Shelby Cooke said it best when he described what the Civil War meant to American History:
The Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things… It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.
It is amazing to me that a war that was fought over 150 years ago still effects our lives today. That is the effect of the Civil War. It set the stage for many things that would come later such as Civil Rights and Women’s Rights. It obliterated the southern economy which would not see a resurrection until World War 2.
Civil War Timeline: 1861
South Carolina troops take Fort Johnson, Charleston Harbor.
Alabama forces seize Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines at Mobile
Mississippi secedes from the Union.
Florida secedes. Forts Jackson and St. Philip are taken by Louisiana state forces
January 11 – February 1
Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas secede from the Union
Delegates of the seven seceded states meet as Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America
Jefferson Davis is chosen as provisional president of the Confederacy.
Jefferson Davis is inaugurated
Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States
Jefferson Davis issues a call for 100,000 volunteers to join the Confederate Army
The Federal outpost at Fort Bliss is surrendered to state troops
Brigadier General P.G.T Beauregard ordered to force Fort Sumter to surrender. It falls four days later
President Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers
Virginia joins the Confederacy
Lincoln places blockade against Confederate south
Lincoln suspends habeas corpus in Maryland. Two days later the state votes against secession.
Arkansas and Tennessee secede from Union
Union troops take arms from from the Missouri state militia near St. Louis
Much to the dismay of the south, Britain announces that it will stay neutral
North Carolina secedes from the union
Union forces under General McClellan win a victory at Philippi, Virginia
Union forces suffer a minor defeat at Bethel Church, Virginia
Union forces from St. Louis win a victory that will help them control the Missouri state capital, Jefferson City.
In a special session of Congress, Lincoln asks for 400,000 volunteers to join the Union Army
Confederate army win a minor victory at Carthage, in southwest Missouri
Union victory at Carrick’s Ford, Virginia
First Battle of Bull Run takes place. The Union is defeated and retreat in chaos
Confederate forces take control of Fort Fillmore in New Mexico.
Congress passes a tax and tariff bill to finance the Union war effort. It includes a provision for a national income tax though not put into effect.
Union forces retreat at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missouri
Union establishes a blockade around North Carolina
Major General John Fremont issues an unauthorized proclamation that frees slaves of secessionists in Missouri.
September 3 – 6
Confederate troops are sent into Kentucky which had tried to stay neutral. Ulysses S. Grant moves into Kentucky and occupies Paducah.
Lexington, Missouri, falls to Confederacy after brief siege
Jefferson Davis begins discussion an offensive from Virginia
South makes treaties with various Indian tribes. Some Indian warriors fight as Confederates
Confederate troops are defeated at Santa Rosa Island in Pensacola Bay, Florida
Union forces meet defeat at Ball’s Bluff near Leesburg, Virginia
President Lincoln removes Fremont from command in Missouri due to lack of success
George McClellan becomes Union general-in-chief
Battle of Belmont, Missouri, ends in Union victory and on the eastern coast the Union takes control of Port Royal, South Carolina.
The Trent Affair occurs when two Confederate diplomats are arrested on board a British ship Trent. This causes suspicions between the Union and British.
President Lincoln delivers his state of the union address to Congress which emphasizes the preservation of the Union.
Lincoln agrees to release the Confederate envoys aboard the Trent and offered a partial apology to Britain. This would end the possible confrontation between the Union and British.
Civil War Timeline: 1862
February 6 – 16
The Battles of Fort Henry and Donelson take place in Tennessee resulting in a Union victory
Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie Lincoln, dies of typhoid fever in the White House. Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln are devastated. He was the second of their children to die at a young age.
The ironclad Merrimac had begun to cause problems for the Union blockade. In response, the Union sent their own ironclad the Monitor out to defend their waters. The two ironclads met on March 9 and their battle was epic but resulted in a draw. The battle would change naval warfare forever.
After much prodding George McClellan moves his army to Richmond. It takes three weeks and 400 boats to make the move.
April 4 – 7
Confederate General Jeb Magruder stages theatrical troop movements at Yorktown, with an army of only 11,000, creating the appearance of a much larger force.
April 6 – 7
The Battle of Shiloh takes place and results in the Union victory. The Union continued their march through the western portion of the south. At the time Shiloh was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War
Abraham Lincoln signs a bill that prohibits slavery in the District of Columbia
New Orleans falls to the Union. This was a crippling blow to the Confederacy and any possibility of foreign intervention.
The Peninsula Campaign in Richmond, Virginia results in 36,000 casualties and a Confederate victory. George McClellan withdraws from the Peninsula.
August 29 – 30
The Second Battle of Bull Run takes place. The battle was much more structured than the first, but resulted in the same outcome, A confederate victory.
The Battle of Antietam results in a draw but a Union strategic victory. At the time the Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. By wars end it would be rank as the eight.
In one of the most scrutinized moves of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus for individuals deemed guilty of “discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting military drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice offering comfort to Rebels.”
The Confederate Congress passes a bill exempting from army service anyone owning 20 or more slaves.
The Battle of Fredericksburg results in another Confederate victory as Robert E Lee continues to bewilder the Union leaders.
December 31 – January 3, 1863
Battle of Murfreesboro results in a Union victory as the Union continues to take control of Tennessee.
Civil War Timeline: 1863
President Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation. At the time the war had been fought to solidify the Union, but with continued political pressure it became evident that when the war ended there needed to be significant change.
Congress passes the Conscription Act, calling for the enlistment in military service of all able-bodied males between 20 and 45 years of age for three-year terms.
Faced with an estimated 125,000 deserters, Abraham Lincoln issues general amnesty for all who will report back to duty.
April 21 – May 11
The Battle of Chancellorsville results in a Confederate Victory, but the victory comes at a cost when Stonewall Jackson was shot and eventually killed by the wound from friendly fire.
In three weeks Ulysses S. Grant’s army marches 180 miles through Mississippi, fights and wins five battles, and surrounds Vicksburg. After a failed attack on the city, Grant settles for a siege to “out-camp the enemy.”
July 1 – 3
The Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania results in a Union victory and a turning point in the war. Gettysburg became the bloodiest battle of the war.
Vicksburg falls to the Union. Ulysses S Grant has successfully gained control of the Mississippi river for the Union.
The 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry attacks Battery Wagner at Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The result was a Confederate victory, but a boost for morale.
Jefferson Davis offers amnesty to Confederate soldiers.
Confederate William C. Quantrill leads a guerilla raid on Lawrence, Kansas. The attack on August 21, 1863 targeted Lawrence due to the town’s long support of abolition and its reputation as a center for Jayhawkers and Redlegs, which were free-state militia and vigilante groups known for attacking and destroying farms and plantations in Missouri’s pro-slavery western counties.
September 19 – 20
The Battle of Chickamauga Creek in Georgia results in a Confederate escape after avoiding being trapped.
Lincoln gives his Gettysburg Address and dedicates the site as a battlefield cemetery
November 23 – 25
The Battle of Chattanooga ends with a Union victory over the Confederate forces. This opened the door for a Union invasion of the South.
Civil War Timeline: 1864
After many successes in the Western theatre, Abraham Lincoln names Ulysses S Grant as Commander-in-chief of the Union Army
The Confederate Army massacred a Black fighting unit at Fort Pillow, despite the Union men trying to surrender. The event was used as propaganda in the 1864 election which caused many who wavered in their belief of the Civil War to consider it a necessary war to finish.
May 5 – 19
The Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania near Chancellorsville, Virginia were inconclusive, but continued to bleed the Confederacy of men. Ulysses S Grant continued to advance despite taking heavy losses.
June 1 – 3
The Battle of Cold Harbor results in a Confederate victory and heavy Union losses. Later in his memoirs Grant would speak of his regret over the last assault at Cold Harbor. Despite the victory the Union continued to reinforce and pursue Robert E Lee. It would be Lee’s last defensive victory of the war.
Abraham Lincoln is nominated for president by the Union Party. Andrew Johnson, a Tennessee Union Democrat, is nominated as vice president.
Naval battle between C.S.S. Alabama and U.S.S. Kearsarge near Cherbourg, France. This resulted in a Union victory. The Union was never really challenged in
The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain resulted in a Confederate victory, but the Confederate army gained no tactical advantage and Sherman continued his march by adjusting his tactics.
July 11 – 12
Early’s Raid on Washington, D.C. resulted in a technical Union Victory, but Early achieved an alternative of seizing supplies and threatening the capital.
July 18 – September 3
The Battles of Atlanta results in the Fall of Atlanta to the Union. This effectively drove a stake through the heart of the South.
August 2 – 23
Mobile Bay falls to the Union which was the last port remaining in Confederate hands. This effectively completes the blockade in that region and begins to suffocate the Confederate nation more.
George McClellan is nominated as the Democratic candidate for President
The Battle of Cedar Creek results in a Union Victory. At the conclusion of this battle, the final Confederate invasion of the North was effectively ended. The Confederacy was never again able to threaten Washington, D.C. through the Shenandoah Valley, nor protect one of its key economic bases in Virginia. The stunning Union victory aided the reelection of Abraham Lincoln and won Sheridan lasting fame.
Confederate raiders, based in Canada, steal $200,000 from banks in the Vermont town of St. Albans.
Abraham Lincoln is re-elected to a second term winning more than 55 percent of the popular vote.
December 7 – January 15, 1865
The Battles of Fort Fisher begin. The first battle resulted in a Confederate victory, but the Union advanced again and took control of the last remaining coastal Confederate stronghold.
The Battle of Nashville was a two-day battle in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign that represented the end of large-scale fighting west of the coastal states in the Civil War. It was fought at Nashville, Tennessee, on December 15–16, 1864, between the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Lieutenant General John Bell Hood and Federal forces under Major General George H. Thomas. In one of the largest victories achieved by the Union Army during the war, Thomas attacked and routed Hood’s army, largely destroying it as an effective fighting force.
Sherman captures Savannah and continues to bring Total War to the southern economy
Civil War Timeline: 1865
Abraham Lincoln meets with the Confederate Peace Commission at Hampton Roads, Virginia. An agreement could not be reached. The South refused to accept the 13th Amendment which eliminated slavery.
Confederates abandon Charleston, South Carolina as Sherman continues his march up the coast.
Confederates allow the arming of slaves as soldiers
March 25 – April 2
The Siege of Petersburg results in a Union victory and Robert E Lee’s final retreat. The siege was Lee’s last great defense and his tactics of Trench Warfare had a large influence during World War 1.
April 3 – 4
Jefferson Davis flees Richmond and heads deeper south, while Abraham Lincoln sets foot in the Confederate capital.
Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee meet at the Appomattox Courthouse. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia and the Civil War is finally over
Six days after Lee’s surrender Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. The country mourns as the nation enters a time of reconstruction without the leadership or Lincoln.