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Time Line of the Civil War,
Including Events that Occurred in Alabama

Dr. Leah Rawls Atkins, Auburn University (retired)
Correlates to Alabama Course of Study: Social Studies 10th Grade Content Standard 10, p. 73
Correlates to Graduation Exam Eligible Content Standard IV, Objective 1

(Alabama facts are in italic type.)

Nov. 1860 Election of Republican presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln.

Dec. 1860 Alabama elects delegates to a secession convention to meet in Montgomery in January, 1861.

Jan. 3, 1861 Alabama governor A. B. Moore activates the Alabama militia.

Jan. 4, 1861 Gov. Moore orders the Alabama militia to take possession of all federal installations in Alabama—Forts Morgan and Gaines and the federal arsenal at Mount Vernon.

Jan. 11, 1861 Alabama secession convention votes to secede, taking Alabama out of the Union.

Feb. 4, 1861 The Confederate Congress convenes in Montgomery, the first capital of the Confederate States of America.

April 12, 1861 Confederate troops at Charleston, South Carolina, open fire on Ft. Sumter in Charleston harbor. The American Civil War begins.

July 1861 First Battle of Manassas (First Bull Run)—Gen. Irvin McDowell (N) v. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard (S). The South emerges overconfident; the North prepares for a long war.

August 8, 1861 John Gill Shorter elected governor of Alabama.

April 11, 1862 Union General O. M. Mitchel occupies Huntsville, Alabama.

May 2, 1862 Union Colonel B. Turchin leads raid into north Alabama; burns and loots Athens.

April 1862 Confederate Conscription Act passed by Confederate Congress. Confederate troops begin looking for draft dodgers in Alabama hill country.

April 6-7, 1862 Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburgh Landing), Tennessee. South retreats following bloody battle and heavy losses.

April 23-24, 1862 New Orleans falls to Union troops.

Summer 1862 Confederate General Josiah Gorgas moves Mount Vernon arsenal operations north to Selma. Selma becomes an important weapons manufacturing town.

June 1862 Peninsular Campaign in Virginia—Gen. George B. McClellan lands Union troops south of Richmond and goes against Southern army under Gen. J. E. Johnston; after Johnston is wounded, Gen. Robert E. Lee is placed in command.

August-November 1862 Gen. Braxton Bragg (S) invades Kentucky. South at peak of victories.

August 1862 Second Battle of Manassas (Second Bull Run)—Gen. John Pope (N) v. Gen. Lee (S). Lee defeats Pope and forces northern army back.

August 1862 CSS Alabama commissioned off coast of Wales in command of Mobile lawyer and Confederate Captain (later admiral) Raphael Semmes.

September 1862 CSS Florida, famous Confederate raider and sister ship of the Alabama, runs Union blockade into Mobile Bay for needed repairs and supplies; sets up on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay.

September 1862 Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg)—Gen. McClellan (N) v. Gen. Lee (S). Lee fights, but after bloody battle, with his army far from home and supplies, decides to order a retreat to the South. Lincoln takes this opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

Dec. 1862-Jan. 1863 Battle of Murfreesboro (Stone's River)—Gen. Braxton Bragg v. Gen. William S. Rosecrans. Drawn battle results in Confederate retreat.

December 1862 Fredericksburg—Gen. Ambrose Burnsides (N) v. Gen. Lee (S). Southern army drives back northern invasion.

April 1863 Gen. Abel Streight leads Union raid across North Alabama. Emma Sansom helps Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest cross Black Creek (near present-day Gadsden) to pursue federal raiders.

May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville—Gen. Joseph Hooker (N) v. Gen. Lee (S). Confederate General Stonewall Jackson killed after a quick flanking march turns tide to South.

July 1863 Vicksburg falls; entire Mississippi River soon controlled by North.

July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg—Gen. George Gordon Meade (N) v. Gen. Lee (S). South defeated. Tragic charge by Pickett's forces. Great losses on both sides.

August 1863 Thomas Hill Watts defeats John Gill Shorter in Alabama gubernatorial election; Watts becomes governor in December. "Peace Party" increases support in Alabama.

September-November 1863 Battles of Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain. North drives southern troops from heights overlooking Tennessee River.

January 1864 Gen. W. T. Sherman (N) begins drive from Tennessee toward Atlanta; Gen. U. S. Grant brought from western area to Virginia and ordered toward Richmond.

February 1864 Mobile-built submarine Hunley sinks a federal warship off Charleston Harbor but sinks on trip back to port.

March 1864-June 1864 "Wilderness Campaign" of Gen. Grant. Numerous battles against Gen. Lee's army in Virginia.

June 18, 1864 CSS Alabama sinks in English Channel off French coast in fight with USS Kearsage. Capt. (later Adm.) Raphael Semmes escapes to England.

July 1864 Union General Lovell H. Rousseau raids into Alabama to cut the Western Railroad that is supplying Confederate forces in Atlanta. Tracks are cut west of Auburn.

July 1864 Atlanta falls to Gen. Sherman; Sherman starts his famous "March to the Sea" through Georgia. Fall of Atlanta ensures Lincoln's reelection in the fall and defeat for the Peace Democrats.

August 5, 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay. Federal Admiral Farragut (famous saying: "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" But he probably really said, "Go Ahead") enters Mobile Bay, defeats Confederate forces and the CSS Tennessee, a Confederate ship clad with iron from Selma.

November 1864 Lincoln reelected president on a Union Party (fusion) ticket with his vice-presidential running mate long-time Tennessee Senator Andrew Johnson (a Democrat).

December 1864 Gen. Sherman takes Savannah. His march through Georgia is complete.

July 1864-April 1865 Siege of Petersburg, Virginia—Gen. Grant (N) v. Gen. Lee (S).

March 1865 Generals James H. Wilson and John T. Croxton (N) lead raid into Alabama; iron works in Jefferson and Bibb counties are burned. Union troops are divided. Wilson moves south to capture and burn Selma, then Montgomery, moves east through Auburn into Georgia; Croxton is ordered west to burn the University of Alabama.

April 9, 1865 Gen. Lee (S) surrenders to Gen. Grant (N) at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Fort Blakeley in Baldwin County captured.

April 13, 1865 Mobile surrenders to Union general Edward R. S. Canby.

April 14, 1865 At the Ford Theater in Washington John Wilkes Booth, a southern partisan, shoots President Lincoln, who dies the next morning. Vice-President Andrew Johnson (a southerner from Tennessee but one who opposed secession) becomes president.

April 17, 1865 In North Carolina, Gen. J. E. Johnston surrenders his army to Gen. Sherman.

May 4, 1865 At Citronelle, Alabama, Confederate General Richard Taylor surrenders the Dept. of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana. This included the remaining troops in Alabama.