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Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th president of the United States.
South Carolina secedes from the Union, soon to be followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.
Kansas become the 34th state in the Union.
Delegates from the seceded states meet in Montgomery, Alabama to draw up a constitution and form the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as president.
Confederate forces under General P.G.T. Beauregard fire on Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Major Robert
Anderson surrenders the fort without the loss of a single life.
Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers, prompting Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee to leave the Union.
Richmond is made the capital of the Confederacy.
The Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run): Confederates win the first major battle of the war, but illusions of a short war are shattered.
Confederate commissioners James Mason and John Slidell are arrested aboard the HMS Trent sparking Confederate hopes that England would declare war on the United States.
February 6 &16
Forts Henry and Donelson fall to General Ulysses S. Grant, resulting in the Confederacy's first major losses.
The first battle between ironclad ships ends in a draw when the Monitor and the Virginia meet at Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Union troops gain a victory at Shiloh, Tennessee. With over 23,000 men killed, wounded, or missing, more casualties were suffered at Shiloh than in all previous American wars combined.
New Orleans falls to Union troops.
May 5-July 1
General George B. McCellan begins his Peninsula Campaign to capture Richmond. At Seven Pines, Confederate General Joseph Johnston is wounded and Robert E. Lee is given command of the Army of Northern Virginia. After heavy fighting outside of Richmond during the Seven Days Battles, McCellan is forced to withdraw.
Confederates win a Second victory at Manassas.
Lee's campaign into Maryland ends in the bloodiest day of the war as both armies battle at Sharpsburg (Antietam). Lincoln, with the victory for which he has been waiting, announces plans to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
Union troops win the battle for Corinth, Mississippi.
The Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia is a Confederate victory.
Lincoln signs a bill approving the creation of West Virginia
Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, which frees slaves in states in rebellion to the United States.
The Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia: Although a Confederate victory, the South mourns the loss of Stonewall Jackson, who is mortally wounded.
Grant lays siege to Vicksburg, Mississippi.
The first U.S. Colored Troops are mustered into service.
The Battle of Gettysburg becomes the largest battle fought on American soil with over 51,000 casualties. Lee loses a third of his army and is forced to retreat back across the Potomac.
Vicksburg falls to Grant. With the Union in control of the Mississippi, the Confederacy is split in half.
Confederates win a victory at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia
Union troops win a victory in the Battle of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.
The Hunley sinks the USS Housatonic, becoming the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel.
Grant is confirmed lieutenant general and commander of all U.S. forces.
Bloody battles are fought in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania, and at Cold Harbor as Lee attempts to keep Grant from taking Richmond.
JEB Stuart is mortally wounded at Yellow Tavern.
Grant lays siege to Petersburg, Virginia.
General William T. Sherman occupies Atlanta, Georgia after General John Bell Hood is forced to evacuate.
Lincoln is re-elected.
Hood retreats into Mississippi after his army is decimated in the battles of Franklin and Nashville.
Sherman occupies Savannah.
Columbia, South Carolina falls to Sherman's troops and is burned.
The Confederate Congress authorizes the use of slaves as troops.
Lee is forced to abandon Petersburg after the Union army breaks though his lines. The Confederate government flees Richmond, which is occupied by Union troops the next day.
Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
Lincoln is assassinated at Ford's Theatre.
Jefferson Davis and his family are captured outside of Irwinville, Georgia.
The Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery is adopted.