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Timeline of the American Civil War

This timeline contains some of the most important events during the period of the American Civil War.

Important dates


November 6 : The sixteenth president of the United States of America is elected, his name is Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865). Mister Lincoln would be the first Republican president in the history of the United States to oppose slavery in the territories that make up the US.

December 17 : After news spread to the South that the Republicans had won the election, a convention was called of the People of South Carolina to begin planning secession from the Union. The Secession Convention convened in Columbia. On its first day the Convention agreed unanimously to secede from the Union.

December 20 : South Carolina officially secedes from the Union after the Ordinance of Secession was passed.


January : Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana secede from the Union.

February 8 : The southern states that seceded set up a new government at Montgomery, Alabama. The Confederate States of America are formed.

February 18 : Jefferson Davis (1808 - 1889) becomes the first President of the Confederate States of America.

March 4 : Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated.

April 12 : Fort Sumter in South Carolina is fired upon by Souther forces. Historians consider this the formal start of the American Civil War.

April 15 : Four additional southern states secede after President Lincoln orders Union soldiers to crush the Southern rebellion.

June 20 : The counties located in the North West of the state of Virginia break away to form West Virginia. The new state would be accepted as the 35th state of the Union 3 years later.

July - August : Several battles are won by the Confederacy; near Manassas in Viriginia, and the battle of Wilson's Creek in Missouri.


January - February : Union victories at Mill Springs, Kentucky, Fort Henry, Tennessee, and Roanoke Island in North Carolina, weaken the Confederacy.

February 22 : Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America.

March, April : Victories for the Union in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

May - August : A mix of Confederate and Union mixtures.

September 17 : The Battle of Antietam puts a stop to General Lee's invasion of the North. It is the bloodiest day of fighting in the Civil War. An executive order is introduced by President Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation - every slave in the Confederate States is to be set free.


January 1 : Abolitionists applaud the Emancipation Proclamation as it goes into effect.

May 10 : Confederate general Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson dies of complications from pneumonia.

May - June : Fighting continues with several Union and Confederate victories.

July 1 - 3 : The outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg ends general Robert E. Lee's plans to invade the North.

July 4 : The Union now completely controls the Mississippi River, cutting off a vital supply line for the Confederate States.

November 19 : President Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.


March 2 : Ulysses S. Grant is appointed lieutenant general at the request of President Lincoln. Grant is put in command of all Union Armies on March 3.

March - October : Fighting continues with victories for both sides.

November 8 : Abraham Lincoln is reelected.


January - April : More Union victories in North Carolina and Virginia.

April 14 : An actor by the name of John Wilkes Booth assassinates President Lincoln while the President attends a play at Ford's Theater in Washington DC.

April 26 : General Joseph Johnston (1807 - 1891) surrenders.

May 4 : General Richard Taylor (1826 - 1879) surrenders.

May 10 : President Jefferson Davis of the Confederate States is captured.

May 12 : The Confederacy wins the last battle of the Civil War.

May 26 : The Civil War officially ends when General Simon Bolivar Buckner (1823 - 1914) surrenders.

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