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.
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.