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This Day in the Civil War

A faded sketch of a conflict on the battlefield

Explore our timeline of the American Civil War and learn about the important events and battles that happened throughout this period of American history – from John Brown's Raid to the adoption of the 13th Amendment.

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1854

1859

1860

November 1860

December 1860

1861

January 1861

  • January 2 - South Carolina troops seize Fort Johnson in Charleston Harbor
  • January 3 - Georgia state troops seize Fort Pulaski
  • January 4 - Alabama state troops seize the U.S. Arsenal at Mount Vernon, Alabama
  • January 5 - U.S. Senators from seven Southern states meet in Washington, D.C. to discuss secession
  • January 6 - The state of Florida seizes the Apalachicola Arsenal
  • January 7 - Mississippi and Alabama State Conventions meet to discuss secession
  • January 8 - Jacob Thompson of Mississippi - the Secretary of the Interior and last Southern member of President James Buchanan's Cabinet - resigns
  • January 9 - Mississippi secedes from the Union
  • January 9 -  The Star of the West fails to relieve Fort Sumter
  • January 10 - Florida adopts an Ordinance of Secession
  • January 11 - Alabama adopts an Ordinance of Secession
  • January 14 - Federal troops occupy Fort Taylor at Key West in order to prevent its seizure by secessionist forces
  • January 16 - Crittenden Compromise dies in the U.S. Senate
  • January 19 - Georgia adopts an Ordinance of Secession
  • January 20 - Mississippi state troops seize Ship Island in the Gulf of Mississippi
  • January 24 - Georgia state troops seize the U.S. Arsenal at Augusta
  • January 26 - Louisiana adopts an Ordinance of Secession

February 1861

  • February 1 - Texas adopts an Ordinance of Secession and schedules a referendum for February 23
  • February 4 - Delegates from the seceded states meet to establish the Confederate government
  • February 8 - The convention of seceded states adopts a provisional constitution
  • February 9 - Jefferson Davis elected provisional Confederate President
  • February 15 - The Provisional Confederate Congress establishes a Peace Commission to prevent war with the United States
  • February 16 - Texas state troops seize the U.S. Arsenal at San Antonio
  • February 18 - Jefferson Davis inaugurated as provisional president of the Confederacy
  • February 19 - Louisiana state troops seize the U.S. paymaster's office in New Orleans
  • February 23 - President-elect Lincoln arrives in Washington, D.C.
  • February 23 -  Voters in Texas approve referendum to secede

March 1861

  • March 2 - After forcing the resignation of Governor Sam Houston, Texas formally joins the Confederacy. 
  • March 4 - Abraham Lincoln becomes the 16th President of the United States of America
  • March 15 - Lincoln meets with his Cabinet to discuss whether or not to resupply Fort Sumter

April 1861

  • April 11 - The Confederates demand the surrender of Fort Sumter
  • April 12 - The Confederates in Charleston bombard Fort Sumter
  • April 13 - Fort Sumter surrenders to Confederate forces
  • April 17 - Virginia adopts an Ordinance of Secession and schedules a referendum for May 23
  • April 18/19 - Federal troops burn the U.S. Arsenal at Harpers Ferry to prevent it from falling into the hands of secessionists. The Confederates are nonetheless able to seize valuable military supplies when they occupy Harpers Ferry
  • April 19 - Pratt Street Riot in Baltimore, Maryland
  • April 19 - President Lincoln declares a blockade of Southern ports
  • April 20/21 - Federal forces attempt to destroy the Gosport Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia by setting it ablaze. Secessionists put out the fires and salvage a large portion of the facility
  • April 21 - The slave ship Nightingale is captured by the USS Saratoga
  • April 22 - Robert E. Lee accepts command of Virginia forces
  • April 23 - United State Army Officers in San Antonio, Texas are seized as prisoners of war
  • April 30 - New York Yacht Club offers its vessels to the Federal government

May 1861

  • May 3 - Lincoln calls for volunteers to join the Union Army for a three-year term
  • May 6 - Arkansas and Tennessee adopt Ordinances of Secession. Tennessee schedules a referendum for June 8
  • May 13 - U.S. troops occupy Baltimore, Maryland
  • May 20 - North Carolina adopts an Ordinance of Secession
  • May 20 -  Kentucky declares its neutrality
  • May 21 - The Confederate Congress agrees to move the Confederate capital from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia
  • May 23 - Virginia voters ratify the State Convention's decision to secede
  • May 24 - Federal troops seize Alexandria, Virginia
  • May 24 - Zouave leader Elmer Ellsworth killed in Alexandria by James W. Jackson

June 1861

  • June 1 - Skirmish at Fairfax Court House, Virginia
  • June 2 - P.G.T. Beauregard takes command of Confederate forces in northern Virginia
  • June 8 - Tennessee voters approve referendum to secede
  • June 10 - Engagement at Big Bethel, Virginia
  • June 16 - Thaddeus Lowe demonstrates the potential of hot air balloons to the government in Washington, D.C.
  • June 17 - Engagement at Boonville Missouri
  • June 17 - Action at Vienna, Virginia

July 1861

August 1861

September 1861

  • September 3 - Confederate troops enter Kentucky, ending the state's neutral status
  • September 5 - Skirmish at Papinsville, Missouri
  • September 6 - Federal forces seize Paducah, Kentucky
  • September 10 - Engagement at Carinfex Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia)
  • September 12 - Siege of Lexington, Missouri begins
  • September 12 to 15 - Battle of Cheat Mountain, Virginia (now West Virginia)
  • September 20 - Union garrison surrenders Lexington, Missouri
  • September 26 - Skirmish near Fort Thorn, New Mexico Territory

October 1861

November 1861

December 1861

  • December 8 - CSS Sumter seizes Northern merchant ship Eben Dodge in the mid-Atlantic
  • December 9 - The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War is established by Congress
  • December 9 - Engagement at Chusto-Talasah (Bird Creek), Indian Territory (now Oklahoma)
  • December 11 - Disastrous fire in Charleston, South Carolina
  • December 23 - Skirmish at Dayton, Missouri
  • December 26 - Engagement between Confederate forces and Unionist Native Americans at Chustenahlah, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma)
  • December 26 - United States releases Mason and Slidell, ending the Trent Affair
  • December 27 - Skirmish near Hallsville, Missouri
  • December 30 - Banks in New York suspend specie payments

1862

January 1862

February 1862

March 1862

April 1862

  • April 4 - Federal ironclad gunboat runs the batteries at Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River
  • April 5 - Siege of Yorktown, Virginia begins
  • April 6/7 - Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing), Tennessee begins
  • April 8 - Battle of Fallen Timbers
  • April 8 - Island No. 10 falls to Union forces under Major General John Pope
  • April 10 - Congresses passes Lincoln's suggested resolution offering financial aid to those states willing to begin the gradual abolition of slavery
  • April 10 - Battle of Fort Pulaski begins
  • April 11 - Surrender of Fort Pulaski, Georgia
  • April 16 - Slavery abolished in the District of Columbia
  • April 18 - Bombardment begins at Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip, 70 miles below New Orleans, Louisiana
  • April 24 - Federal fleet passes forts below New Orleans, Louisiana
  • April 25/26 - Bombardment and surrender of Fort Macon, North Carolina
  • April 29 - Union "army group" advances on Corinth, Mississippi

May 1862

  • May 5 - Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia
  • May 7 - Engagement at West Point (Eltham's Landing), Virginia
  • May 8 - Battle of McDowell, Virginia
  • May 9 - Bombardment of Pensacola, Florida
  • May 10 - Naval engagement at Plum Run Bend, Arkansas
  • May 10 - Union forces capture Norfolk, Virginia
  • May 11 - Confederate sailors blow up the CSS Virginia to keep her from falling into Union hands
  • May 15 - Battle of Drewry's Bluff, Virginia
  • May 20 - Lincoln signs the Homestead Act
  • May 23 - Engagement at Front Royal, Virginia
  • May 25 - Battle of First Winchester, Virginia
  • May 26 - Skirmish at Calico Rock, Arkansas
  • May 29/30 - Confederates evacuate Corinth, Mississippi
  • May 31 - Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), Virginia begins

June 1862

July 1862

August 1862

September 1862

October 1862

  • October 1 - Skirmish near Sharpsburg, Maryland
  • October 3 - Battle of Corinth, Mississippi
  • October 8 - Battle of Perryville (Chaplin Hills), Kentucky
  • October 10 - Fighting at Harrodsburg and Danville Cross Roads, Kentucky
  • October 10 - Jefferson Davis asks Virginia to draft 4,500 blacks to complete fortifications at Richmond
  • October 11 - Skirmish near Helena, Arkansas
  • October 15 - Skirmish at Neely's Bend on the Cumberland River in Tennessee
  • October 18 - Garrison captured at Lexington, Kentucky in Morgan's Raid
  • October 22 - Skirmish at Fort Wayne, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma)
  • October 24 - Union Major General William Rosecrans replaces Major General Don Carlos Buell as commander of the Army of the Ohio
  • October 29 - Skirmish at Island Mound, Missouri, the first time in the Civil War that African American soldiers fight as part an organized unit

November 1862

December 1862

1863

January 1863

February 1863

March 1863

  • March 3 - Abraham Lincoln signs the Conscription Act, creating the first national military draft in American history
  • March 11 - Confederates at Fort Pemberton block Union attempt to bypass Vicksburg's defenses
  • March 14 - USS Mississippi runs aground near Port Hudson. The ship's crew scuttles the vessel in order to keep it from falling into Confederate hands
  • March 17 - Engagement at Kelly's Ford, Virginia
  • March 24/25 - Union amphibious expedition skirmishes with Confederates, Steele's Bayou, Mississippi
  • March 26 - West Virginia votes for gradual emancipation in the state
  • March 27 - Skirmish at Palatka, Florida

April 1863

  • April 7 - Naval attack on Charleston, South Carolina
  • April 11 - Siege of Suffolk, Virginia by Confederates begins
  • April 17 - Union Colonel Benjamin Grierson's Raid from La Grange, Tennessee to Baton Rouge, Louisiana begins
  • April 21 - Generals Jones and Imboden begin Confederate raid on the B&O Railroad,Virginia (now West Virginia)
  • April 24 - Confederate government passes a tax in-kind on one-tenth of all produce
  • April 30 - Battle of Chancellorsville begins near Fredericksburg, Virginia

May 1863

June 1863

July 1863

August 1863

  • August 1 - Federal cavalry advance from Witteburg on campaign to capture Little Rock, Arkansas
  • August 8 - Robert E. Lee offers to resign as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia
  • August 17 - Federals begin bombardment of Fort Sumter as siege of Fort Wagner continues
  • August 26 -  Engagement at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
  • August 27 - Skirmish at Bayou Meto (Reed's Bridge), Arkansas

September 1863

  • September 5 - Laird Rams detained at Liverpool
  • September 6 - Confederates evacuate Fort Wagner and Morris Island, South Carolina
  • September 8 - Confederates repulse attack at Sabine Pass (Fort Griffin), Texas
  • September 9 - Federal army enters Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • September 10 - Little Rock, Arkansas captured by Union forces
  • September 15 - Lincoln suspends writ of habeas corpus
  • September 18 - Confederates force their way across Chickamauga Creek
  • September 18 - Skirmish at Bristol in east Tennessee
  • September 19 - Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia
  • September 20 - Day two of the Battle of Chickamauga, Union troops retreat to Chattanooga, Tennessee

October 1863

November 1863

December 1863

  • December 1 - Mine Run Campaign concludes in Virginia 
  • December 3 - Siege of Knoxville, Tennessee concludes
  • December 8 - Lincoln issues Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction
  • December 14 - Engagement at Bean's Station, Tennessee
  • December 16 - Skirmish at Salem, Virginia
  • December 21 - Skirmish at Hunter's Mill, Virginia
  • December 23 - Fight at Culpepper Court House, Virginia

1864

January 1864

  • January 11 - Rosser's Raid in West Virginia
  • January 18 - Skirmish at Grand Gulf, Mississippi
  • January 23 - Skirmish near Newport, Tennessee
  • January 27 - Engagement at Fair Gardens (Kelly's Ford), Tennessee
  • January 28 - Operations around New Bern, North Carolina
  • January 29 - Cavalry skirmish at Medley, West Virginia

February 1864

March 1864

  • March 1 - Federal cavalry raid by Judson Kilpatrick and Ulric Dahlgren on Richmond, Virginia
  • March 5 - Confederate government orders all vessels to give half freight capacity to government shipments
  • March 9 - U.S. Grant promoted to Lieutenant General
  • March 12 - Red River Expedition begins in Louisiana
  • March 20 - Confederate raider CSS Alabama arrives at Cape Town, South Africa
  • March 21 - Nevada and Colorado territories admitted into the Union
  • March 22 - Fighting at Bald Spring Canon on Eel River, California
  • March 25 - Attack on Paducah, Kentucky by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest

April 1864

  • April 8 - Battle of Mansfield (Sabine Crossroads), Louisiana (Red River Expedition)
  • April 9 - Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana (Red River Expedition)
  • April 12 - Capture of Fort Pillow, Tennessee by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • April 20 - Plymouth, North Carolina captured
  • April 22 - The motto "In God We Trust" first stamped on U.S. coins
  • April 23 - Engagement of Cane River Crossing, Louisiana (Red River Expedition)
  • April 25 - Action at Mark's Mills, Arkansas on Steele's Camden Expedition
  • April 26 - Union fleet trapped by low water on the Red River near Alexandria, Louisiana
  • April 28 - Skirmishes at Princeton, Arkansas on Steele's Camden Expedition
  • April 30 - Engagement at Jenkins' Ferry, Arkansas on Steele's Camden Expedition

May 1864

June 1864

July 1864

August 1864

September 1864

October 1864

November 1864

December 1864

  • December 1 - Union General John Schofield's army evacuates Franklin and retreats to Nashville
  • December 4 - Engagement at Waynesborough, Georgia
  • December 6 - Salmon P. Chase named Chief Justice of the United States
  • December 10 - Federal Army arrives in front of Savannah, Georgia
  • December 13 - Storming of Fort McAlister, Georgia
  • December 15 - Battle of Nashville, Tennessee begins
  • December 17 - Action near Franklin, Tennessee
  • December 19 - Skirmish at Rutherford Creek, Tennessee
  • December 20 - Confederates evacuate Savannah, Georgia
  • December 24 - First attack on Fort Fisher, North Carolina
  • December 25 - Federals abandon first attack on Fort Fisher, North Carolina
  • December 28 - Engagement at Egypt, Missouri

1865

January 1865

  • January 12 - Francis Preston Blair Sr. attempts to negotiate peace with Jefferson Davis
  • January 13 - Second attack on Fort Fisher, North Carolina begins
  • January 15 - Fort Fisher stormed
  • January 23 - Joseph E. Johnston opposes Sherman's march through the Carolinas
  • January 31 - U.S. House passes 13th Amendment abolishing slavery

February 1865

March 1865

April 1865

May 1865

  • May 2 - A $100,000 reward offered for the arrest of Jefferson Davis
  • May 4 - Surrender of Confederate General Richard Taylor's forces at Citronelle, Alabama
  • May 10 - Confederate President Jefferson Davis captured by U.S. troops at Irwinville, Georgia
  • May 12 - Skirmish at Palmito Ranch, Texas - the last engagement of the Civil War
  • May 23 to 24 - Grand Review of Union armies in Washington, D.C.
  • May 26 - Surrender of Confederate General E.K. Smith's Trans-Mississippi forces, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • May 29 - President Andrew Johnson proclaims amnesty for most ex-Confederates

June 1865

  • June 23 - General Stand Watie surrenders Confederate forces in the Indian Territory (OK)
  • June 30 - Eight Lincoln-assassination conspirators convicted in Washington, D.C.

July 1865

  • July 7 - Conspirators in the assassination of Lincoln are executed

November 1865

December 1865

  • December 6 - Georgia becomes the 27th state to ratify the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in the United States.
  • December 18 - Secretary of State William Seward announced to the world that the 13th Amendment has been ratified.
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