Civil War Timeline

Important Dates
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April 12th, 1861
The Civil War begins when Confederates fire on the Union held Fort Sumter, in the harbor o Charleston, South Carolina. President Lincoln soon calls for 75,000 volunteers for three month's service in the US army.
July 21st, 1861
First Battle of Bull Run, also called First Manassas, in Virginia. Surprised and humiliated by Confederate victory in this first battle of the war, the Union realizes it had better prepare for a longer war than expected.
March 9th, 1862
The Union Monitor and Confederate Merrimack, America's first ironclad ships, fight a key naval battle. Both sides claim victory. The battle begins a new era of warfare doing away with fragile, flammable wooden ships.
April 6-7, 1862
General Ulysses S. Grant wins a hard fought battle at Shiloh, Tennessee.
September 17th, 1862
In Antietam, Maryland, in the bloodiest single day of the war, the dead and wounded top 10,000 on each side.
December 13th, 1862
Despite being greatly outnumbered, General Robert E. Lee's army wins substantial victory at Fredericksburg, Virginia, lifting the rebels' spirits and confidence. The Union loses 12,000 compared to the Confederates' 5,000.
January 1st, 1863
President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation takes effect.
May 1-4, 1863
Confederates, under Generals Lee and Stonewall Jackson, defeat a larger Union army at Chancellorsville, Virginia. After the battle Jackson is accidently shot by one of his own men. He dies of pneumonia a week later.
July 1-3, 1863
In Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, three days of heroic fighting on both sides make for on the most devastating battles of the war. With the loss of a third of the Confederate army's strength, the Union victory marks a turning point in the war. Combined losses total 51,000 killed, wounded, or missing.
July 4, 1863
The Union wins the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, led by General Grant. The Union gains control of the Mississippi River, splitting the Confederacy in two from east to west.
March 10, 1864
Grant is named commander of the Union armies.
May 3, 1864
Grant and the Army of the Potomac enter Virginia to attack Lee and capture Richmond.
September 2, 1864
Union General William T. Sherman occupies Atlanta, Georgia, and sets much of the city on fire.
November 8, 1864
Lincoln is reelected President of the US.
November 15, 1864
Sherman begins his infamous March to the Sea, from Atlanta to Savannah Georgia. He and his men cut a path forty miles wide, again splitting the South in two, this time from north to south. Sherman's army wrecks everything in its way. This 'total war' is a new concept, and its brutality devastates the Confederacy.
February 1, 1865
Sherman's army starts through the Carolinas on a march as destructive as the March to the Sea.
April 3, 1865
Union troops enter Petersburg, Virginia, and the Confederate capital of Richmond.
April 9, 1865
General Lee surrenders to General Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
April 14, 1865
President Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. He dies the next morning.
May 4, 1865
The last Confederate army surrenders.
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