Civil War Timeline

Introduction: The civil war was fought between two sections of American society over a number of issues. The southern states of United States were predominantly pro slavery. There was a sense of insecurity prevalent in southern society over the issue of slavery and rising abolitionist stance of North. They accused northern states of not doing enough to preserve their rights and deliberate attempts to abolish slavery in United States.

After the success of Abraham Lincoln, a known anti slavery politician from Republican Party, many Southern States saw no future with the Union and decided to secede. By February 1861, seven states had already seceded. North, led by Lincoln wanted to remain as a united country and decided to wage war against rebel states. The civil war thus started in 1861 and continued unabated till 1865.

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Timeline: The chronological order of major events during the war is as follows:


November 6, 1860: Abraham Lincoln is elected as the President of United States. He does not win in any of the pro slavery southern states. However, his showing in north is enough to see him to office. His success is viewed cynically by south.

December 20, 1860: South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the union. By February, 1861 six more states had seceded.

February 9, 1861: Seven Confederate states announce establishment of an independent country called Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis is appointed president of the Confederation which includes South Carolina, Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

March 4, 1861: Abraham Lincoln is sworn in as president. He faces a herculean task of bringing back all rebel states to the union.

April 12, 1861: After a prolonged crisis, Confederate forces attack and take over Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. This triggers the civil war as North decides to tackle the problem with force.

April, 1861: After Lincoln calls for 75000 volunteers to bolster war effort, four more states announce secession and join Confederation. They were Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas.

April 19, 1861: Lincoln announces blockade of Atlantic coast of Confederate states as a war measure. The blockade is widened to the gulf coast as well later on. This blockade, though not very effective earlier on, affected Confederate economy adversely later in the war.

January 1, 1863: After a series of hard fought battles in 1861 and 1862, Union wins a major victory in Battle of Antietam. After the battle President Lincoln issues emancipation proclamation which sets all slaves in 10 rebel states free.

July 1, 1863: Union army led by General George Meade wins a major battle at Gettysburg. It was not only a tactical win but also a strategic success for Union. The tide of war turned in favor of North after Gettysburg.

September 2, 1864: Union General William Sherman captures Atlanta after a five month long campaign.

November 15, 1864: General Sherman starts his March to the Sea from Atlanta. He serves crippling blows to Confederate economy and morale by laying to waste all that comes in his way.

December 21, 1864: Sherman captures the important port city of Savannah at the end of his March to the Sea.

April 4, 1865: After a long and trying campaign, Confederate General Robert E Lee surrenders to General Ulysses Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. This triggers surrenders of more Confederate commanders.

April 14, 1865: President Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor and Confederate sympathizer, while he was watching a stage play at Ford’s Theater.

May 9, 1865: President Andrew Johnson announces end of civil war. Confederate President Jefferson Davis is captured on the very next day.

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