American Civil War Timeline – Important Dates

Civil War – The Build Up

6 November 1860:

Abraham Lincoln is elected as the sixteenth President of the United States of America. 

17 December 1860:

First Secession Convention meet held in Columbia, South Carolina. 

20 December 1860:

South Carolina secedes from the Union.

January 1861:

Six other southern states secede from the Union. 

9 February 1861:

Seven states form a government at Montgomery, Alabama. It is on this day the Confederate States of America was formed. 

18 February 1861:

Jefferson Davis is appointed as the President of the Confederate States of America at Alabama’s Montgomery. 

Civil War Formally Begins

12 April 1861:

Civil War begins formally. Attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina by southern forces. 

15 April 1861:

Abraham Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers to join the Union army. After this, four more southern states secede from the Union. In the coming weeks, Lincoln calls for another 43,000+ volunteers to join the army for three years. 

24 May 1861:

Union forces occupy Arlington Heights. 

10 June 1861:

Battle of Big Bethel.

20 June 1861:

Northwestern counties of Virginia broke from the state and joined the Union as the thirty fifth state. 

21 July 1861:

Battle of Bull Run near Manassas, Virginia. Lincoln orders General McDowell to attack on Confederate troops. He was successful at first but at the end Confederates won. Lincoln replaced McDowell with General McCellan. 

10 August 1861:

Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missouri. Confederates win the battle. 

29 August 1861:

Union takes over Fort Hatteras located in North Carolina. 

20 September 1861:

Confederates annexe Lexington, Missouri. 

21 October 1861:

Battle of Ball’s Bluff in Virginia. Confederates emerged victorious. 

Civil War – Many Battles

19 January 1862:

Battle of Mill Springs in Kentucky. The Union won this battle. 

6 February 1862:

Confederates surrendered Fort Henry in Tennessee to the Union. 

8 February 1862:

Battle of Roanoke Island in North Carolina. The Union won over the Confederates. 

16 February 1862:

Confederates surrendered Fort Donelson in Tennessee. Union General Ulysses S. Grant earned the nickname ‘Unconditional Surrender’ here. 

22 February 1862:

Jefferson Davis selected as the President of the Confederate States of America. 

8 March 1862:

The Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas. The Union emerged victorious. 

9 March 1862:

Naval battle between CSS Virginia and USS Monitor in Hampton Roads, Virginia. 

7 April 1862:

Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. The Union won over the Confederates. General Albert Sidney Johnston, Confederates General who is hailed as one of the finest generals died on the very first day. 

25 April 1862:

Forts guarding the mouth of the Mississippi River come under the control of the Union. 

25 May 1862:

First Battle of Winchester in Virginia. Confederates General Stonewall Jackson drives the Union forces away. 

1 June 1862:

Battle of Seven Pines in Virginia. 

6 June 1862:

Battle of Memphis in Tennessee. Union wins over Confederates. 

1 July 1862:

The Seven Days’ Battle 

31 August 1862:

Battle of Second Bull Run. The Confederates win over the Union army. 

17 September 1862:

Battle of Antietam or the Battle of Sharpsburg in Maryland. The Union won over the Confederates. 

13 December 1862:

Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia. 

31 December 1862:

Battle of Stones River in Tennessee. The Union wins the battle over the Confederates.

Civil War – Emancipation Proclamation

1 January 1863:

Lincoln introduced the Emancipation Proclamation. It was an executive order that laid the groundwork for the Thirteenth Amendment.

April 1863:

The Union begins campaign in both the east and the west parts of the USA. 

4 May 1863:

Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. 

18 May 1863:

Siege of Vicksburg in Mississippi starts.

9 June 1863:

Battle of Brandy Station in Virginia. It is also the largest cavalry battle of the Civil War. The Gettysburg campaign starts.  

15 June 1863:

Battle of Second Winchester in Virginia. The Confederates defeated the Union. 

Battle of Gettysburg – Turning Point

3 July 1863:

Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. It is the bloodiest battle in the Civil War.

4 July 1863:

Mississippi’s Vicksburg surrenders to the Union army. 

July to August 1863:

Riots, assaults, and attacks from both sides continue. 

20 September 1863:

Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia. The Confederates won over the Union. 

September to November 1863:

Siege of Chattanooga in Tennessee. 

25 November 1863:

Battle of Chattanooga. The Union won over the Confederates. 

November to December 1863:

Mine Run Campaign, Siege of Knoxville in Tennessee. Lincoln issues Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. This proclamation would pardon the Confederates if they took the oath to the Union.

17 February 1864:

First successful submarine attack in the Civil War. 

27 February 1864:

Andersonville Prison Camp or Camp Sumter Prison Camp starts. 

10 March 1864:

The Red River Campaign starts. 

9 April 1864:

Battle of Pleasant Hill in Louisiana. The Union won the Confederates. 

12 April 1864:

The Confederates captured Fort Pillow in Tennessee. 

5 May 1864:

Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia. 

8-21 May 1864:

Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia. Battle of Resaca in Georgia. 

3 June 1864:

Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia. Even after repeated attacks of the Union, the Confederates stay strong and defend their ground. 

Civil War Lincoln Re-nominated

8 June 1864:

Abraham Lincoln is nominated as the President for the second time by his party. 

10 June 1864:

Battle of Brice’s Crossroads in Mississippi. The Confederates won over the Union army. 

19 June 1864:

The USS Kearsarge sinks the CSS Alabama near France’s Cherbourg. 

27 June 1864:

Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia

9 July 1864:

Battle of Monocacy in Maryland. 

15 July 1864:

Battles near Mississippi’s Tupelo. The Union army wins over the Confederates army. 

21 July 1864:

The Battle of Atlanta. 

30 July 1864:

The Battle of the Crater at Virginia’s Petersburg. 

19 August 1864:

Battles on the Weldon Railroad in Virginia’s Petersburg. 

1 September 1864:

Fall of Atlanta. 

19 September 1864:

Third Battle of Winchester in Virginia. 

30 September 1864:

Battle of Fort Harrison in Virginia. Confederates lost Fort Harrison to the Union forces. 

19 October 1864:

The Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia. 

Lincoln’s 2nd Presidency and Assassination

8 November 1864:

Abraham Lincoln is reelected as the President of the United States of America. 

30 November 1864:

Battle of Franklin in Tennessee. The Union army defeated the Confederates comfortably. 

15 December 1864:

The Battle of Nashville in Tennessee. The Confederates were defeated thoroughly by the Union army. 

15 January 1865:

The Union army won and captured Fort Fisher in North Carolina. 

22 February 1865: North Carolina’s Wilmington falls to the Union army. 

4 March 1865:

Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the President of the United States of America for the second time. 

25 March 1865:

Attack on Fort Stedman in Virginia’s Petersburg. 

1 April 1865:

The Battle of Five Forks in Virginia. The Union army defeated the Confederates. 

3 April 1865:

The Union army occupied Petersburg and Richmond in Virginia. 

14 April 1865:

Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.

End of Civil War

26 April 1865:

The Confederates General Joseph Johnston signs the surrender document of Tennessee.

10 May 1865:

The Union army captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Georgia’s Irwinville. 

12 May 1865:

The last battle of the Civil War took place in Texas’ Palmito Ranch. The Confederates won over the Union. 

26 May 1865:

The Confederate army agrees to surrender on 2 June 1865. Civil War ended on this day officially.

Sources: National Park Service

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