance against the fluent forces and advantages of the North. This prompted him to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

Battle of Vicksburg/ Anaconda Plan

May 18, 1863 - July 4, 1863
  • Union leader, Ulysses S. Grant, and his men were determined to gain control of the Mississippi River; this was part of their “Anaconda Plan”. -The success of this mission to obtain control of the Mississippi River gave the Union army control of the Confederacy’s supplies and materials that were being transported along this river. They were able to blockade the South and cut off the Confederacy’s major sources. The battle of Vicksburg was an extremely important turning point in the Civil War. -In this particular battle, there were 77,000 Union soldiers and 33,000 Confederate. John C. Pemberton led the Confederates.

Battle of Gettysburg

July 1, 1863 - July 3, 1863

-General Lee sought to move his army further north to penetrate deeper into the Union territory. He thought this could potentially weaken the Union’s forces and even gain attention from foreign countries and persuade them to send help.
-Unsurprisingly, the Union leader George Meade approached this big battle with a greater number of men than Lee. The North had 93,921, and the Confederates came only with 71,699.
-This fight undoubtedly was the most deadly battle in American history, totally unprecedented. The result was over 50,000 casualties.
-The Union did emerge victorious once again. The Confederates were not adequately prepared and could not realistically have a chance against the powerful, industrial North, despite their incredible leaders.
-Lee retreated defeated to Virginia; He later surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.

Atanta Campaign/ Sherman's March to the Sea


-Though the war was clearly coming to an end and the Confederacy had fallen, Sherman journeyed to the heart of the South to completely destroy the Confederacy’s will to fight.
-Sherman burned Atlanta, ruined railroads, set fields of crop on fire, killed livestock, and turned any remaining factories into ashes.
-Sherman and his men traveled nearly 60 miles to the Atlantic Ocean.