American Civil War Timeline
This is a simplified Civil War timeline listing major battles of the Civil War and other important events that led to the war between the states. I hope you find these Civil War facts useful for understanding how the Battle of Gettysburg fits into U.S. history.
Pre-War in the Civil War Timeline
- 1820 The Missouri Compromise is passed and prohibits slavery in most western territories.
- 1854 The Kansas-Nebraska Act is passed and repeals the Missouri Compromise. It states that settlers decide whether a state should be free or slave.
- 1854, July The Republican Party is founded by antislavery Northerners.
- 1856 Southern sympathizer James Buchanan is elected President of the United States.
- 1857 The Supreme Court rules on the Dred Scott decision and declares that Congress cannot prohibit slavery in the territories.
- 1859 John Brown, a white northerner hoping to start a slave rebellion, attacks the government with a raid at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.
- November 6 Republican Abraham Lincoln is elected as president, causing southern states to call conventions to consider secession from the Union.
- December 20 South Carolina secedes.
- 9 Mississippi secedes.
- 10 Florida secedes.
- 11 Alabama secedes.
- 19 Georgia secedes.
- 26 Louisiana secedes.
- 29 Kansas becomes a Union state.
- 1 Texas secedes.
- 9 Jefferson Davis is elected as the first president of the Confederate States of America.
- 18 Jefferson Davis is inaugurated in Montgomery, Alabama.
- 4 Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated in Washington, D.C. as the 16th president of the United States of America.
- 12-13 The Civil War begins when Confederates attack and capture Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.
- 15 President Lincoln issues a call for Union troops.
- 17 Virginia secedes.
- 19 President Lincoln proclaims a blockade on the South.
- 29 The Maryland State House votes to remain in the Union despite Baltimore riots against Union troops.
- 6 Arkansas secedes.
- 20 North Carolina secedes.
- June 8 Tennessee secedes.
- July 21 Confederates win the first Battle of Bull Run at Manassas, Virginia.
- July-November The Union Navy blockades Southern ports.
- February 25 Nashville, Tennessee is the first Confederate state capital to fall to Union forces.
- March 8-9 The ironclad CSS Virginia attacks the Union blockade at Hampton Roads, Virginia and reaches a draw against the Union ironclad USS Monitor.
- 6-7 Union victory at the Battle of Shiloh in West Tennessee.
- 16 The Confederacy enacts conscription for men ages 20-45.
- 25 New Orleans, Louisiana falls to the Union Navy.
- May 31-June 1 Indecisive Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks) in Virginia. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston is wounded and replaced by General Robert E. Lee.
- June 25-July 1 Confederate victory in Richmond, Virginia in the Battles of the Seven Days.
- August 29-30 Confederate victory at the second Battle of Bull Run, removing all Union troops from Virginia.
- 15 Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson captures Harpers Ferry, Virginia.
- 17 Confederate retreat after the Battle of Antietam, Maryland, the bloodiest day of the war with 23,000 casualties.
- October 8 Union victory at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky.
- 13 Confederate victory at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
- 31 Stalemate Battle of Stones River near Murfeesboro, Tennessee.
- January 1 President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.
- March The Union first enacts conscription, leading to riots in working-class sections of New York City.
- 1-3 General Lee leads Confederate troops to victory in the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia.
- 10 General “Stonewall” Jackson dies in Chancellorsville, Virginia.
- 19 Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi begins.
- June 20 West Virginia admitted to the Union as a state.
- 1-3 Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. To see why it was the high water mark and turning point of the war, take a look at the Gettysburg Civil War Timeline.
- 4 Vicksburg, Mississippi surrenders after a 37 day siege.
- September 19-20 Confederate victory in the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia.
- 19 President Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.
- 23-25 Union victory in the Battle of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
- March 4 General (future President) Grant receives command of all Union armies.
- May-June Lee attacks Grant in the Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia and then is pursued through Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor, Virginia.
- May Union General Sherman begins the Atlanta, Georgia campaign.
- June 20 Siege on Petersburg, Virginia begins.
- July Confederate General Early threatens to attack Washington, D.C. and comes within 5 miles before being pushed back to Virginia after the Battle of Monocacy, Maryland on July 9.
- August 5 Union Naval victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama.
- September 2 Union General Sherman takes possession of Atlanta, Georgia.
- 8 Abraham Lincoln is re-elected as president of the United States.
- 30 Confederate victory in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee.
- 15-16 Union victory in the Battle of Nashville, Tennessee, ending the war in the West.
- 22 Union General Sherman occupies Savannah, Georgia.
- January 31 The Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.
- February 17 Union General Sherman occupies Columbia, South Carolina.
- February 18 Charleston, South Carolina is occupied by Union troops.
- March 4 Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration.
- 2 Confederate President Davis and his cabinet flee south from the capital of Richmond, Virginia. Confederate troops give up Petersburg, Virginia.
- 9 The Civil War ends when General Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.
- 14-15 Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.
- 11 Southern President Davis is captured.
- 12 Confederates win the last official battle of the Civil War at Palmito Ranch, Texas.
- June 23 The last Confederate army surrenders.
- December 18 The Thirteenth Amendment is ratified, abolishing slavery.
Post-War in the Civil War Timeline
- 1868, July 9 The Fourteenth Amendment gives all former slaves equal rights by law.
If there is something important missing from this American Civil War timeline, please contact me and let me know!
Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.