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.