February 9 – Formation of the Confederate States America with Jefferson Davis as President.
April 12 – The Civil War begins, as General Pierre Beauregard and his Confederates open fire on Fort Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina, armed with 50 cannons.
April 17 – Virginia formally withdraws from the Union. In the weeks that follow, Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina follow suit, forming an 11 state Confederacy.
April 19 – President Abraham Lincoln issues a “Proclamation of Blockade” against Southern ports. Preventing the South from acquiring the ammunition, food, and other vital supplies they need to fight against the North.
July 4 – Lincoln, in a speech to Congress, states: “This is essentially a People’s contest. On the side of the Union, it is a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men. . . . to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life.” Congress authorizes a call for 500,000 men to fight for the Union Army.
July 21 – General Thomas J. Jackson is nicknamed “Stonewall” due to his continued resistance to Union Army attacks. The Union Army under General Irvin McDowell is defeated at Bull Run, and retreats to Washington.
July 27 – Following McDowell’s defeat, George B. McClellan is appointed as Commander of the Department of the Potomac.
September 11 – General John C. Frémont’s unauthorized military proclamation of emancipation in Missouri is revoked by President Lincoln, who also relieves him of command. He is replaced by General David Hunter.
November 1 – General-in-Chief of all Union Forces, Winfield Scott resigns, and he is replaced by George B. McClellan.
November 8 – President Lincoln narrowly avoids war with the English when he allows the release of two Confederate Officials who had been captured by the U.S. Navy on their way to England, while enforcing the blockade.
January 31 – President Lincoln issues General War Order No. 1, “that the 22nd. day of February 1862, be the day for a general movement of the Land and Naval forces of the United States against the insurgent forces.”
February 6 – Victory for General Ulysses S. Grant captures Fort Henry in Tennessee, Ten days later, he captures Fort Donelson and is thereafter nicknamed General “Unconditional Surrender” (U.S.) Grant.
February 20 – President Lincoln loses his son, William “Willie” Wallace Lincoln, who dies at the age of 11, from fever.
March 8,9 – The Confederate Ironclad “Merrimac” sinks two wooden Union ships, then battles to a draw with the Union Ironclad “Monitor”. From then on, wooden ships are considered obsolete. General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac begins its advance by water to the peninsular south of Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital.
April 6,7 – 10,000 Confederates, and 13,000 of General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union soldiers lay dead and wounded following a surprise attack from the Confederates at Shiloh on the Tennessee river. President Lincoln fends off demands for Grant’s removal, saying, “I can’t spare this man; he fights!”
April 24-17 – New Orleans, the South’s most important seaport, is taken by Flag Officer David Farragut’s Union ships.
May 31 – General McClellan’s forces are nearly defeated near Richmond, in The Battle of Seven Pines (a.k.a. Fair Oaks), by General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate troops, but when Johnston was badly wounded and command was transferred to was transferred to Major General G.W. Smith, the Confederates failed to overwhelm the Union forces which by then had brought in reinforcements. Both sides claimed victory, suffering an even number of casualties.
January 1 – President Lincoln’s final Emancipation Proclamation is issued, freeing all slaves in Confederate territories, and abolishing the practice of slavery; He makes a point of emphasizing the enlisting of African-American soldiers in the Union army.
January 25 – General Joseph Hooker is appointed by President Lincoln as the new commander of the Army of the Potomac.
January 29 – General Ulysses S. Grant is given command of the Army of the West, and ordered to take Vicksburg, Mississippi.
March 3 – A draft affecting all male citizens aged between 20 and 45 is issued to strengthen the Union forces. Poor families are outraged at the exemption of those able to afford a sum of $300 in lieu of service.
May 1-4 – General Hooker’s Union Army is defeated by Lee’s forces at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. Lee’s innovative strategies are at the heart of his success, but it is still a small victory for the Confederates, as General Stonewall Jackson is fatally wounded by his own men. General Hooker later admits to losing his self-confidence during the battle. 17,000 Union soldiers and 13,000 Confederates die during the fight.
May 10 – General Stonewall Jackson dies as the result of his wounds. General Lee is now the only remaining threat to the Union forces.
June 3 – General Lee decides to try and once again invade the North, sending 75,000 Confederates towards Pennsylvania.
June 1 – General Robert E. Lee assumes command of General Johnson’s forces, then renames them the Army of Northern Virginia.
June 25-July 1 – General Lee’s Army attacks McClellan’s Union forces The Seven Days Battles, near Richmond. McClelland withdraws back towards Washington.
July 11 – President Lincoln transfers the post of General-in-Chief to General Henry W. Halleck
August 29/30 – General John Pope’s Union soldiers are defeated by General Stonewall Jackson and General James Longstreet’s Confederates at the second battle of Bull Run in northern Virginia. Pope is relieved of command after he too withdraws back to Washington.
September 4-9 – Lee attempt to invade the North with his Army, heading towards Harpers Ferry, near Washington. But his forces are no match for McClelland’s 90,000 Union Army soldiers, who then pursue Lee and his men.
September 17 – The bloodiest battle in U.S. military history unfolds as McClellan and his Union forces battle General Lee’s Confederate Army at Antietam, Maryland. By the day’s end, over 26,000 of Lee’s men are reported either dead, wounded, or missing in action. He gathers the rest of his troops and retreats to Virginia.
September 22 – Lincoln issues a Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves.
November 7 – General Ambrose E. Burnside is designated as the new Commander of the Army of the Potomac following Lincoln’s frustration with McClellan’s complacency following his success at Antietam.
December 13 – Over 12,000 of General Burnside’s soldiers perish in Fredericksburg, Virginia, following a steady stream of attempts at overcoming the well entrenched Confederates.
March 9 – General Ulysses S. Grant is given command of all of the armies of the United States by President Lincoln. President Lincoln appoints General Grant to command all of the armies of the United States. General William T. Sherman takes over Grant’s Army of the West.
May 4 – The Union Armies begin a massive coordinated campaign. Grant and his 120,000 soldiers advance towards Richmond to engage General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, which has been whittled down to 64,000 men. Thus begins a war of attrition (whoever is left standing). Meanwhile, in the West, Sherman’s troops advance towards Atlanta to fight Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee.
May 5-6 – Battle at the Wilderness.
May 8-12 – Battle at Spotsylvania.
June 1-3 – Battle at Cold Harbor: Grant’s forces suffer a high number of casualties during a raid on the Rebel fort.
June 15 – After Union forces fail to capture St-Petersburg, and cut off the Confederate rail lines, Grant’s troops begins a nine month siege on Lee’s army.
July 20 – General William T. Sherman’s Army of the West fights against General John B. Hood’s Rebels in Atlanta.
August 29 – George B. McClellan is nominated as Democratic candidate. He is set to run against Republican incumbent Abraham Lincoln in the upcoming presidential election.
September 2 – Sherman takes Atlanta. This victory by the Army of the West plays a key role in Lincoln’s campaign for re-election.
October 19 – Cavalry General Philip H. Sheridan’s Union forces defeat Jubal Early’s troops in the Shenandoah Valley.
November 8 – Abraham Lincoln is re-elected President.
November 15 – Sherman continues his campaign against the Rebels in Atlanta, destroying the city’s warehouses and railroad facilities, then with the approval of president Lincoln and General Grant, he and his Army of the West undertake a March to the Sea.
December 15/16 – General George H. Thomas and 55,000 Federals, which includes “Negro troops”, defeat John B. Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee at Nashville.
December 21 – Sherman’s forces leave nothing unscathed as they continue their March through Georgia, he takes Savannah, which he then offers to Lincoln as a “Christmas present”.
January 31 – U.S. Congress approves the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution:
- Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
- Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation
The amendment is then submitted to the states to be ratified.
February 3 – President Lincoln meets with Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens at Hampton Roads in Virginia, in an effort to make peace, but alas, the meeting is a failure, and the war continues. The only remaining military opposition faced by the 280,000 man strong Northern forces are General Lee’s army at Petersburg, and Joseph E. Johnston’s troops in North Carolina.
March 4 – Inauguration ceremonies for President Lincoln take place in Washington. The President delivers his second inaugural address, calling for an end to the war.
March 25 – Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia attacks Grant’s forces at Petersburg. The attack fails in a matter of hours.
April 2 – General Grant’s forces plow through Lee’s lines at Petersburg. Confederate General Ambrose P. Hill is killed, and Lee evacuates Petersburg, unable to fend off the might of the Northern forces. Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate Capital, is evacuated.
April 3 – Union troops enter Richmond and raise the Stars and Stripes.
April 4 – President Lincoln tours Richmond, after entering the Confederate White House, he sits at Jefferson Davis’ desk.
April 9 – General Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to General Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia.
April 10 – Washington celebrates its victory.
April 14 – The Stars and Stripes is raised over Fort Sumter. During the evening of the same day, President Lincoln is shot in the by John Wilkes Booth as he and his wife are attending a play at Ford’s theater. Booth jumps over the wall of the theater, catching his foot on the bunting decorating the front of the presidential box, he then crashes on the stage and breaks his leg; he manages to stumble out the back of the stage and make his escape on horseback.
April 15 – At 7:22 am, as doctors struggle to save him, President Abraham Lincoln dies. He is immediately replaced by Vice President Andrew Johnson.
April 18 – Following General Lee’s lead, General Joseph E. Johnston surrenders his Confederate Army to General William Sherman near Durham, North Carolina.
April 26 – John Wilkes Booth is shot by detectives while hiding out in a tobacco barn in Virginia, hours later, he dies from his wounds.
May 4 – Abraham Lincoln is laid to rest in Oak Ridge Cemetery, near Springfield, Illinois. In the days that follow, the remaining Confederate Rebels surrender.
The Civil War cost over half a million American lives, in addition to dying in battle, many succumbed to disease and starvation, with many of the “lucky” ones who survived the conflict returning home as amputees.