April 14 2013

Civil War Chronology of Events

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Chronology of Events

Underline type= Union victory. Bold type= Confederate victory.
Italic type= non-confrontational event or non-decisive battle.

The War Begins

1861

January The South Secedes
When Abraham Lincoln, a known opponent of slavery, was elected president, the South Carolina legislature perceived a threat. Calling a state convention, the delegates voted to remove the state of South Carolina from the union known as the United States of America. The secession of South Carolina was followed by the secession of six more states — Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas — and the threat of secession by four more — Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. These eleven states eventually formed the Confederate States of America.
February The South Creates a Government
At a convention in Montgomery, Alabama, the seven seceding states created the Confederate Constitution, a document similar to the United States Constitution, but with greater stress on the autonomy of each state. Jefferson Davis was named provisional president of the Confederacy until elections could be held.
February The South Seizes Federal Forts
When President Buchanan — Lincoln’s predecessor — refused to surrender southern federal forts to the seceding states, southern state troops seized them. At Fort Sumter, South Carolina troops repulsed a supply ship trying to reach federal forces based in the fort. The ship was forced to return to New York, its supplies undelivered.
April Attack on Fort Sumter
When President Lincoln planned to send supplies to Fort Sumter, he alerted the state in advance, in an attempt to avoid hostilities. South Carolina, however, feared a trick; the commander of the fort, Robert Anderson, was asked to surrender immediately. Anderson offered to surrender, but only after he had exhausted his supplies. His offer was rejected, and on April 12, the Civil War began with shots fired on the fort. Fort Sumter eventually was surrendered to South Carolina.
July First Battle of Bull Run
Public demand pushed General-in-Chief Winfield Scott to advance on the South before adequately training his untried troops. Scott ordered General Irvin McDowell to advance on Confederate troops stationed at Manassas Junction, Virginia. McDowell attacked on July 21, and was initially successful, but the introduction of Confederate reinforcements resulted in a Southern victory and a chaotic retreat toward Washington by federal troops.
July A Blockade of the South
To blockade the coast of the Confederacy effectively, the federal navy had to be improved. By July, the effort at improvement had made a difference and an effective blockade had begun. The South responded by building small, fast ships that could outmaneuver Union vessels.
November Port Royal, South Carolina
On November 7, 1861, Captain Samuel F. Dupont’s warships silenced Confederate guns in Fort Walker and Fort Beauregard. This victory enabled General Thomas W. Sherman’s troops to occupy first Port Royal and then all the famous Sea Islands of South Carolina, where Timothy H. O’Sullivan recorded them making themselves at home.

1862

January Lincoln takes Action
On January 27, President Lincoln issued a war order authorizing the Union to launch a unified aggressive action against the Confederacy. General McClellan ignored the order.
March Battle of the “Monitor” and the “Merrimac”
In an attempt to reduce the North’s great naval advantage, Confederate engineers converted a scuttled Union frigate, the U.S.S. Merrimac, into an iron-sided vessel rechristened the C.S.S. Virginia. On March 9, in the first naval engagement between ironclad ships, the Monitor fought the Virginia to a draw, but not before the Virginia had sunk two wooden Union warships off Norfolk, Virginia.
April Battle of Shiloh
On April 6, Confederate forces attacked Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant at Shiloh, Tennessee. By the end of the day, the federal troops were almost defeated. Yet, during the night, reinforcements arrived, and by the next morning the Union commanded the field. When Confederate forces retreated, the exhausted federal forces did not follow.
April Fort Pulaski
General Quincy A. Gillmore battered Fort Pulaski, the imposing masonry structure near the mouth of the Savannah River, into submission in less than two days
April New Orleans
Flag Officer David Farragut led an assault up the Mississippi River. By April 25, he was in command of New Orleans.
May to August The Peninsular Campaign.
In April, General McClellan’s troops left northern Virginia to begin the Peninsular Campaign. By May 4, they occupied Yorktown, Virginia. At Williamsburg, Confederate forces prevented McClellan from meeting the main part of the Confederate army, and McClellan halted his troops, awaiting reinforcements.
May “Stonewall” Jackson Defeats Union Forces.
Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, commanding forces in the Shenandoah Valley, attacked Union forces in late March, forcing them to retreat across the Potomac. As a result, Union troops were rushed to protect Washington, D.C.
May 31 The Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks)
On May 31, the Confederate army attacked federal forces at Seven Pines, almost defeating them; last-minute reinforcements saved the Union from a serious defeat. Confederate commander Joseph E. Johnston was severely wounded, and command of the Army of Northern Virginia fell to Robert E. Lee
July The Seven Days Battles
Between June 26 and July 2, Union and Confederate forces fought a series of battles: Mechanicsville (June 26-27), Gaines’s Mill (June 27), Savage’s Station (June 29), Frayser’s Farm (June 30), and Malvern Hill (July 1). On July 2, the Confederates withdrew to Richmond, ending the Peninsular Campaign.
August The Second Battle of Bull Run
Union General John Pope suffered defeated at the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 29-30. General Fitz-John Porter was held responsible for the defeat because he had failed to commit his troops to battle quickly enough; he was forced out of the army by 1863.
September Harper’s Ferry
Union General McClellan defeated Confederate General Lee at South Mountain and Crampton’s Gap in September, but did not move quickly enough to save Harper’s Ferry, which fell to Confederate General Jackson on September 15, along with a great number of men and a large body of supplies.
September 17 Antietam
On September 17, Confederate forces under General Lee were caught by General McClellan near Sharpsburg, Maryland. This battle proved to be the bloodiest day of the war; 2,108 Union soldiers were killed and 9,549 wounded — 2,700 Confederates were killed and 9,029 wounded. The battle had no clear winner, but because General Lee withdrew to Virginia, McClellan was considered the victor. The battle convinced the British and French — who were contemplating official recognition of the Confederacy — to reserve action, and gave Lincoln the opportunity to announce his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (September 22), which would free all slaves in areas rebelling against the United States, effective January 1, 1863.
December The Battle of Fredericksburg.
General McClellan’s slow movements, combined with General Lee’s escape, and continued raiding by Confederate cavalry, dismayed many in the North. On November 7, Lincoln replaced McClellan with Major-General Ambrose E. Burnside. Burnside’s forces were defeated in a series of attacks against entrenched Confederate forces at Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Burnside was replaced with General Joseph Hooker.

1863

January Emancipation Proclamation.
In an effort to placate the slave-holding border states, Lincoln resisted the demands of radical Republicans for complete abolition. Lincoln, aware of the public’s growing support of abolition, issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring that all slaves in areas still in rebellion were, in the eyes of the federal government, free.
May The Battle of Chancellorsville.
On April 27, Union General Hooker crossed the Rappahannock River to attack General Lee’s forces. Lee split his army, attacking a surprised Union army in three places and almost completely defeating them. Hooker withdrew across the Rappahannock River, giving the South a victory, but it was the Confederates’ most costly victory in terms of casualties.
May The Vicksburg Campaign.
Union General Grant won several victories around Vicksburg, Mississippi, the fortified city considered essential to the Union’s plans to regain control of the Mississippi River. On May 22, Grant began a siege of the city. After six weeks, Confederate General John Pemberton surrendered, giving up the city and 30,000 men. The capture of Port Hudson, Louisiana, shortly thereafter placed the entire Mississippi River in Union hands. The Confederacy was split in two.
May 9 Brandy Station, VA
U.S.A.- 500 Killed and Wounded C.S.A.- 700 Killed and Wounded
May 11 Middleton, VA
U.S.A.- Casualties Not Reported C.S.A.- 8 Killed, 42 Wounded
May 13 Winchester, VA
U.S.A.-3000 Killed and Wounded 15-C.S.A.- 850 Killed and Wounded
May 14 Martinsburg, VA
U.S.A.- 200 Missing or Captured C.S.A.- 1 Killed, 2 Wounded
May 16 Aldie, VA
U.S.A.- 24 Killed, 41 Wounded 89 Missing or Captured C.S.A.- 0 Killed, 100 Wounded
May 21 Upperville, VA
U.S.A.- 0 Killed, 94 Wounded C.S.A.- 20 Killed, 100 Wounded 60 Missing or Captured
May 25 Battle of Helena, Arkansas
June – July The Gettysburg Campaign
Confederate General Lee decided to take the war to the enemy. On June 13, he defeated Union forces at Winchester, Virginia, and continued north to Pennsylvania. General Hooker, who had been planning to attack Richmond, was instead forced to follow Lee. Hooker, never comfortable with his commander, General Halleck, resigned on June 28, and General George Meade replaced him as commander of the Army of the Potomac.On July 1, a chance encounter between Union and Confederate forces began the Battle of Gettysburg. In the fighting that followed, Meade had greater numbers and better defensive positions. He won the battle, but failed to follow Lee as he retreated back to Virginia. Militarily, the Battle of Gettysburg was the high-water mark of the Confederacy; it is also significant because it ended Confederate hopes of formal recognition by foreign governments
September 19 The Battle of Chickamauga.
On September 19, Union and Confederate forces met on the Tennessee-Georgia border, near Chickamauga Creek. After the battle, Union forces retreated to Chattanooga, and the Confederacy maintained control of the battlefield.
November 23-25 The Battle of Chattanooga.
On November 23-25, Union forces pushed Confederate troops away from Chattanooga. The victory set the stage for General Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.
November – December The Seige of Knoxville
The difficult strategic situation of the federal armies after Chickamauga enabled Bragg to detach a force under Longstreet to drive Burnside out of eastern Tennessee. Burnside sought refuge in Knoxville, which he successfully defended from Confederate assaults. These views, taken after Longstreet’s withdrawal on December 3, include one of Strawberry Plains, on his line of retreat. Here we have part of an army record: Barnard was photographer of the Chief Engineer’s Office, Military Division of the Mississippi, and his views were transmitted with the report of the chief engineer of Burnside’s army, April 11, 1864.

1864

May Grant’s Wilderness Campaign.
General Grant, promoted to commander of the Union armies, planned to engage Lee’s forces in Virginia until they were destroyed. North and South met and fought in an inconclusive three-day battle in the Wilderness. Lee inflicted more casualties on the Union forces than his own army incurred, but unlike Grant, he had no replacements.
May The Battle of Spotsylvania.
General Grant continued to attack Lee. At Spotsylvania Court House, he fought for five days, vowing to fight all summer if necessary.
June The Battle of Cold Harbor.
Grant again attacked Confederate forces at Cold Harbor, losing over 7,000 men in twenty minutes. Although Lee suffered fewer casualties, his army never recovered from Grant’s continual attacks. This was Lee’s last clear victory of the war.
June The Siege of Petersburg.Grant hoped to take Petersburg, below Richmond, and then approach the Confederate capital from the south. The attempt failed, resulting in a ten month siege and the loss of thousands of lives on both sides.

General Benjamin F. Butler’s command was in the vacinity of Petersburg as early as May 11, missing its opportunity to capture this vital railroad center; but the photographs are all from the later days when Butler was holding a fortified line on both sides of the James and extending nothward as far as the Market or River Road running into Richmond.

July Confederate Troops Approach Washington, D.C.
Confederate General Jubal Early led his forces into Maryland to relieve the pressure on Lee’s army. Early got within five miles of Washington, D.C., but on July 13, he was driven back to Virginia.
August General William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.
Union General Sherman departed Chattanooga, and was soon met by Confederate General Joseph Johnston. Skillful strategy enabled Johnston to hold off Sherman’s force — almost twice the size of Johnston’s. However, Johnston’s tactics caused his superiors to replace him with General John Bell Hood, who was soon defeated. Hood surrendered Atlanta, Georgia, on September 1; Sherman occupied the city the next day. The fall of Atlanta greatly boosted Northern morale.
November General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea.
General Sherman continued his march through Georgia to the sea. In the course of the march, he cut himself off from his source of supplies, planning for his troops to live off the land. His men cut a path 300 miles in length and 60 miles wide as they passed through Georgia, destroying factories, bridges, railroads, and public buildings.
November Abraham Lincoln Is Re-Elected.
December 15-16 Hood before Nashville
Continuing his policy of taking the offensive at any cost, General John B. Hood brought his reduced army before the defenses of Nashville, where it was repulsed by General George H. Thomas on December 15-16, in the most complete victory of the war.

1865

January The Fall of the Confederacy.
Transportation problems and successful blockades caused severe shortages of food and supplies in the South. Starving soldiers began to desert Lee’s forces, and although President Jefferson Davis approved the arming of slaves as a means of augmenting the shrinking army, the measure was never put into effect.
February Sherman Marches through North and South Carolina.
Union General Sherman moved from Georgia through South Carolina, destroying almost everything in his path.
April – June Fallen Richmond.
On March 25, General Lee attacked General Grant’s forces near Petersburg, but was defeated — attacking and losing again on April 1. On April 2, Lee evacuated Richmond, the Confederate capital, and headed west to join with other forces.
April 9 Surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.
General Lee’s troops were soon surrounded, and on April 7, Grant called upon Lee to surrender. On April 9, the two commanders met at Appomattox Courthouse, and agreed on the terms of surrender. Lee’s men were sent home on parole — soldiers with their horses, and officers with their side arms. All other equipment was surrendered.
April 14 The Assassination of President Lincoln.
On April 14, as President Lincoln was watching a performance of “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., he was shot by John Wilkes Booth, an actor from Maryland obsessed with avenging the Confederate defeat. Lincoln died the next morning. Booth escaped to Virginia. Eleven days later, cornered in a burning barn, Booth was fatally shot by a Union soldier. Nine other people were involved in the assassination; four were hanged, four imprisoned, and one acquitted.


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Posted April 14, 2013 by Tom Martin in category "Civil War", "Military / War", "Story

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