6 November: Abraham Lincoln of Illinois is elected as the sixteenth president of the United States, the first Republican to hold the office.
20 December: South Carolina is the first state to secede from the Union.
9 January: Mississippi secedes from the Union.
10 January: Florida secedes.
11 January: Alabama secedes.
19 January: Georgia secedes.
26 January: Louisiana secedes.
1 February: Texas secedes.
4 February: In Montgomery, Alabama, seceded states hold a convention to form a provisional government and adopt a constitution that protects slavery.
9 February: Former US senator from Mississippi, Jefferson Finis Davis (pictured), is named provisional president of the Confederate States of America, with Alexander Stephens of Georgia as his vice-president.
13 February: Edwin M. Stanton replaces Simon Cameron as secretary of war and becomes Lincoln’s spymaster.
18 February: Davis and Stephens are inaugurated.
4 March: Abraham Lincoln is sworn in as president and declares secession illegal.
13 April: Major Robert Anderson, commanding Union forces at Fort Sumter in Charles Harbor, South Carolina, surrenders to Confederate forces led by General P.G.T. Beauregard.
17 April: Virginia secedes.
6 May: As the Confederate States of America declares a state of war, Arkansas secedes from the Union, and General Lee tenders his resignation from the Union army after a distinguished career of thirty-two years, citing that he cannot raise his hand against his state and family.
20 May: North Carolina secedes.
8 June: Tennessee secedes.
11 June: West Virginia secedes from the State of Virginia due to predominate Union sympathies in that part of the state.
21 July: Union forces are defeated at the First Battle of Bull Run, also known as the First Manassas, the first major battle of the war.
31 October: Missouri votes to secede from the Union, but is prevented when Lincoln declares martial law and suspends the writ of habeas corpus.
1 November: George B McClellan replaces Winfield Scott as general-in-chief of the Union army after Scott resigns for reasons of health.
6 November: Davis becomes president of the Confederate States in a general election for a six-year term. He will be the first, last and only president of the Confederacy.
9 March: The USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimac) engage in a five-hour battle at Hampton Roads that ends in a stalemate. It is the first battle between ironclad ships.
11 March: McClellan is relieved as commander-in-chief and is given command of the Army of the Potomac.
24 April: David Farragut and his fleet run the Confederate gauntlet of traps, torpedoes and fortifications at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
25 April: Federal forces take New Orleans, Louisiana, and control of the mouth of the Mississippi River and access to the mid-western states by water.
1 July: The Federal Income Tax Act is approved as Lincoln calls for 300,000 volunteers for three years’ service.
28–30 August: Robert E. Lee and Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson lead Confederate troops to victory at the Battle of Second Bull Run, also known as the Second Manassas.
4 September: Lee takes the war north across the Potomac into Maryland.
17 September: The Battle of Antietam goes down in history as the single bloodiest day of the American Civil War.
22 September: A preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is issued freeing only slaves held in Confederate states.
30 December: The Union ironclad USS Monitor sinks off Cape Hatteras.
1 January: Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation.
3 March: US Congress approves the Federal Draft Act, the first draft of American soldiers.
2 May: Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson is wounded by his own men at Chancellorsville and dies eight days later from complications. Lee has lost one of his best generals.
20 June: West Virginia joins the Union.
1 July: The Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, which ends after three days. The casualty rate is higher than all US wars combined, a record that will stand until the Vietnam conflict.
4 July: Vicksburg, Mississippi, falls to Grant after a lengthy siege. The Fourth of July holiday is banned in the city for many years.
13–16 July: Hundreds are killed in the city of New York during draft riots.
21 August: William Quantrill and his band of guerrillas raid the town of Lawrence, Kansas.
19 November: Lincoln attends the dedication of the memorial at Gettysburg where his brief comments become known as the Gettysburg Address. The speech is ten sentences long and takes less than two minutes to deliver.
19 January: Arkansas adopts an anti-slavery constitution.
17 February: The submarine CSS Hunley sinks the USS Housatonic off the coast of C–harleston, South Carolina, but fails to return to port.
9 March: Grant is promoted to lieutenant general.
12 March: Henry Halleck takes over as commander-in-chief of the Union forces.
7 May: Sherman begins his march toward the city of Atlanta, Georgia.
7 June: Lincoln is nominated for a second term as president.
20 July: Union forces under Sherman clash with Confederate forces under John H. Hood at Peachtree Creek, outside of Atlanta. The Siege of Atlanta begins.
5 August: Admiral David Farragut defeats the Confederate navy in the Battle of Mobile Bay with fourteen wooden ships and four ironclads. When torpedoes were reported to block his way, Farragut ordered, ‘Damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead!’
31 August: General George B. McClellan is nominated as the Democratic candidate for president of the United States.
2 September: Hood abandons Atlanta and Sherman’s troops occupy the city.
8 November: Lincoln is re-elected president, with Andrew Johnson as his vice-president.
16 November: Sherman abandons Atlanta to begin his infamous March to the Sea.
22 December: Lincoln receives a telegram from Sherman: I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah.
31 January: Lee is named commander-in-chief by the Confederate Congress while the US House of Representatives passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, with a vote of 119 to 56, officially abolishing slavery throughout the United States and all of her territories.
18 February: Sherman occupies Charleston, South Carolina, without resistance.
4 March: Lincoln is inaugurated for his second term as president.
13 March: The Confederate Congress authorizes the recruitment of African-American soldiers.
3 April: The city of Richmond, Virginia, is occupied by Union troops. Lincoln visits the Confederate capital the next day.
9 April: Lee surrenders to Grant at the home of Wilmer McLean in Appomattox, Virginia. McLean had moved from his home near the battlefield at Bull Run to escape the war. He later said the war began in his front yard and ended in his front parlour.
26 April : Four years to the day from when he yielded at Fort Sumter, Major Robert Anderson returns to accept surrender of the fort from the same man who accepted his surrender – General P.G.T. Beauregard.
Near Durham, North Carolina, Sherman meets with General Joseph E. Johnston to accept the largest surrender of Confederate forces.
Later that evening, President Abraham Lincoln is fatally shot by actor and southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC.
15 April: Lincoln dies in a house just across the street from Ford’s Theatre. Andrew Johnson finds himself president of the United States.
26 April: Union soldier Boston Corbett defies orders and shoots John Wilkes Booth in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia.
10 May: Confederate president Jefferson Davis is captured near Irwinville, Georgia, and taken to Fort Monroe, Virginia, while in Washington DC President Andrew Johnson proclaims the end of armed resistance.
13 May: The last shots of the American Civil War are fired in the Battle of Palmito Hill near Brownsville, Texas.
29 May: Johnston proclaims amnesty for all southern citizens who pledge allegiance to the United States, with a few exceptions that include Confederate officers.
30 June: Eight people are convicted of conspiracy by a military tribunal in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Four are sentenced to prison terms, but are eventually pardoned by President Johnson. The other four are executed.
7 July: Mary Surratt is executed by hanging along with three others found guilty of conspiracy in the assassination of Lincoln. Surratt is the first woman to be executed by the Federal government.
18 December: The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America abolishing slavery is declared ‘in effect’.
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