Civil War Notes


 – Democratic Party splits, allowing the victory to go to Abraham Lincoln. Democrats unable to decide on single candidate. Northern Democrats choose Douglas and Southern Democrats choose Vice President John Breckenridge.            Election Map


1860 – With Abraham Lincoln’s victory in the presidential election South Carolina delegates meet in December and vote to secede from the Union.


1860 – Nations population reaches 31 million.


1861 – South Carolina issues ultimatum. Union troops are to withdraw from Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor or be shelled into submission. First shots of the Civil War occur on April 12th at 4:30 in the morning. 33 hours later the Union raises the white flag over Ft. Sumter. The Civil War has begun.


1861 – Both the Union and the Confederacy receive thousands of volunteers and both nations form huge armies, preparing for a short war.


1861 – Lincoln signs into law first income tax. 3% taken for incomes over $800. Very few will be effected by this law since most Americans make less than $800 a year.


1861 – First major battle of the Civil War takes place in July at Bull Run – or Manassas as it is known to the Confederacy. Surprise victory for the south. Sends the message that it will not be a short war or and easy victory for either side.


1861 – Dorthea Dix appointed to head nurse corps for the United States. More info available at:


1862 – Famous Ironclad ships do battle at Hampton Roads, Virginia. Neither side able to claim victory. Merrimac (CSA) and the Monitor (USA) are first ironclad ships used in warfare. More info available at:


1862 – Lincoln’s second youngest son, William Wallace Lincoln, dies of cold/fever complications. Grief stricken president remains at the nation’s helm.


1862 – Union’s Peninsula Campaign is a huge failure. McClellan and his troops fail to capture southern capital of Richmond, Virginia. Next month (August) the Union loses again in the Second Battle of Bull Run.


1862 – Pacific Railroad Act signed by President Lincoln. Authorizes the building of a trans-continental railroad by two companies. The Union Pacific and the Southern Pacific. One starting point will be Omaha, Nebraska and the other will be Sacramento, California.


1862 – Sharpsburg, Maryland. Battle of Antietam is fought in September. Bloodiest single day in United States history. Nearly 24,000 men fall on this day. General McClellan and his men fail to pursue the Confederates upon their retreat. Lincoln removes McClellan from command for this blunder.


1862 – McClellan’s replacement, Ambrose Burnside, fairs no better against the Confederates. Union loses critical battle at Fredericksburg, Virginia. Wave after wave of Union troops mowed down as they attempt to assault Confederate forces on the high side of the battlefield.


1863 – January 1st. President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation. This states that all slaves residing in areas of rebellion against the United States would be free. This, therefore, excludes the slaves living in the border states. This also adds a second reason for waging the war. The first was to preserve the Union. This now adds the abolition of slavery as a new reason to fight the Rebels. This proclamation also keeps Great Britain from joining the fray.


1863 – Failing to secure enough troops to sustain the war, both North and South institute conscription laws (military draft) to fill out the ranks. Riots break out in several northern cities in protest to the new law. New York is especially devastated by the violence – which lasts almost a week and claims several lives.


1863 – Two huge victories boost the morale and spirit of the North. Union forces thoroughly defeat the Rebels at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Vicksburg, Mississippi. General George Meade leads the North at Gettysburg and Ulysses S. Grant leads a successful siege at Vicksburg. Capturing Vicksburg gives the Union control of the Mississippi.


1863 – Black troops enlisted to fight the war. Massachusetts 54th Colored Regiment is one of the first to be decorated for their assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina.


1863 – President Lincoln goes to Gettysburg to deliver memorial speech. Gives famous Gettysburg Address. Here is the transcript in full.


1864 – General Lee and General Grant clash in Virginia. 20,000+ casualties occur in the Wilderness campaign north of Richmond.


1864 – William Tecumseh Sherman and his men destroy Atlanta and then embark on a destructive march towards Savannah.


1864 – Abraham Lincoln elected to a second term. Soundly defeats Democrat George B. McClellan. Lincoln receives 212 electoral votes while McClellan receives 21. Lincoln chooses Andrew Johnson as his Vice President. See a map of the election results:


Three new state enter the Union during the war. Kansas in 1861, West Virginia in 1863, and Nevada in 1864.


1865 – In March the siege of Petersburg ends in Union victory. Richmond is now in danger of collapse. Richmond falls in April of 1865 and Confederate President Jefferson Davis flees to the south.


1865 – General Grant’s forces capture Lee’s forces at the crossroads known as Appomattox Courthouse. Terms of surrender are generous. Lee’s men lay down their arms and most Confederate officers are allowed to keep their horses. The war is over.


1865 – While attending a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. President Lincoln is shot and killed by assassin John Wilkes Booth on April 14th.  Booth is hunted down by Union troops and killed days later, before being brought to trial. More details available at: