The Civil War Gazette Civil War Timeline is a linear, chronological look at the important events related to the American Civil War, fought between April 1861 and April 1865. The timeline includes major battles and skirmishes, significant political events impacting the war, deaths of major military figures, as well as details of important battles including casualty numbers.

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Prior to 1860

1787 – The United States Constitution is ratified; slaves are counted as three-fifths of a person and enjoy no rights of citizenship.

1793 – Eli Whitney, a northerner, invents the cotton gin.

1803 – Louisiana Purchase roughly doubles the size of the United States.

1831 – William Lloyd Garrison begins publication of radical abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator.
1831 – 55 whites killed in Virginia slave revolt led by Nat Turner.

1837 – Pro-slavery mod kills abolitionist editor Elijah P. Lovejoy in Alton, Illinois.

1846-8 – War with Mexico adds territory to the United States.

1852 – Harriet Beecher Stowe’s inter-national best-seller, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, exposes the evils of slavery.

1854-5 – Anti-slavery northerners found the Republican Party.

1854 – The Kansas-Nebraska Act allows incoming settlers to decide for themselves whether to permit slavery.

1857 – The Supreme Court decides that a slave, Dred Scott, has no rights a white man is bound to respect.

1858 – Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debate issues in the campaign for Illinois United States Senate seat.

1859 – John Brown is executed for treason against the state of Virginia after his unsuccessful attempt to incite a slave uprising at Harper’s Ferry.


November 1860

November 6 – Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th President of the United States.

December 1860

December 20 – South Carolina votes to secede from the Union, the first southern State to do so.

December 26 – U.S. Major Robert Anderson transfers his small garrison from unprotected Ft. Moultrie, in Charleston harbor, to the impregnable Ft. Sumter.

January 1861

January 9 – The unarmed vessel, Star of the West, arrives to reinforce the Federal garrison of soldiers at Ft. Sumter in Charleston harbor and is fired upon by southerners. The reinforcements are never delivered.

January 9 – Mississippi becomes the second State to secede from the Union.

January 11 – Alabama becomes the third State to secede.

January – 19 – Georgia secedes from the Union, becoming the fourth southern State to do so.

January 26 – Louisiana becomes the fifth southern State to formally secede.

January 29 – Kansas is admitted to the Union as a free state.

February 1861

February 1 – Texas secedes from the Union, the sixth State to do so.

February 4 – Southern States that have seceded (except Texas) meet in Montgomery, Alabama, to discuss forming a separate nation.

February 8 – Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States is adopted by seceding States.

February 18 – Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as the Provisional President of the Confederate States of America. The song Dixie becomes the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy as it is played at his inauguration ceremony.

March 1861

March 4 – Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated.

March 6 – The new Confederate Congress authorizes the use of 100,000 volunteer soldiers for twelve months.

March 29 – President Lincoln, after seeking counsel, decides to reinforce Ft. Sumter and not abandon it to the South.

April 1861

April 12/13 – The American Civil War officially begins when rebels in Charleston fire on the U.S. Fort Sumter in the harbor. Fire is returned from the Federals. There are no war-casualties. The fort is surrendered on the 13th.

April 15 – President Abraham Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers to serve a 90-day term in the U.S. Army to quell the rebellion. In December 1860 there were barely 16,000 men in the Army, most positioned in the Western region of the United States.

April 17 – the upper north part of Virginia secedes from the Union seizing the shipyard at Norfolk and the armory at Harper’s Ferry.

April 18 – Robert E. Lee rejects offer to head up the U.S. Army at request of Abraham Lincoln.

April 19 – Union soldiers of the 6th Massachusetts Infantry are attacked on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland. Four soldiers and twelve civilians are killed in the violence. Maryland would officially remain a border State throughout the war, though a slave-holding State.

April 19 – Lincolns orders blockade of Confederate States.

May 1861

May 3 – President calls for 42,000 three-year enlistment volunteers and 18,000 sailors. Also on this day. General Winfield Scott formally proposes a naval blockade strategy meant to squeeze the South back into submission. Called ‘The Anaconda Plan’, it is initially ridiculed.

May 6 – Arkansas secedes from the Union.

May 8 – President Jefferson Davis calls for 400,000 volunteers to serve in the rebellion for three years or till end of the war. The response by Southerners was overwhelming.

May 9 – riots break out in St. Louis, Missouri, as U.S. General Nathaniel Lyon marches captured militia through the streets. Twenty-eight soldiers and two civilians are killed.

May 13 – England, under Queen Victoria, formally declares a neutral status in the conflict between the Northern and Southern States.

May 20 – North Carolina secedes and the Provisional Congress of the Confederacy votes to move the capitol from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia.

May 24th – New York Zouave soldier Elmer Ellsworth is killed at a hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, when he removes a secessionist flag.

June 1861

June 8 – Tennessee becomes the final southern State to secede from the Union.

June 10 – Dorothea Lynde Dix is appointed Superintendent of Women Nurses for the Union. She becomes known as “Dragon Dix”.

June 11 – Delegates of ‘pro-Union’ sentiments meet in Wheeling, Virginia, to discuss the fate of the western portion of Virginia. They would eventually break off and form West Virginia, a pro-Union State.

June 13 – President Lincoln signs legislation forming the United States Sanitary Commission, a civilian organization whose aim is to provide care for the sick & wounded in the war.

July 1861

July 13 – Robert S. Garnett [C.S.A.] becomes the first general killed in the Civil War at Corrick’s Ford in western Virginia.

July 21 – The first major battle of the Civil War takes place, called Bull Run I, in Manassas, Virginia. McDowell’s 35,000 Federals are defeated by 30,000 Confederates under Beauregaard and Johnston. It is also on this day when Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson is heralded with the name of “Stonewall” by Barnard Bee. In the Union retreat, Federal soldiers get tangled up with local civilians causing a rout of the Union retreat. The South now has a strong presence close to Washington, D.C., and the entire nation is awakened to the reality that the war may last a long time and result in horrible casualty numbers.

July 22 – General George B. McClellan is summoned to Washington to assume command of the Union Army of the Potomac.

July 22/23 – President Lincoln signs legislation authorizing the enlistment of one million soldiers for three-year terms.

July 25 – General John C. Fremont takes command of Union forces in Missouri.

August 1861

August 3 – the U.S. Congress approves legislation to build three iron-clad naval vessels.

August 5 – Congress approves the first income tax in U.S. history, to pay for the war.

August 6 – Congress passes the First Confiscation Act which states that slaves employed by the Confederacy are no longer slaves.

August 10 – Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missouri; Union General Nathaniel Lyons is killed.

September 1861

September 1 – first school for contraband (escaped slaves) is established in the South by Mary Chase, in Alexandria, Virginia.

October 1861

October 21 – Union defeat at Ball’s Bluff, Virginia.

November 1861

November 1 – General George B. McClellan replaces General Winfield Scott as General-in-Chief of the entire U.S. Army.

November 7 – Navy Captain Samuel Du Pont leads U.S. forces to victory at Port Royal, South Carolina. Area becomes major stage for experimental education and work for over 10,000 contraband and freedman.

November 28 – Confederate government admits Missouri as the twelfth Confederate State even though Missouri will remain in the Union.

December 1861

December 10 – Confederate Congress claims Kentucky as the thirteenth Confederate State.

January 1862

January 15 – Edwin M. Stanton is confirmed by Senate as Secretary of War.

January 27- Discontented with McClellan’s slow pace to prosecute the war, Lincoln issues General War Order #1:

January 30 – U.S.S. Monitor is launched in Long Island, New York.

February 1862

February 6 – Under combined land/river forces led by Ulysses S. Grant and Andrew H. Foote, Federal forces capture Confederate-controlled Fort Henry on the Tennessee River.

February 16 – a second major blow is delivered in the Western theater in the same month when General Grant demands the ‘unconditional surrender’ of the Confederate forces at Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in Tennessee. C.S.A. General Simon B. Buckner surrenders the fort to Grant.

February 22 – Jefferson Davis, from Kentucky, is formally inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America, having served as provisional President.

February 25 – Nashville, Tennessee, becomes the first southern State capital to be captured by the Union, without a shot even being fired. It will remain in Federal control the remainder of the war. Also on this day, Lincoln signs the Legal Tender Act creating the first national currency.

March 1862

March 7/8 – Battle of Pea Ridge (Arkansas), also known as Elkhorn Tavern, is a Union victory and helps keep Missouri a Union State.

March 8 – Lincoln demotes McClellan to commander of just Army of the Potomac due to his cautiousness of prosecuting the Union war effort.

March 8/9 – Confederate iron-clad C.S.S. Virginia (formerly U.S.S. Merrimack) sinks two wooden Federal ships and runs others aground near Hampton Roads, Virginia. March 9th the C.S.S. Virginia duels with the U.S.S. Monitor to a draw. Dueling iron-clads will change naval history forever.

March 13 – U.S. article of war forbids Union army officers from returning fugitive slaves to their masters.

March 14 –  Federals capture New Madrid, Missouri, and New Berne, North Carolina.
Reports, letters 1 |

March 23 – Stonewall Jackson suffers a tactical defeat at the first battle of Kernstown in opening Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

April 1862

April 5 – First major action in Peninsula Campaign begins with seige of Yorktown, under George B. McClellan.

April 6/7 – the most devastating clash between the North and South (to date) takes places at Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River that would be called the battle of Shiloh. General Albert Sidney Johnston’s Confederate forces launch a surprise attack against Union General Ulysses S. Grant and nearly destroys the Union Army on day one. Grant gets reinforcements on day two and controls the field by days’ end, scattering the Confederate troops back toward Corinth, Mississippi. Grant and William T. Sherman are lauded for their leadership at Shiloh. P.G.T. Beauregaard’s (C.S.A.) stock rises for the Southern military command. Casualties are estimated at an amazing 24,000 combined.
See the photo gallery of the modern-day battle of Shiloh site.
Reports, letters, and newspaper articles 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

April 8 – Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River finally falls to Union General John Pope.

April 11 – Fort Pulaski, on the Savannah River, falls to the Union after severe bombardment.

April 16 – Confederate Congress, following numerous Western Theater losses in the past three months, issues the first-ever conscription act in American military history. This would be just the first of three Confederate conscription acts.

April 21 – the Confederate Congress passes the Partisan Ranger Act thereby legitimizing many guerilla organizations fighting throughout the Confederacy. Partisan leaders like John Singleton Mosby and William Quantrill will soon become Confederate officers.

April 24 – Navy Captain David Farragut (USA) launches his siege against New Orleans, eventually capturing the largest Confederate city by May 1st.

May 1862

May 3 – Confederate forces evacuate Yorktown after a one-month seige by McClellan-led Union forces. Activity around Virginia Peninsula increases after battle of Williamsburg on May 5th.

May 8 – Stonewall Jackson wins his first Shenandoah Valley Campaign victory at the battle of McDowell, Virginia. Succeeding Shenandoah victories will see Jackson’s army move rapidly toward the Potomac River. Perhaps the Confederacy’s finest field commander, Jackson would be dead nearly one year later at Guiney Station.

May 13 – a young slave from Charleston, Robert Smalls, escapes aboard a Confederate steamer, the Planter, with family members and several friends in the early morning hours. The boat is turned over to the Union blockading fleet under Admiral Samuel Du Pont, and Smalls becomes a Union naval hero and black leader.
Read report or newspaper article 1 | 2 | 3 |

May 20 – U.S. Congress passes the Homestead Act of 1862, offering 160 acres of land to any male settler who will migrate and become a homesteader in the fertile ground of the Western United States. Some 25,000 settlers will eventually take advantage of this opportunity.

May 29/30 – C.S.A. General P.G.T. Beauregaard evacuates Corinth, Mississippi – a major Confederate railroad junction – as Northern forces approach.

May 31 – Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston is wounded at the battle of Fair Oaks (Seven Pines) on the Virginia Peninsula and General Robert E. Lee assumes command of what will become the Army of Northern Virginia.

June 1862

June 6 – Memphis, Tennessee, a rebel stronghold, falls to the Union after Federal rams sink Confederate vessels.

June 8/9 – C.S.A. General Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign comes to a close with victories at Cross Keys and Port Republic. This campaign kept Union forces distracted and engaged for weeks thus preventing them from providing reinforcements for McClellan in the Peninsula Campaign.

June 12-16 — James Ewell Brown (Jeb) Stuart leads some 1,200 Confederate calvary around the Virginia Peninsula winning skirmishes, capturing equipment and soldiers, destroying enemy supplies and gathering a name for himself.

June 17 – Braxton Bragg replaces Beauregaard as commander of the Western Theater for the Confederacy.

June 19 – President Abraham Lincoln signs legislation prohibiting slavery in the territories of the United States.

June 25 – attempting to counter pro-slavery and sympathetic organizations like Knights of the Golden Circle – in the South, the first Union League is established in Pekin, Illinois, designed to promote Union morale and support the Northern war effort.

June 25-July 1 — the Seven Days Campaign changes the face of the war in the Eastern Theater as Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia relieves Richmond and Lee takes the initiative to drive his army (eventually) into Northern territory.

July 1862

July 1 – battle of Malvern Hill ends the Seven Days Campaign in a torrential display of artillery from both sides. McClellan’s Federal troops fail to take Richmond, but Lee’s Confederates also fail to destroy McClellan’s army.

July 2 – Lincoln calls for 300,000 more volunteers for the Union war machine.

July 13 – Lincoln tells Secretary of State William Seward he will issue an Emancipation Proclamation soon. The President informs his cabinet on the 22nd.

July 17 – U.S. Congress passes the Second Confiscation Act.

July 22 – both sides agree to an exchange of cartel regarding the care of prisoners. Under this agreement, most prisoners will be returned to their respective side with some speed. This agreement will last until the spring of 1863.

July 23 – C.S.A. General Braxton Bragg begins his unsuccessful invasion of Kentucky.

August 1862

August 20 – At the bidding of Major General Hunter, Robert Smalls (escaped slave from May 13, 1862) and missionary Mansfield French, meet with President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton, seeking authorization to recruit five thousand black troops. Permission was granted five days later.

August 21 – in response to rumors that the Union is employing blacks in service to the Union war effort, the Confederate military command issues an order that basically says that captured black Union soldiers shall be subject to the death penalty.

August 24 – Confederate raider C.S.S. Alabama, captained by Raphael Semmes, is commissioned for service.

August 25 – Lincoln agrees to allow blacks to serve in the Union army, authorizing South Carolina military governor, General Rufus Saxton, to form five black regiments from the Sea Islands area. The regiments will be led by white officers.

August 28-30 — Confederates win the battle of Second Manassas (Bull Run II) led by Robert E. Lee. After the battle, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton calls for assistance from volunteer nurses. Males and females respond Clara Barton performs sterlingly.

September 1862

September 16-18 — Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia clash with McClellan’s Union forces at Sharpsburg, Maryland, in what will become known as Antietam. The worst single-day – the 17th – of bloodshed took place at Antietam. Lee retreats and fails to win the day, thus failing in drawing in the support of England to the Southern cause. McClellan fails to destroy Lee’s army before it could cross the Potomac and retire to the Shenandoah Valley.

September 22 – Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation declaring that on January 1, 1863:

“. . . . all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free . . . “

September 24 – Abraham Lincoln suspends writ of habeas corpus. The writ is a means by which detainees can seek relief from unlawful imprisonment.

September 27 – Second Conscription Act goes into effect in the Confederate States, allowing men age 35 to 45 to be called up for service.

October 1862

October 8 – Braxton Bragg’s Kentucky Campaign comes to an unsuccessful end with his defeat at Perryville, Kentucky.

October 10-12 — C.S.A. General Jeb Stuart completes another successful cavalry ride around the Army of the Potomac, riding as far north as Chambersburg, PA.

October 11 – The Confederate Congress passes a bill exempting from army service anyone owning 20 or more slaves.

November 1862

November 7 – Lincoln replaces McClellan – commander of the Army of the Potomac – with Ambrose Burnside.

November 21 – C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis appoints Virginian James A. Seddon as secretary of war for the Confederacy. Seddon becomes the fifth war secretary but will serve until April 1865 from here on out.

December 1862

December 13 – battle of Fredericksburg (Virginia). Site where the Army of the Potomac suffers one of it’s worst defeats in the Civil War. Burnside’s Federal troops will suffer over 13,000 casualties to the South’s 4,500. This defeat will lead to Burnside’s replacement in January by Joseph Hooker.

December 20 – Confederate cavalry destroy a Union supply depot at Holly Springs, Mississippi, under Earl Van Dorn. General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s rebel cavalry played a major role in causing U.S. Grant to abandon his first seige of Vicksburg. This Southern victory impacts Northern moral just before the war extends into a new year, 1863.

December 31-January 2 — A major battle takes place over three days in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to become known as the battle of Stone’s River. The forces engaged include the Confederate Army of Tennessee, led by Braxton Bragg, and the Army of the Cumberland led by William Rosecran’s. It is the bloodiest battle to date in terms of casualties weighed against the numbers of men fighting. More than one-third of the Confederates were killed, wounded or captures; and the Union suffered similar casualties. The results boosted Northern morale.

January 1863

January 1 – President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.

January 20-22 – General Ambrose Burnside gets bogged down in trying to flank the Confederates near Fredericksburg. It becomes a major public relations nightmare known as the Mud March.

January 25 – “Fighting Joe” Hooker replaces Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac.

February 1863

February 25 – National Currency Act goes into effect for the United States, (later to become known as the National Banking Act of 1864) making it easier to finance the war with government bonds.

March 1863

March 3 – 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 terms of three years.

March 6 – white mobs in Detroit riot in the black section of the city, killing several blacks.

March 10 – Faced with an estimated 125,000 deserters, Lincoln issues o general amnesty for all who will report back to duty.

April 1863

April 2 – Richmond food riot occurs due to shortages of rations for the Confederate army.

April 7 – Union iron-clad are repulsed at Fort Sumter showing the strength of the rebel naval defenses.

April 16 – Grant turns his attention again towards Vicksburg by sending gunboats and transports to the region. He will eventually capture the city in a couple months. The city was deemed impregnable by the citizens, hailing it as the “Gibraltar of the West”.

April 17 – Gierson’s 600 mile cavalry raid begins in Mississippi in an effort to divert attention away from Grant’s gunboats near Vicksburg. 1,700 Union cavalry wound wreak havoc in Mississippi in a two week period.

April 27 – Union General Joe Hooker launches his Chancellorsville Campaign in Northern Virginia in an attempt to get around Lee’s left flank.

May 1863

May 1-5th – Outnumbered more than 2 to 1, Lee divides his army in a risky, bold move to counter Joseph Hooker’s strategy at Chancellorsville. In perhaps one of his most brilliant executions of military strategy, Lee will win the battle but lose his “right arm” – Stonewall Jackson – as the famed general is mortally wounded by his own men in a night reconnaissance mission. Jackson will die at Guiney Station of pneumonia on May 10.

May 10 – Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson dies at Guiney Station from complications related to pneumonia. He had been shot by friendly fire on May 5th during the Chancellorsville Campaign. Lee will have to re-organize his entire army because of the loss of Jackson, this just weeks before Lee invades the North at Gettysburg. The loss of Jackson is devastating to the South. The win at Chancellorsville by Lee boosts morale for the rebels however.

May 15 – Robert E. Lee outlines a plan to invade the North after his stunning victory at Chancellorsville over Hooker. His invasion of the North, in Pennsylvania, is a bold attempt to capture supplies, to influence Europe’s support of the South, and to turn the tide of war permanently toward the rebels.

May 18 – Grant has Vicksburg surrounded after severals mall victories in the past two weeks: including, Jackson (Miss.), Champion Hill, and Big Black River Bridge.

May 19 – Ohio congressman Clement Vallandigham, an out-spoken critic of Lincoln and the war, is exiled to the South.

May 22 – rebels at Vicksburg initially repel Union assaults by Grant, but the Union commander digs in for an extended seige that will eventually succeed in early July.
Read letter 1 |

June 1863

June 7 -black ‘contraband’ Union soldiers see action at Milliken’s Bend on the Mississippi, near Vicksburg. Some black soldiers are captured and reportedly murdered.

June 9 – cavalry battle at Brandy Station, Virginia, takes place. Many consider it the greatest cavalry fight of the entire war. Union forces led by Alfred Pleasanton squared off against rebel leader Jeb Stuart. Brandy Station is considered the opening action of the Gettysburg Campaign.

June 10 – Robert E. Lee starts advancing his Army of Northern Virginia toward Pennsylvania.

June 20 – West Virginia is admitted into the Union. It is the only State formed directly as a result of the Civil War.

June 23 – Union commander and General William S. Rosecrans begins his Tullahoma Campaign which will eventually drive Confederate General Braxton Bragg out of Middle Tennessee.

June 28 – Just a few days before action begins at Gettysburg (July 1), Lincoln replaces Joseph Hooker with General George Meade.

July 1863

July 1-3rd – What starts out as a minor skirmish between A.P. Hill’s Confederates and dismounted cavalry of Union General John Buford on July 1st, becomes a full-blown disaster for the rebels by July 3rd as Lee’s advance into Pennsylvania is turned back and his entire army will retreat within 72 hours, never to invade the North again. Over 158,00 total combined forces will square off at Gettysburg resulting in staggering casualties numbering over 51,000. Lee’s wounded train, heading back across the Potomac, will extend 14 miles. Meade does not pursue the retreating rebel army, thus failing to destroy Lee and end the war. It will continue another 18 months.

July 4 – The once-thought impregnable city of Vicksburg, on the Mississippi River, finally surrenders to Grant. This is a major strategic victory shadowed by the Union victory at Gettysburg.

July 13-16th – the New York draft riots erupt in the heart of the city as mostly Irish immigrants protest the U.S. laws drafting U.S. citizens into the war. At least 100 civilians are killed during the draft riots.

July 18 – The Union assault upon Fort Wagner, on Morris Island near Charleston, is led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and his 54th Massachusset’s black regiment. Shaw will die with many of his troops in this failed attempt to take take the fort. The story will be immortalized in the movie Glory.

August 1863

August 1 – Jefferson Davis offers amnesty to all Confederate deserters.

August 19 – With 20,000 Federal troops on hand, the draft resumes in New York City after the draft riots just a month earlier.

August 21st-22nd -William Quantrill leads an attack with 450 Confederate guerillas in Lawrence, Kansas. Nearly 200 people are killed.

September 1863

September 2 – Ambrose Burnside occupies Knoxville (TN) after Confederate forces evacuate the East Tennessee Union-sympathetic town. Also, Union forces under William S. Rosecrans also move toward the strategic town of Chattanooga in East Tennessee to gain control of the only railroad linking the eastern and western theater.

September 8 – Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee evacuate Chattanooga, giving control of it to the Union forces. Davis considers the loss a significant blow to the South’s ability to win and maintain the war effort.

September 10 – Little Rock, Arkansas, falls to the Union, dealing a major blow to the Trans-Mississippi Confederate strength.

September 19-20th – the battle of Chickamauga takes place in north Georgia between Union troops commanded by Rosecrans and Southern troops led by Bragg. A tactical Confederate victory, but Bragg loses almost 20,000 men from his army. Union General George H. Thomas will play a crucial role in staving off a total disaster for the Federals. For his efforts he will be called “The Rock of Chickamauga”. Letter 1 | 2 |

October 1863

October 17 – Grants receives command of the Western armies for the Union.

October 23 – Grant arrives in Chattanooga to personally take inventory of the Confederate siege of the city for the past month.

November 1863

November 4 – Lt. James Longstreet will detach 15,000 men from Bragg’s Army of Tennessee and head toward Knoxville to counter the Union siege there. Longstreet’s action will accomplish nothing but weaken the strength of the Army of Tennessee.

November 19 – President Abraham Lincoln visits Gettysburg to dedicate the cemetery and deliver a few brief comments in a speech known as the Gettysburg Address.

November 23-25th – with the arrival of Sherman’s divisions, in mid November, Union General George H. Thomas, under Grant, begins an offensive campaign against the Confederate seige and control of Chattanooga. Union forces win victories at Orchards Knob and Lookout Mountain the first two days, then on the 25th, the Federals assault the Confederate position at Missionary Ridge winning the day, thus placing control of Chattanooga back into Union hands again. A crucial Union victory, Chattanooga will become the supply and logistics hub for Sherman’s 1864 Atlanta Campaign, which will indelibly write the final chapter in the Civil War.

December 1863

December 16 – Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston assumes command of the Army of Tennessee, replacing Braxton Bragg.

January 1864

January 2 – Confederate General Patrick R. Cleburne – “Stonewall of the West” – proposes freeing slaves and arming them to fight for the South. This sets off a fire-storm among some southern military leaders and arguably costs Cleburne future promotions. Confederate Congress will eventually approve using blacks to fight for Confederacy in March 1865.

February 1864

February 17, 1864 – H.L. Hunley – Confederate submarine – sinks a Union ship then disappears in the Charleston Bay. The entire crew is lost.

February 27 – first Federal prisoners are delivered to Andersonville Prison in Sumter County, Georgia. Some 43,000 Union soldiers will eventually spend time at the prison. Over 13,000 men died there. Less than 350 escaped.

March 1864

March 2 – U.S. Grant named General-in-Chief of Union armies.

March 4 – Lincoln gives his second Inaugural Address.

March 9 – Ulysses S. Grant receives formal promotion to Lt. General, the highest rank, only previously held by President George Washington.

March 18 – William T. Sherman assumes command of Union forces in the West.

March 25 – Union General Banks begins Red River campaign.

April 1864

April 8 – Confederate General Richard Taylor defeats Banks at Sabine Crossroads, Louisiana.

April 12 – Confederate cavalryman, General Nathan Bedford Forrest captures Fort Pillow (TN) on the Mississippi River. Surrendered U.S. Colored Troops are massacred, sending shock waves throughout the country.

May 1864

May 5-7th – After two days of inconclusive fighting between Lee and Grant in the Virginia Wilderness, Grant’s troops withdraw heading toward Spotsylvania Courthouse, not north, resulting in a morale-boost to Union soldiers. Over 162,000 combined forces were engaged resulting in nearly 30,000 casualties.

May 6 – Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign begins with engagement at Rocky Face Ridge (May 7-13) in Georgia. At the beginning of the Atlanta 1864 Campaign Sherman’s Federalss outnumber the Johnston rebels nearly 2 to 1 (98,000 to 50,000). By June both armies would receive reinforcements bringing the Union numbers to 112,000 and the Southern forces to 65,000 total, at least on paper.
Read letter 1 |

Additional fights will take place at Resaca (May 13-15), Adairsville (May 17), New Hope Church (May 25-26), Dallas (May 26 – June 1), Pickett’s Mills (May 27), Marietta (June 9 – July 3), Kolb’s Farm (June 22), Kennesaw Mountain (June 27), Peachtree Creek (July 20), Atlanta (July 22), Ezra Church (July 28), Dalton II (Aug 14-15), Lovejoy’s Station (Aug 20), and Jonesborough (Aug 31 – Sept 1).

In the end, Sherman was the clear victor, grinding Hood’s army down but not destroying it. Hood replaced Johnston July 17th as leader of the Army of Tennessee. In this extended campaign the Federals would lose some 32,000 men, while the Confederates would lose 35,000 men, a much higher percentage of engaged fighting men. The capture of Atlanta by Sherman was a major morale booster for the North and was an important factor in Lincoln’s re-election in November 1864.

May 11 – Lee loses his star cavalryman, Jeb Stuart, in a clash at Yellow Tavern with Union cavalryman Phil Sheridan.

May 8-21st – The Spotsylvania Courthouse fighting – part of Grant’s Overland Campaign – was an extended fight between the Army of the Potomac, under Grant, and Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Grant would withdraw and again try a flanking maneuver around Lee. Casualties at Spotsylvania are extremely high. Grant would lose 37,000 casualties, and Lee, though losing less, some 22,000 men, takes a big loss since he is unable to replace his troops at the pace the Union army can.

May 16 – Union General Benjamin Butler is defeated at Drewry’s Bluff, and the Federals are whipped at New Market too.

May 31 – A group of radical Republicans meets in Cleveland, Ohio to nominate their own presidential candidate, General John Charles Fremont.

June 1864

June 1-3rd – some of the most horrific fighting in the war occurs at Cold Harbor (VA). Over 7,000 Federals become casualties in about 30 minutes on June 3rd. Over 170,000 combined forces engaged at Cold Harbor; some 108,000 Federals and 62,000 rebels. Union casualties far outweigh Confederate losses. Grant, in his memoirs, says this (June 3rd) is the only assault he ever regrets ordering.

June 8 – Lincoln nominated for President.

June 11/12 – battle at Trevillian Station (VA) becomes bloodiest cavalry battle in the Civil War, between Phil Sheridan’s Union cavalry and Wade Hampton’s Confederate cavalry. Grant is on his way to Petersburg.

June 14 – Gen. Leonidas K. Polk killed at Pine Mountain.

June 14 – Naval battle between CSS Alabama and USS Kearsarge near Cherbourg, France; 33 casualties.

June 18- the ten-month Union seige of Petersburg (VA) begins. Grant is reluctant is to make all-out assaults after his losses at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor; losing 65,000 men in six weeks. Confederate losses are no better in terms of being able to replace his own 35,000 casualties in the same period. Lee finds it harder and harder to keep his war machine functioning with these mounting massive losses.

June 19 – Union General William T. Sherman attacks Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s forces at Kennesaw Mountain (GA), just 30 miles from Atlanta. Sherman accomplishes nothing and results boost southern morale.

June 27 – Sherman’s assault on Kennesaw mountain repulsed by rebels. See May 6th note.

July 1864

July 9 – Battle of Monocacy, saves Washington.

July 17 – Confederate General, and Kentuckian John Bell Hood, replaces Joseph E. Johnstone as commander of the Army of Tennessee.

July 20 – Hood is repulsed at Peachtree Creek, GA. See May 6th note.

July 22 – Hood fails to turn Sherman’s army at Atlanta; General James McPherson is killed. See May 6th note.

July 24 – second battle of Kernstown, VA.

July 28 – Hood’s attack is repulsed at Ezra Church. See May 6th note.

July 30 – Battle of the Crater, Petersburg, VA.

August 1864

August 5 – Admiral Farragut wins battle of Mobile Bay (AL).

August 22 – Nathan Bedford Forrest makes his famous raids on Memphis.

August 29 – George B. McClellan nominated for President.

September 1864

September 1 – battle of Jonesboro concludes; Hood evacuates Atlanta.
Letters 1 |

September 2 – Union General William T. Sherman occupies Atlanta.

September 19 – battle of Winchester III

September 22 – battle of Fisher’s Hill

September 28 – John Bell Hood moves to strike at Sherman’s supply line.

October 1864

October 18 – Hood crosses into Alabama.

October 19 – Battle of Cedar Creek in the Shenandoah Valley.

October 19 – Confederate raiders, based in Canada, steal $200,000 from banks in the Vermont town of St. Albans.

October 30 – Sherman sends General John M. Schofield to support Middle Tennessee and to take on Hood.

November 1864

November 8 – Abraham Lincoln is re-elected with 55% of the popular vote.

November 15 – Sherman burns Atlanta and begins March to the Sea.

November 19 – Hood begins push toward Middle Tennessee in attempt to beat Schofield to Nashville where Schofield can combine forces with Thomas to strengthen Union control of Nashville.

November 29 – Union forces under Schofield escape during the night from Hood’s Confederate forces at Spring Hill, TN. They entrench at Franklin in the early morning hours.

November 30 – Hood makes an open-field two mile assault upon Union forces entrenched in Franklin around the Carter farm. Hood’s Army of Tennessee suffers horrendous casualties, and will be totally defeated in two weeks by Thomas in Nashville. Among several Confederate killed generals is General Patrick R. Cleburne.
Letters 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
Reports 1 | 2 | 3 |

December 1864

December 2 – Hood’s beleagered army heads for Nashville after defeat at Franklin.

December 15-16th – General George H. Thomas routs Hood’s army at Nashville. The Army of Tennessee is defeated.

December 21 – William T. Sherman occupies Savannah but does not burn it. Sherman will soon head to Columbia, which he will burn.

January 1865

January 15 – John Bell Hood is replaced as commander of Army of Tennessee.

January 15 – battles for Fort Fisher in North Carolin.

January 31 – 13th Amendment to U.S. Constitution passes abolishing slavery.

February 1865

February 1 – Sherman begins Carolinas Campaign.

February 3 – February 3 – Lincoln meets with Confederate Peace Commission at Hampton Roads, Virginia.

February 6 – Robert E. Lee is named commander in chief of all Confederate armies by Confederate Congress.

February 17 – Columbia, South Carolina, falls to Sherman.

February 18 – Charleston seized by Union troops.

February 22 – Joseph E. Johnston re-called to command forces against Sherman.

March 1865

March 2 – battle of Waynesboro.

March 3 – Union Congress creates the Freedmen’s Bureau.

March 4 – Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

March 13 – Desperate now, Confederate Congress approves using black troops in combat.

March 19-21 – Sherman repulses Johnston’s attack at Bentonville, North Carolina.

March 24 – Sherman occupies Goldsboro, North Carolina, ending Carolinas Campaign.

March 25 to April 2 – The Battle of Petersburg in Virginia.

March 28 – Lincoln, Sherman, Grant and Porter meet to confer on peace terms to end the long war.

March 29-31st – final Virginia Campaign begins with fighting around Dinwiddie Courthouse.

April 1865

April 2 – Confederate Government evacuates Richmond; Davis flees in a woman’s dress.

April 3 – Richmond, capital of the Confederacy falls.

April 8 – Sherman resumes march on Johnston

April 9 – Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.
Letters 1 |

April 12 – Confederate forces make official surrender of arms at Appomattox.

April 13 – Raleigh falls to Sherman’

April 14 – Lincoln assasinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.

April 18 – Johnston and Sherman negotiate similar terms to Lee-Grant.

April 26 – Johnston accepts same term Grant gave Lee.

May 1865

May 10 – Jefferson Davis is captured at Irwinsville, GA.

May 13 – final skirmish at Palmito Ranch, Texas; a Confederate victory no less.

May 23-24th – Grand Review at Washington, D.C.

May 26 – Edmund Kirby Smith surrenders remaining Confederate forces West of the Mississippi.

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The Civil War Gazette Civil War Timeline is a linear, chronological look at the important events related to the American Civil War, fought between April 1861 and April 1865. The timeline includes major battles and skirmishes, significant political events impacting the war, deaths of major military figures, as well as details of important battles including casualty numbers.