America Civil War


Civil War Timeline makes an interesting read for all the history lovers. How it all began, who played what role, what made it last for four long years and what went on during all this time, etc. are some of the questions that naturally come to anybody’s mind. Given below is the chronology of events in the American Civil War:


October 16-18, 1859: John Brown, an abolitionist, attacks the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in order to gather arms for slave insurrection.

December 2, 1859: John Brown is hanged for murder and treason.


November 6, 1860: Abraham Lincoln wins presidential elections.

December 20, 1860: South Carolina secedes from the Union.


January 9, 1861: Union hired steamship, Star of the West, was fired upon by the seceded South Carolina Artillery. The vessel was carrying Union troops and supplies to Fort Sumter.

January 9 – February 1, 1861: Six other states follow South Carolina and secede from the Union. These included Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

February 9, 1861: Seceded states form the Confederate States of America.

March 4, 1861: Abraham Lincoln inaugurated as the president of the US.

April 12, 1861: The Confederate forces under Gen. Pierre Beauregard attack Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.

April 15, 1861: President Lincoln summons a special session of Congress.

April 17 – May 20, 1861: 4 more states – Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia – secede from the Union.

April 19, 1861: President Lincoln issues a Proclamation of Blockade against Southern ports.

April 20, 1861: Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army.

May 24, 1861: Union troops under Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth cross the Potomac River from Washington and capture Alexandria, Virginia, and vicinity. Elmer is killed by an innkeeper and becomes the first officer to fall for the Union cause.

May 29, 1861: Richmond becomes the capital of the Confederacy.

July 4, 1861: The Congress authorizes a call for 500,000 men.

July 21, 1861: The Union Army under the command of Gen. Irvin McDowell is defeated at Bull Run, 25 miles southwest of Washington. Union troops fall back to Washington.

July 27, 1861: Gen. McDowell is replaced by George B. McClellan to command the Potomac unit.

September 11, 1861: Gen. Frémont is relieved for his unauthorized military proclamation of emancipation in Missouri. Gen. David Hunter takes over the charge.

November 1, 1861: McClellan is appointed as general-in-chief of the Union forces after the resignation of the aged Winfield Scott.

November 8, 1861: Two of the Confederate officials who were sailing towards England are seized by the U.S. Navy. England demands their release, Lincoln eventually gives in.


January 31, 1862: President issues War Order calling for naval and land forces to begin advance by February 22, George Washington’s birthday.

February 6, 1862: Union forces under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant gains victory in Tennessee. They capture Fort Henry, and soon thereafter (10 days later) Fort Donelson.

February 20, 1862: Willie Lincoln, the eleven-year-old son of Lincoln, dies from typhoid fever.

March 8-9, 1862: The Confederate Ironclad ‘Merrimac’ sinks two wooden Union ships and battles the Union Ironclad ‘Monitor’ to a draw.

Also in March: The Peninsular Campaign begins. McClellan’s Union Army of the Potomac advances from Washington and begins towards Richmond.

McClellan, the general-in-chief,  is temporarily relieved and Lincoln himself takes command of the Army.

April 6-7, 1862: Confederate forces attack on Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s unprepared troops at Shiloh on the Tennessee River, leaving 13,000 Union personnel killed and wounded.

April 24, 1862: Union ships under David Farragut move up the Mississippi River and take New Orleans.

May 31, 1862: The Battle of Seven Pines takes place. Confederate forces under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, attack McClellan’s troops in front of Richmond and nearly defeats them. But Johnston is badly wounded.

June 1, 1862: Gen. Robert E. Lee assumes command, replacing the wounded Johnston and renames his force – The Army of Northern Virginia.

June 25-July 1: Lee attacks McClellan near Richmond, resulting in very heavy losses for both armies. McClellan is forced to withdraw back towards Washington.

July 11, 1862: After 4 months as his own general-in-chief, President Lincoln hands over the task to Gen. Henry W. (Old Brains) Halleck.

August 29-30, 1862: Confederate forces defeat Gen. John Pope in the second battle of Bull Run. Union Army retreats to Washington. The president then relieves Gen. Pope.

September 4-9, 1862: Lee invades the North with 50,000 Confederates and heads for Harpers Ferry. The Union General McClellan pursues Lees with his 90,000 strong unit.

September 17, 1862: McClellan stops Gen. Robert E. Lee at Antietam in Maryland, resulting in a huge casualty of 26,000 and forcing Lee to withdraw to Virginia.

September 22, 1862: President Lincoln issues Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

November 7, 1862: The president replaces McClellan with Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside as the new Commander of the Army of the Potomac.

December 13, 1862: Gen. Burnside suffers a defeat at Fredericksburg in Virginia with a loss of 12,653 men at the hands of Gen. Lee. Confederate losses are 5,309.


January 1, 1863: Final proclamation of emancipation is issued to free all slaves in the Confederate territories. President calls for enlisting of black soldiers in the Army.

January 25, 1863: Gen. Burnside is replaced by Gen. Joseph (Fighting Joe) Hooker as Commander of the Army of the Potomac.

January 29, 1863: Gen. Grant is placed in command of the Army of the West, with orders to capture Vicksburg.

March 3, 1863: The U.S. Congress enacts The Enrollment Act requiring conscription from male citizens aged 20 to 45, with certain exemptions.

May 1-4, 1863: The Union Army under Gen. Hooker is decisively defeated by Lee’s much smaller forces in the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia.

June 3, 1863: Gen. Lee with 75,000 Confederates launches his second invasion of the North, heading into Pennsylvania in a campaign that will soon lead to Gettysburg.

July 1-3, 1863: Confederates are defeated in the Battle of Gettysburg.

July 4, 1863: Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, surrenders to the Union. This divides the Confederate territory into two and cuts it off from its western allies.

July 13-16, 1863: Anti-draft riots in New York City takes place involving murder of blacks by poor immigrant whites. Union soldiers returning from Gettysburg restore order.

July 18, 1863: Union ‘Negro troops’ under Col. Robert G. Shaw assault Confederate forces at Fort Wagner. Col. is killed along with half of his regiment.

August 10, 1863: President Lincoln meets with Frederick Douglass who pushes for full equality for Union ‘Negro troops.’

August 21, 1863: William C. Quantrill along with his pro-slavery confederate followers raid Lawrence, Kansas and butcher 182 people.

September 19-20, 1863: Confederate victory by Gen. Braxton Bragg at Chickamauga leaves Union Army of the Cumberland trapped in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

November 23-25, 1863: Union army under Gen. Grant successfully gets back Chattanooga.


March 9, 1864: Gen. Grant is appointed to command all of the Union armies.

May 4, 1864: Gen. Grant begins advancing towards Richmond to engage Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Ensuing battles include battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor.

In the west, Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman begins an advance towards Atlanta to engage Joseph E. Johnston’s army of Tennessee.

June 3, 1864: A mistake by Gen. Grant costs Union 7,000 casualties in 20 minutes during an offensive at Cold Harbor.

June 15, 1864: 9 months siege of Petersburg begins with Grant’s Union forces surrounding Confederate forces of Lee.

July 20, 1864: At Atlanta, Union forces under Sherman battle the Confederate forces under the command of Gen. John B. Hood, who replaced Johnston.

August 29, 1864: Democrats nominate George B. McClellan for president to run against Republican incumbent Abraham Lincoln.

September 2, 1864: Sherman successfully captures Atlanta.

October 19, 1864: Union gains a decisive victory in the Shenandoah Valley.

November 8, 1864: Abraham Lincoln is re-elected as the president of the United States.

November 15, 1864: Sherman with his Union Army begins a March to the Sea.

December 15-16, 1864: Confederate army under Hood is defeated at Nashville by Union troops under Gen. George H. Thomas.

December 21, 1864: Union army under Sherman reaches Savannah in Georgia.


January 31, 1865: The U.S. Congress approves constitutional amendment to abolish slavery.

February 3, 1865: President Lincoln meets Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens for peace talks but the meeting ends in failure.

March 4, 1865: Inauguration ceremonies for President Lincoln in Washington.

March 25, 1865: Robert Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia attacks on Grant’s forces at Petersburg.

April 2, 1865: Grant’s army breaks through Lee’s lines at Petersburg. The Confederate Capital, Richmond, is evacuated and occupied by the Union troops.

April 4, 1865: President Lincoln tours Richmond and enters the Confederate White House.

April 9, 1865: General Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

April 10, 1865: Celebrations break out in Washington.

April 14, 1865: Union flag is raised over Fort Sumter. Same night, president Lincoln and his wife, Mary are at Ford’s Theater to see the play “Our American Cousin”.

During the third act of the play (at around 10:13 pm), John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer (who was not part of the cast of the play) shoots the president in the head.

In a coordinated assassination attempt, Lewis Powell, a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth, stabs William H. Seward, Secretary of State inside his Washington home but fortunate enough, Seward survives the attack.

April 15, 1865: President Abraham Lincoln dies at 7:22 in the morning. Vice President Andrew Johnson assumes the presidency.

April 18, 1865: Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrenders to Sherman near Durham in North Carolina.

April 26, 1865: John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Lincoln, is shot and killed in a tobacco barn in Virginia.

May 4, 1865: Last rites performed for President Lincoln who is put to rest in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Illinois.

Also in May: Remaining Confederate forces surrender. Civil war ends and the nation is reunited.

Over 620,000 Americans died in the war and twice that number due to diseases. 50,000 survivors return home as amputees.

June 30, 1865: All 8 conspirators are convicted for assassinating Lincoln; 4 of them are sentenced to death.

December 6, 1865: Constitutional amendment for abolition of slavery is ratified. Slavery is finally abolished.

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