The American Civil War


Abraham Lincoln is elected President

November 6, 1860

Abraham Lincoln is elected President, with Hannibal Hamlin as his Vice President.

South Carolina Secedes

December 20, 1860

As a consequence of Lincoln’s election, a special convention of the South Carolina legislature votes to secede from the Union.

First Wave of Secession

January 9, 1861 - February 1, 1861

Mississippi (Jan 9), Florida (Jan 10), Alabama (Jan 11), Georgia (Jan 19), Louisiana (Jan 26) and Texas (Feb 1).

Star of the West

January 9, 1861

The "Star of the West," a civilian ship secretly carrying Union supplies to Fort Sumter, is fired on by students at the Citadel

Kansas becomes a State

January 29, 1861

Kansas is admitted as a state with a constitution prohibiting slavery.

The Confederate States of America is formed

February 9, 1861

Delegates from six seceded states meet in Montgomery, Alabama, to form a government and elect Jefferson Davis President of the Confederate States of America.

Jefferson Davis becomes President of the CSA

February 18, 1861

Lincoln's inauguration

March 4, 1861

Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the sixteenth President of the United States.

Confederate States Constitution

March 11, 1861

The Civil War

April 12, 1861 - May 10, 1865

Lincoln calls for an army

April 15, 1861

Lincoln declares a state of insurrection and calls for 75,000 volunteers to enlist for three months of service.

Second Wave of Secession

April 17, 1861 - June 8, 1861

Virginia secedes from the Union (April 17), followed within five weeks by Arkansas (May 6), North Carolina (May 20) and Tennessee (June 8), thus forming an eleven state Confederacy with a population of 9 million, including nearly 4 million slaves. The Union will soon have 21 states and a population of over 20 million.

Lincoln's Proclamation of Blockade against southern ports

April 19, 1861

Lincoln orders a blockade of all Confederate ports.

Lee resigns from US Army

April 20, 1861

Colonel Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army

The Capital moves from Montgomery, AL to Richmond, VA

May 29, 1861

Richmond becomes the capital of the Confederacy.

Congress authorizes a call for 500,000 soldiers

July 4, 1861

Lincoln, in a speech to Congress, states the war is..."a People's contest...a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men..." The Congress authorizes a call for 500,000 men.

"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is written

November, 1861

Capture of Confederate commissioners

November 8, 1861

The Union navy seizes Confederate commissioners to Great Britain and France—James A. Mason and John Slidell—from the British steamer Trent, inflaming tensions between the United States and Great Britain

"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is published.

February, 1862

Conscriptions begin

April 16, 1862

Conscription is adopted in the Confederacy.

"The Prayer of Twenty Millions" is published

August 20, 1862

Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune publishes The Prayer of Twenty Millions, a plea for Lincoln to liberate slaves in the Union.

Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

September 22, 1862

President Lincoln issues the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Emancipation Proclamation

January 1, 1863

Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, which declares that slaves in the seceded states are now free.

Conscriptions begin

March 3, 1863

Lincoln signs the federal draft act

"Stonewall" Jackson dies

May 10, 1863

Stonewall Jackson succumbs to wounds received at Chancellorsville.

West Virginia becomes a State

June 20, 1863

New York draft riots

July 13, 1863 - July 15, 1863

Violent riots erupt in New York City in protest of the draft.

Gettysburg Address

November 19, 1863

Lincoln delivers his Gettysburg Address, in which he reiterates the nation’s fundamental principle that all men are created equal.

Fugitive slave laws repealed by Lincoln

June 28, 1864

Abraham Lincoln is re-elected

November 8, 1864

Lincoln is reelected President, with Andrew Johnson as Vice President.

Thirteenth Amendement

January 31, 1865

Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolishes slavery throughout the United States.

Lincoln's second inauguration

March 4, 1865

Lincoln is inaugurated as President for a second term.

Union troops occupy Richmond

April 3, 1865

Union troops occupy Richmond

Lee surrenders

April 9, 1865

Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at Appomattox.

Lincoln is shot

April 14, 1865

John Wilkes Booth shoots President Lincoln at Ford’s Theater; Secretary of State William H. Seward is stabbed and wounded in an assassination attempt inside his Washington home.

Andrew Johnson is inaugurated

April 15, 1865

Andrew Johnson becomes the 17th President of the United States.

Lincoln dies

April 15, 1865

Johnston surrenders

April 26, 1865

Joseph E. Johnston surrenders to William T. Sherman in North Carolina

John Wilkes Booth is shot and killed

April 26, 1865

John Wilkes Booth is shot in a barn in Virginia and dies

Johnson declares the Civil War to be over

May 10, 1865

Despite the fact that there were still small pockets of resistance in the south, the president declared that the armed resistance was "virtually" ended and that nations or ships still harboring fugitives would be denied entry into U.S. ports. Also that persons found aboard such vessels will no longer be given immunity from prosecution of their crimes.

Jefferson Davis is captured

May 10, 1865

Jefferson Davis is captured and taken prisoner near Irwinville, Georgia.

Smith surrenders, ending Confederate resistance

June 2, 1865

In New Orleans, terms of surrender are offered to General E. Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, on May 26. His acceptance on June 2 formally ends Confederate resistance.

Lincoln conspirators are convicted

June 30, 1865

All eight conspirators are convicted for the assassination of President Lincoln; four are sentenced to death.

The CSS Shenandoah surrenders

November 6, 1865

Decisive Battles

A general engagement involving field armies in which a commander achieved a vital strategic objective. Such a result might include an indisputable victory on the field or be limited to the success or termination of a campaign offensive. Decisive battles had a direct, observable impact on the direction, duration, conduct, or outcome of the war.

Fort Sumter, SC

April 12, 1861 - April 14, 1861

Confederate victory: Beauregard takes Charleston Federal fort, first battle of American Civil War.

First Bull Run/First Manassas, VA

July 21, 1861

Confederate victory: McDowell loses to J.E. Johnston, Beauregard; Jackson named "Stonewall".

Wilson's Creek, MO

August 10, 1861

Confederate victory: Union forces lose, first major battle west of the Mississippi.

Fort Donelson, TN

February 11, 1862 - February 16, 1862

Union victory: Confederate army under Simon Bolivar Buckner surrenders to Grant, Union gains control of Cumberland River.

Island Number Ten/New Madrid, MO

February 28, 1862 - April 8, 1862

Union victory: Union victory by Pope over John P. McCown

Pea Ridge, AR

March 6, 1862 - March 8, 1862

Union victory: Union victory by Samuel Ryan Curtis over Earl Van Dorn ensured continued Union control of Missouri

Fort Macon, NC

March 23, 1862 - April 26, 1862

Union victory: Confederate fort surrenders after Union artillery bombardment.

Glorieta Pass, New Mexico Territory (modern NM)

March 26, 1862 - March 28, 1862

Confederate tactical victory. Union strategic victory. Dubbed the "Gettysburg of the West".

Shiloh, TN

April 6, 1862 - April 7, 1862

Union victory: Grant and reinforcements under Buell repulse Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard, but the Union lost more men.

Fort Jackson and St. Philip, LA

April 18, 1862 - April 28, 1862

Union victory: Decisive battle for possession of New Orleans.

Corinth, MS

April 29, 1862 - May 30, 1862

Union victory: Union forces capture town, Beauregard tricks Union in order to escape to Tupelo.

First Winchester, VA

May 25, 1862

Confederate victory: "Stonewall" Jackson defeats Nathaniel P. Banks.

Gaines' Mill, VA

June 27, 1862

Confederate victory: (Seven Days) Lee defeats McClellan.

Malvern Hill, VA

July 1, 1862

Union victory: (Seven Days) McClellan defeats Lee but withdraws after battle.

Second Bull Run/Second Manassas, VA

August 28, 1862 - August 30, 1862

Confederate victory: Lee defeats Pope's Army of Virginia

Antietam, MD

September 17, 1862

Inconclusive: Strategic Union victory. McClellan ends Lee's invasion of North, bloodiest single day of the war.

Perryville, KY

October 8, 1862

Union victory: Tactically indecisive battle that ended Braxton Bragg's Kentucky campaign.

Fredericksburg, VA

December 13, 1862

Confederate victory: Lee beats back repeated frontal assaults by Burnside.

Stones River/Second Murfreesboro, TN

December 31, 1862 - January 2, 1863

Union victory: Forces fight to a draw.

Chancellorsville, VA

April 30, 1863 - May 6, 1863

Confederate victory: Lee defeats Hooker's Army of Potomac, Jackson mortally wounded.

Champion Hill, MS

May 16, 1863

Union victory: Grant defeats Confederates.

Vicksburg, MS

May 18, 1863 - July 4, 1863

Union victory: the siege ends; Grant accepts surrender of second Confederate army.

Port Hudson, LA

May 21, 1863 - July 9, 1863

Union victory: last Confederate stronghold on Mississippi surrenders.

Gettysburg, PA

July 1, 1863 - July 3, 1863

Union victory: Lee loses to Meade, Pickett's Charge fails, ends second invasion of North. Confederate army arrived in Gettysburg to resupply army, unaware of Union army nearby.

Chickamauga, GA

September 19, 1863 - September 20, 1863

Confederate victory: Bragg defeats Rosencrans, George Thomas of US anointed "The Rock of Chickamauga"

Chattanooga, TN

November 23, 1863 - November 25, 1863

Union victory: Grant defeats Braxton Bragg and relieves Union forces besieged in Chattanooga.

Mansfield, LA

April 8, 1864

Confederate victory: Banks Union Red River Campaign halted by the Confederates.

Battle of the Wilderness, VA

May 5, 1864 - May 7, 1864

Inconclusive: Grant and Lee meet inconclusively.

Spotsylvania Court House, VA

May 8, 1864 - May 21, 1864

Inconclusive: Grant and Lee meet inconclusively, Grant writes to Halleck, "I propose to fight it out in this line if it takes all summer".

Cold Harbor, VA

May 31, 1864 - June 12, 1864

Confederate victory: Lee repulses Grant, Confederate general says "This is not war, this is murder".

Second Petersburg, VA

June 15, 1864 - June 18, 1864

Confederate victory: Lee repulses Grant at back door to Richmond.

Battle of the Crater, VA

July 30, 1864

Confederate victory: Lee defeats Burnside.

Mobile Bay, AL

August 2, 1864 - August 23, 1864

Union victory: David Farragut takes port, says "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead".

Jonesborough, GA

August 31, 1864 - September 1, 1864

Union victory: WIliam J. Hardee's Confederates defeated, resulting in Atlanta's fall the following day.

Opequon/Third Winchester, VA

September 19, 1864

Union victory: Sheridan defeats Early, several officers killed or wounded on both sides.

Cedar Creek, VA

October 19, 1864

Union victory: Sheridan defeats Early, drives Confederates from Shenandoah Valley.

Westport, MO

October 23, 1864

Union victory: Union forces win decisive battle to take control of Missouri.

Sherman's March to the Sea

November 16, 1864 - December 21, 1864

Sherman leaves Atlanta and begins his "march to the sea," in an attempt to demoralize the South and hasten surrender.

Savannah falls to Sherman's army without resistance. Sherman gives the city to Lincoln as a Christmas present.

Franklin, TN

November 30, 1864

Union victory: Hood attacks Schofield but suffers crushing losses; "Pickett's Charge of the West".

Nashville, TN

December 15, 1864 - December 16, 1864

Union victory: Thomas attacks and virtually destroys Hoods' Confederate Army of Tennessee.

Second Fort Fisher, NC

January 13, 1865 - January 15, 1865

Union victory: Union takes fort.

Bentonville, NC

March 19, 1865 - March 21, 1865

Union victory: Sherman defeats Confederates.

Fort Stedman, VA

March 25, 1865

Union victory: Lee attempts to break siege.

Five Forks, VA

April 1, 1865

Union victory: Sheridan routs Confederates.

Fort Blakely, AL

April 2, 1865 - April 9, 1865

Union victory: Union forces capture fort outside of Mobile.

Petersburg, VA

April 2, 1865

Union victory: Grant defeats Lee

Appomattox Court House, VA

April 9, 1865

Union victory: Lee's forces surrounded. He subsequently surrenders.


Winfield Scott

July 5, 1841 - November 1, 1861

George B. McClellan

November 1, 1861 - March 11, 1862

Henry W. Halleck

July 23, 1862 - March 9, 1864

Ulysses S. Grant

March 9, 1864 - March 4, 1869

Robert E. Lee

January 31, 1865 - April 9, 1865