Timeline of American Civil War – some important dates and events

It has been 150 years since the end of America’s deadliest conflict, the American Civil War, in which an estimated 750,000 Americans died fighting each other. The conflict lasted four bloody years, and just days after it ended, America’s most celebrated president, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated. The Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, surrendered to the Union General, Ulysses S. Grant, on 9th April 1865, which officially ended the war.

Talking about the ‘Civil War’, Abraham Lincoln once called this a sign that the nation of America was beginning a new life. When an argument about slavery became a national dispute, various states decided to rebel against the Union, launching a deadly civil war. The following are some of the important events that took place during the war.

Lincoln gets elected (6th Nov 1860)

An ambitious leader, Abraham Lincoln was elected to lead the nation. Lincoln was one of the most respected members of the Republican Party, which opposed slavery and was very famous in North.

Secession of South Carolina (20th Dec 1860)

South Carolina announced its secession from the Union, by issuing the ‘Ordinance of Secession’. One of the main reasons behind South Carolina’s secession was Lincoln’s opposition to slavery.

Formation of Confederate States (9th Jan – 9th Feb 1861)

In a matter of a couple of months, a number of other states decided to follow the footsteps of South Carolina, by also announcing their secession from the Union. Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi formed the confederate states. Former Senator Jefferson Davis was appointed as the President of the newly formed Confederate States.

Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln (4th Mar 1861)

Amid all the chaos and uncertainty, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the President of the Union.

Civil War starts (12th Apr 1861)

The war officially started with the shots fired by Confederate troops at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.

Abraham calls for military action against rebels (15th Apr 1861)

In a special session of Congress, Lincoln asked for 75,000 people to help defeat the rebels. A couple of  weeks later, in May, Lincoln called for another 43000 soldiers, to help win the war.

More States secede (17th Apr to 20th May 1816)

The states of Arkansas, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina announced their allegiance to the Confederation.

First clash ends in Confederates winning the battle (21st Jul 1861)

The first fierce clash between the Union troops and the Confederate army took place in Virginia, near Manassas. The battle is known in history as the ‘Battle of Bull Run’. To everyone’s astonishment, the Confederate army won the contest. Soon after this defeat, Lincoln made a famous comment about the war; he said, ‘It’s bad. It’s damned bad.’

Battle of Hattera Inlet Batteries (28th–29th Aug 1861)

The first victory for the Union came in the Battle of Hattera Inlet Batteries. With this win, the Union started closing down the southern ports along the East Coast.

Capture of Fort Henry in Tennessee (16th Feb 1862)

With a show of great battlefield skills, Grant helped capture Fort Henry, Tennessee. The Confederate general surrendered after fierce bombing by the Union army, the International Business Times reports.

Jefferson Davis is inaugurated (22nd Feb 1862)

Former Senator Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as the President of the Confederate States in February 1862.

Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee (6th–7th Apr 1862)

The second significant victory for the Union Army came in the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee, further weakening the Confederate hold on Tennessee.

Lee takes over the Command of Confederates (31st May 1862)

After General Johnston got severely wounded in a battle, the command of the Confederate army was given to Robert E. Lee.

Battle of Bull Run (30th–31st Aug 1862)

Second battle of Bull Run brings victory for the Confederates, pushing the Union back to Washington, DC.

Battle of Antietam, Maryland (17th Sep 1862)

More than 22,000 people died in the Battle of Antietam in Maryland, making this the bloodiest day in America’s military history.

Emancipation Proclamation by Lincoln (22nd Sep 1862)

The President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, in order to abolish slavery from America.

Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia (13th Dec 1862)

The Union faced another defeat in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (1st–3rd Jul 1863)

The Union restored its morale by defeating the Confederates in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Union takes over of Mississippi River (4th Jul 1863)

Taking control over the Mississippi River, thereby dividing the Confederacy into two parts, strengthened the Union’s grip over the matters of the war.

Battle of Chattanooga, Tennessee (28th Nov 1863)

The Union’s control over the war grew stronger when the Confederate army suffered another defeat in the Battle of Chattanooga in Tennessee.

Lincoln repeals the Fugitive Slave Laws (28th Jun 1864)

Abraham Lincoln repealed the Fugitive Slave Laws, to the relief of scores of slaves living in the country.

Lincoln is re-elected (8th Nov 1864)

Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as the President of the Union.

Congress approves 13th Amendment (13th Jan 1865)

Slavery was officially abolished after the approval of the 13th Amendment to the USA Constitution.

Closure of Wilmington Port (22nd Feb 1865)

Wilmington Port in the South was shut down on the Union’s orders.

Inauguration of Lincoln (4th Mar 1865)

Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated again as the President of the Union.

Confederate capital city is captured by Union (3rd Apr 1865)

The capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, was captured by the Union troops.

Lee surrenders, end of the Civil War (9th Apr 1865)

Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army, effectively ending the American Civil War.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE