The Civil War Timeline, Digital History ID 2934
December 1860 On December 20, South Carolina secedes from the Union
January 1861 Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana secede from the Union. Texas secedes at the beginning of February.
South Carolina repel the Star of the West, a supply ship trying to resupply federal forces at Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor.
February 1861 On February 8, at a convention in Montgomery, Alabama, seven seceded states adopt a Constitution creating the Confederate States of America. The convention names Jefferson Davis provisional president.
On February 9, Tennessee rejects a call for a secession convention by a vote of 68,000 to 59,500.
March 1861 On March 2, U.S. Congress adopts and sends to the states a constitutional amendment which would have prohibited any subsequent amendment to "abolish or interfere . . . with the domestic institutions" of the states
Lincoln inaugurated on March 4.
On March 18, the Arkansas secession convention votes 39 to 35 against secession, but then votes unanimously to put the secession question before the people of the state in an August referendum.
April 1861 On April 4, the Virginia secession convention votes 89-45 against an ordinance of secession.
At 4:30 a.m., April 12, Confederate batteries open fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor
On April 15, President Abraham Lincoln issues proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion.
On April 17, Virginia convention votes to secedes from the Union
May 1861 Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina secede from the Union. Four slaveholding states--Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri--do not leave the Union.
Union General Benjamin F. Butler declares fugitive slaves at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, to be "contraband of war."
July 1861 First Battle of Bull Run: On July 21, Union forces under General Irvin McDowell are repelled by Confederate troops stationed at Manassas Junction, Virginia, dashing Union hopes for a quick end to the war.
July 1861 President Lincoln replaced General Irvin McDowell with General George B. McClellan.
President Lincoln imposes a naval blockade on the Confederacy.
August 1861 Congress enacts the First Confiscation Act, which nullifies owners' claims to fugitive slaves who had been employed in the Confederate war effort.
General John C. Frémont declares that slaves of disloyal Missouri slave owners to be free. In September, President Lincoln orders Frémont to free only those slaves owned by Missourians actively working for the South. When Fremont refused, he was dismissed.
November 1861 Union forces occupy Port Royal, South Carolina, and subsequently gain control of South Carolina’s other sea islands.
March 1862 Congress forbids members of the army and navy from returning fugitive slaves to their owners
The first combat battle between ironclad ships, pitting the USS Monitor against the Confederate Merrimac (Virginia) ends inconclusively.
April 1862 General David Hunter, Union commander in the South Carolina Sea Islands, requests permission to enlist African Americans for military service. When he received no response, he began to enlist black soldiers in early May. When the War Department refuses to pay or equip the soldiers, Hunter dissolved the regiment.
At Lincoln's request, Congress pledges financial aid to any state that would adopt a gradual emancipation scheme with compensation to slave owners
Congress abolishes slavery in the District of Columbia, with compensation to loyal owners, and appropriates money for the voluntary colonization of former slaves to Haiti, Liberia, or other countries.
At the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee, the first major battle in the Civil War’s Western theater, a Union victory allows Union forces to gain control of the Confederate railway system at Corinth, Mississippi.
Union Flag Officer David Farragut and his naval squadron force New Orleans to surrender.
April-August 1862 In its first major offensive in the Eastern theater, Union forces under General George B. McClellan fail to capture Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital.
May 1862 General David Hunter declares that all slaves in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida are free. President Lincoln subsequently nullifies General Hunter's decree.
June 1862 Congress abolishes slavery in the federal territories.
July 1862 On July 11, President Lincoln names Henry Halleck general-in-chief of the Union army.
On July 12, President Lincoln asks members of Congress from the border states to support gradual, compensated emancipation, with colonization of freed slaves outside the United States, warning that if they do not act soon, slavery in their states "will be extinguished by mere friction and abrasion—by the mere incidents of the war." Two days later, a majority of the congressmen reject Lincoln's appeal.
Congress passes the Second Confiscation Act, which declared that Confederate slave owners who did not surrender within 60 days of the acts passage were to be punished by having their slaves freed. The act also declared that all slaves who took refuge behind Union lines were to be set free.
Congress adopts the Militia Act, which permits blacks to serve in the military. It also grants freedom to any blacks who serve in the military and to their families if they belong to disloyal owners.
On July 22 President Lincoln announces to his cabinet his intention to issue a proclamation freeing slaves in the rebel states. He agrees to postpone the proclamation until after a suitable military victory
September 1862 In a failed attempt to prompt Britain and France to recognize the Confederacy and to bring the war to an early end, Robert E. Lee launches his first invasion of the North. At the battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland, more than 23,000 men killed, wounded, and missing in a single day, September 17,1862. In the bloodiest battle of the war, 2,108 Union soldiers were killed and 9,549 wounded and 2,700 Confederates were killed and 9,029 wounded.
Lee’s withdrawal to Virginia allows President Lincoln the opportunity to announce the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The prelimary Emancipation Proclamation states that all slaves in those states or portions of states still in rebellion as of January 1, 1863, will be declared free. It also pledges financial support for those slave states that are not in rebellion if they adopt an emancipation plan, and expresses support for the colonization of freed slaves outside the United States.
October 1862 Confederate Congress exempts from the military draft one white man on each plantation with twenty or more slaves
December 1862 Confederate President Davis issues proclamation ordering that black Union soldiers and their officers captured by Confederate troops are not to be treated as prisoners of war.
January 1863 On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves in areas still in rebellion (except Tennessee, southern Louisiana, and parts of Virginia) to be “forever free.” It also declares his intention of enlisting blacks in the military.
March 1863 -- The First Conscription Act. This act made all Northern men between 20 and 45 liable to be called for military service. Of the 249,259 18-to-35-year-old men whose names were drawn in the draft, only about 6 percent served; the rest paid a fee or hired a substitute. . May 1863 -- The Battle of Chancellorsville. A confederate victory at Virginia’s Rappahannock River proved very costly in terms of casualties, including the loss of General Stonewall Jackson.
May 1863 Ulysses S. Grant begins a six-week siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, which ultimately forces the Confederacy to surrender 30,000 soldiers.
June 1863 General George Meade replaced Halleck as commander of the Army of the Potomac.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee launches another invasion of the North.
July 1864 Lee’s defeat at the battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania ends Confederate hopes of recognition by European governments.
The surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4 and Fort Hudson, Louisiana, on July 8 give the Union control of the Mississippi River and splits the Confederacy in two.
President Lincoln threatens Union retaliation for Confederate execution or enslavement of black prisoners of war
November 1863 Union forces force Confederate troops away from Chattanooga, a vital railroad center. Chattanooga provided the base for General William Tecumseh Sherman's campaign against Atlanta.
.On November 19, President Lincoln dedicated a portion of the Gettysburg battlefield as a national cemetery, and delivered his "Gettysburg Address."
December 1863 President Lincoln offers to pardon and restore the property (except slaves) of Confederates who take an oath of allegiance to the Union and agree to accept emancipation.
April 1864 Senate approves the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery
Confederate troops under General Nathan B. Forrest massacre black soldiers captured at Fort Pillow, Tennessee
May-June 1864 In the Wilderness campaign, which took place in a forested area south of Virginia's Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers, the armies of Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee met in battle for the first time. Grant tried to use his larger army of about 118,000 soldiers to defeat the smaller Confederate army of about 60,000. Grant lost about 60,000 men and Lee 20,000 during the campaign.
Congress equalizes the pay of black and white soldiers equal. The measure is retroactive to January 1, 1864, or, for men who were free before the war, to the time of enlistment
June 1864 Union General Ulysses S. Grant attempts to take Petersburg, south of Richmond, and then approach the Confederate capital from the south. The plan fails and a tenth month siege of Petersburg begin.
July 1864 Confederate General Jubal Early led his forces into Maryland to relieve the pressure on Lee's army. Early got within five miles of Washington, D.C., but was driven back to Virginia.
August 1864 Union General William Tecumseh Sherman captures Atlanta September 1, boosting Northern morale and greatly contributing to Abraham Lincoln’s re-election as president.
November 1864 Abraham Lincoln is re-elected president.
December 1864 Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army concludes its march through Georgia by capturing Savannah.
January 1865 Confederate President Jefferson Davis approves the arming of slaves to augment the Confederate army, but the measure was never put into effect.
February 1865 Sherman Marches through North and South Carolina. Union General Sherman moved from Georgia through South Carolina, destroying almost everything in his path.
February 1865 Confederate President Jefferson Davis agrees to send delegates to a peace conference, but demands that President Lincoln recognize Confederate independence. The conference never occurred.
March 1865 Congress establishes the Freedmen's Bureau
April, 1865 Robert E. Lee evacuates Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, April 2.
Robert E. Lee surrenders his army on April 9 at Appomattox Court House, Virginia
President Lincoln assassinated on April 14; Vice-President Andrew Johnson succeeds to the presidency. Four individuals were hanged for their participation in the assassination; four were imprisoned, and one was acquitted.
May 1865 The final Confederate troops surrender.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis is captured in Georgia on May 10.
November, 1865 Captain Henry Wirz, the superintendent of the Confederate prison at Anderson Ville Georgia, is executed.
December 1865 The 13th Amendment is ratified, abolishing slavery.