American Civil War Events of 1861


1861 saw a growing list of southern states secede from the Union, placing President-elect Abraham Lincoln in a most difficult position heading into office.

Though the war had been brewing for quite some time prior, 1861 marked its true start. Back in December of 1860, South Carolina voted to seceded from the Union (the first state to do so) and it was this action that spurred other southern states to join the rebellion - forcing the pot of war to finally boil over. Five states joined her in January of 1861 alone and others came aboard to further strengthen the ranks of the Confederacy.

While there was plenty of fervor to leave the Union, there were many across the south who saw the pain and loss that lay ahead as well; there people were, in fact, renouncing their allegiance to the United States of America - the nation built upon the pain and loss of its founding peoples (George Washington himself was a Virginian). There also remained pockets across the south that remained very loyal to the Union and took measures to ensure its survival.

There are a total of (228) American Civil War Events of 1861 in the CivilWarTimeline.net database. Entries are listed below by date-of-occurrence ascending (first-to-last).








January 1, 1861

Based in San Francisco, the Department of the Pacific is created for the U.S. Army.



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January 2, 1861

North Carolinian forces take the Fayetteville arsenal as well as Fort Macon and the forts of Wilmington.



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January 3, 1861

Georgian forces claim Fort Pulaski critical to the defense of Savannah, Georgia.



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January 3, 1861

Delaware votes to remain in the Union despite its position as a slave state.



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January 4, 1861

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President James Buchanan, in light of the impending war between North and South, calls for a Day of Special Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer.



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January 5, 1861

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Jefferson Davis, a United States Senator, is just one voice calling for southern states to secede from the Union.



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January 6, 1861

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New York mayor, Fernando Wood, calls for New York city to secede from the Union in an effort to remain neutral for the upcoming conflict.



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January 8, 1861

A U.S. Army garrison stationed at Fort Barrancas (Pensacola, Florida) turns back an attempted assault to take the fort.



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January 9, 1861

The steamer "Star of the West", laden with supplies and en route to Fort Sumter in Charleston (South Carolina), is fired upon by land-based cannons.



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January 9, 1861

The state of Mississippi moves to secede from the Union, strengthening the growing Confederacy in the south.



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January 10, 1861

Florida follows Mississippi and moves to secede from the Union.



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January 10, 1861

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Stephen Mallory, a Florida senator, resigns his position to join the ranks of the growing Confederacy government.



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January 11, 1861

Alabama moves to secede from the Union, following Mississippi and Florida just days ago.



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January 12, 1861

Floridian state forces claim the U.S. Navy Yard at Pensacola.



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January 12, 1861

Star of the West, a steamer having delivered supplies to Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, returns to New York with her battle-damaged hull resulting from a Confederate attack.



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January 19, 1861

The state of Georgia officially secedes from the Union, joining its southern sister states in the new Confederacy.



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January 21, 1861

United States Senator Jefferson Davis officially resigns from his position.



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January 26, 1861

The state of Louisiana formally secedes from the Union.



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January 29, 1861

Kansas is officially brought into the Union holding non-slave state status.



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January 29, 1861

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John Dix, the acting United States Secretary of the Treasury, orders authorities in New Orleans to shoot anyone attempting to bring down the American flag.



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February 1, 1861

Texas declares it has seceded from the Union, joining a chorus of southern states in defiance of the north.



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February 4, 1861

A provisional government arranged to head the affairs of the new south meet in Montgomery, Alabama.



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February 4, 1861

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United States Senator Judah Benjamin of Louisiana resigns his position to join the Confederacy.



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February 4, 1861

In an effort to settle the issue of slavery, representatives of some twenty-one states meet in Washington, D.C. to form the Washington Peace Conference. The conference runs until February 27th.



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February 8, 1861

Confederate government leaders announce the name of "Confederate States of America" to mark their new union.



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February 8, 1861

State troops of Arkansas take the official state arsenal.



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February 9, 1861

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Jefferson Davis and Alexander H. Stephens are elected as provisional president and vice president of the Confederate States of America by the new government.



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February 11, 1861

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President-elect Abraham Lincoln departs Springfield, Illinois.



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February 18, 1861

The Confederate States of America reveal their national anthem, "Dixie".



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February 18, 1861

Confederate leaders in Montgomery inaugurate officers to head up various positions in the new government.



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February 21, 1861

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Leroy Walker is named Secretary of War for the Confederate States of America.



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February 21, 1861

Stephen Mallory is appointed Secretary of the Navy for the Confederate States of America.



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February 21, 1861

President-elect Abraham Lincoln makes a stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is made aware of an assassination plot against his life. In response a special train journey is arranged for him to Washington, D.C.



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February 22, 1861

Abraham Lincoln, the President-elect of the United States, arrives safely in Washington, D.C.



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February 23, 1861

Texans go to the polls and overwhelmingly reaffirm their intent to secede from the Union.



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February 23, 1861

Abraham Lincoln, President-elect of the United States, has his inaugural photograph taken at Matthew Brady's studio.



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February 25, 1861

The Confederate government names Judah Benjamin, a former U.S. senator, as its first Attorney General.



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March 2, 1861

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Tennessee state senator Andrew Johnson makes the declaration that any who opposed the Union would be hanged if he were President. Johnson will one day lead the nation as its 17th President.



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March 4, 1861

Abraham Lincoln is officially inaugurated as the next President of the United States, succeeding James Buchanan.



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March 4, 1861

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The "Stars and Bars" is named as the first official flag of the Confederate States of America by the Confederate Congress.



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March 5, 1861

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Three Confederate representatives arrive in Washington, D.C. but their status is not acknowledged by Secretary of State William Seward.



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March 6, 1861

The Provisional Army of the Confederate States is established by the Confederate government.



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March 11, 1861

The Constitution of the Confederate States of America is adopted by the south.



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March 16, 1861

The Confederate States Marine Corps is founded by the Confederate Congress.



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March 21, 1861

In a speech given during a stop in Savannah, Georgia, Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens reaffirms the southern stance on slavery.



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March 27, 1861

Virginia establishes the State Rangers as a state-based militia force.



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April 6, 1861

President Lincoln notifies the government of South Carolina that general supplies will be sent to Fort Sumter at Charleston Harbor - he gives his assurances that any strengthening of the position will only be made if the Fort is in danger of attack.



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April 11, 1861

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General P.G.T. Beauregard, a Confederate officer, calls for Fort Sumter to surrender. Commanding Union Major Robert Anderson refuses his demand.



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April 12, 1861

With the refusal by Union forces at Fort Sumter to surrender their post, Confederate forces begin their ranged bombardment of the island.



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April 12, 1861

At 4:30AM, a gun from Fort Johnson fires a star shell that detonates above Fort Sumter. This is the signal for the surrounding gun batteries to begin shelling the Union-held fort.



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April 12, 1861

At 7:00AM, the guns of Fort Sumter return fire against Confederate positions in Charleston Harbor.



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AprilI 13, 1861

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Fort Sumpter is surrendered by Union Major Anderson to Confederate forces.



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April 13, 1861

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USS Sabine blockades the Confederate port at Pensacola, Florida.



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April 13, 1861

At 2:30AM, Major Robert Anderson surrenders Fort Sumter to the Confederacy.



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April 14, 1861

Having surrendered, Union forces abandon Fort Sumter.



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April 15, 1861

President Lincoln calls for a special session of Congress to discuss the growing rebellion in the south.



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April 15, 1861

President Lincoln pushes for 75,000 soldiers who will each serve three-month tenures.



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April 16, 1861

With the stroke of a pen, President Lincoln abolishes the practice of slavery in Washington, D.C.



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April 16, 1861

President Lincoln calls on all states in the Union to cease doing business with those southern states that have moved to secede.



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April 16, 1861

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Union forces leave and burn the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia resulting in the loss of thousands of rifles.



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April 17, 1861

The state of Virginia officially secedes from the Union.



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April 17, 1861

Confederate President Jefferson Davis calls on any and all privately-own vessels allied to the southern cause to openly attack Union merchants.



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April 18, 1861

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Robert E. Lee declines an offer by President Lincoln to command the United States Army.



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April 18, 1861

State forces of Virginia take over what remains of the Harpers Ferry arsenal.



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April 18, 1861

The 6th Massachusetts Regiment arrives in New York City.



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April 19, 1861

President Lincoln calls on all southern ports to be blockaded, the territories in question being the lower East Coast all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.



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April 19, 1861

During unrest in Washington, D.C., four soldiers and twelve civilians are killed.



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April 19, 1861

The New York 7th Regiment begins their march to Washington, D.C. to help bolster defenses there.



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April 20, 1861

To avoid further clashes with troops, Baltimore formally asks President Lincoln to refrain from having military forces pass through the city.



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April 20, 1861

Robert E. Lee, then a Colonel, resigns his position within the United States Army.



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April 20, 1861

Union forces destroy a section of the Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia before abandoning it.



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April 20, 1861

A resolution is passed in Union Square (New York) calling for citizens to band together and help save the nation from destruction.



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April 20, 1861

Telegraphs are confiscated by the United States government to help identify those that would cause harm to the Union.



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April 20, 1861

American citizens are arrested throughout Baltimore, Boston and New York without due process - brought about by warrants issued under the name of the United States Secretary of State.



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April 21, 1861

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Thomas Jackson arrives in Richmond, Virginia with cadets from the Virginia Military Institute to ready them for war.



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April 21, 1861

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General Benjamin Butler, a Union officer, arrives at Annapolis, Maryland with his forces. However Governor Thomas Hicks takes offense to northern elements present in the state.



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April 22, 1861

The United States government moves in to take over the now-vacated estate of Robert E. Lee, known as "Arlington House". The estate sat on the Potomac River.



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April 22, 1861

Lieutenant Joseph Wheeler, an officer in the United States Army, resigns his position to join the ranks of the south.



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April 23, 1861

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Robert E. Lee is given command of the forces of the state of Virginia (as a Major General).



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April 24, 1861

Virginia formally aligns its state military capabilities with that of the Confederate Army.



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April 24, 1861

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USS Niagra, having arrived from Japan, is dispatched to the Charleston Harbor (South Carolina) area near Fort Sumter.



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April 26, 1861

Fort Smith in Arkansas falls to Confederate elements.



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April 27, 1861

President Lincoln adds east coast ports in Virginia and North Carolina to the existing naval blockade action of the South.



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April 27, 1861

Colonel Thomas Jackson takes command at Harpers Ferry (Virginia).



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April 27, 1861

Colonel Thomas Jackson arranges for more infantry forces from the Shenandoah Valley area (Virginia).



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April 29, 1861

Confederate President Jefferson Davis calls a special session of congress to address recent developments - including the capture of Fort Sumter by South Carolinian forces.



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April 29, 1861

The state of Maryland votes to remain in the Union.



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April 29, 1861

The Confederate Congress convenes in Montgomery (Alabama) to tackle several issues. The group will gather until May 21st.



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May 3, 1861

President Lincoln asks Congress for additional troops for three-year terms - hoping to bolster the ranks of the Army and Navy services. Some 42,000 volunteer forces are required.



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May 6, 1861

Arkansas becomes the latest state to secede from the Union.



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May 7, 1861

The state of Tennessee formally aligns its military capabilities with that of the Confederacy.



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May 9, 1861

Military assets of Texas are officially handed over to the Texas Rangers by U.S. General David Twiggs.



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May 10, 1861

State authorities of Maryland pass a resolution decrying the war against the south. It decides to take a neutral stance in the growing conflict.



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May 10, 1861

Union elements take militia forces at Camp Jackson outside of St. Louis, Missouri. The action causes riots to break out.



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May 11, 1861

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U.S. Army General George McClellan is set in charge of the Department of the Ohio covering the states of Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania (western) and Virginia (western).



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May 13, 1861

Union forces, under the command of Benjamin Butler, take Baltimore, Maryland.



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May 13, 1861

Britain declares herself neutral in the American conflict and fails to officially recognize the Confederate States of America.



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May 14, 1861

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William Tecumseh Sherman is named a Colonel in the U.S. Army's 13th Infantry Regiment.



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May 14, 1861

Both Fort McHenry and Baltimore, Maryland are occupied by troops under the direction of General Benjamin Butler.



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May 16, 1861

In an effort to strengthen its forces, the government of the Confederacy offers $10 enlistment bonuses.



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May 20, 1861

North Carolina officially secedes from the Union.



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May 21, 1861

Richmond, Virginia becomes the official national capital of the Confederacy of the United States.



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May 24, 1861

Union forces cross the Ohio River into Virginia. Part of their mission is to secure forces loyal to the north found in the eastern part of the state.



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June 1, 1861

The Confederate cause records its first casualty of war - Captain John Q. Marr - who died at the Fairfax Court House in Virginia.



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June 1, 1861

In a proclamation to Virginians, General Beauregard gives a speech hoping to inspire the masses against actions of the north. He skillfully wields words like "tyrant", "murdering" and "outrage".



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June 2, 1861

With General Beauregard now in command, the "Potomac Department" becomes the "Army of the Potomac".



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June 2, 1861

CSS Savannah manages to beat the Union blockade of Charleston Harbor and escape to open water.



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June 3, 1861

En route from Cuba and laden with a cargo hold of sugar, USS Joseph is intercepted and captured by CSS Savannah.



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June 3, 1861

USS Perry manages to capture CSS Savannah and her crew intact. The prize is relocated to New York waters.



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June 3, 1861

In the war's first contact battle between the two sides, Union forces claim the victory over Confederate elements at Philippi in West Virginia. The retreat of the Confederates, under General Robert Garnett, is so fast the engagement is known as the "Philippi Races".



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June 4, 1861

Suffering defeat in the first true land battle of the war, Confederate forces clear out of Philippi, West Virginia.



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June 5, 1861

In trying to muster greater hatred of the north, General Beauregard claims to Virginians that the north stands as a tyrant and has invaded their territory.



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June 8, 1861

The state of Tennessee formally secedes from the Union.



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June 8, 1861

The Kentucky government keeps its military forces neutral in the ongoing - and growing - conflict between the north and south.



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June 9, 1861

Mary Ann Bickerdyke begins her tenure as a wartime nurse for the north. Her contributions would go on to include establishment of 300 field hospitals and post-war support of veterans.



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June 10, 1861

In the war's first complete pitched battle, the Confederates claim the victory over the Union at Big Bethel, Virginia.



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June 10, 1861

Captain Judson Kilpatrick becomes the first Union officer wounded in the conflict, this after Union forces are repulsed at Big Bethel, Virginia.



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June 11, 1861

Union loyalists in Western Virginia arrange their own local government. The work lasts through June 19th.



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June 13, 1861

In order to improve conditions for injured and recovering troops, the United States Sanitary Commission is established in the north.



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June 14, 1861

Acting governor of Virginia, John Letcher, calls on West Virginians to join the Confederate cause.



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June 15, 1861

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Jefferson City, Missouri - the state's capital - is claimed by Union forces under the direction of Captain Nathaniel Lyon.



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June 17, 1861

Confederate forces claim the victory in a skirmish against Union forces at Vienna, Virginia.



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June 17, 1861

Captain Lyon leads his victorious Union forces against opposing militia at Boonville, Missouri in what becomes the Battle of Boonville. Losses are light for both sides and helps the Union maintain control of the Missouri River.



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June 17, 1861

Thomas Jackson, a Colonel in the Confederate Army, is now promoted to Brigadier General.



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June 17, 1861

Ulysses S. Grant of the Union Army achieves the rank of Colonel and named to the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment.



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June 27, 1861

Union numbers defending the Union capital of Washington, D.C. now number close to 40,000 men.



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July 1, 1861

At this point in the war, the United States Navy claims a fleet of over 80 warships and some 13,000 personnel.



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July 2, 1861

President Lincoln suspends "writ of habeas corpus" in unique circumstances - the writ allowing a person the right to report an unlawful detention or imprisonment before a court.



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July 4, 1861

President Lincoln, in a special session of Congress, asks for 500,000 men for the Union war effort. Current Union strength numbers 260,000 men with 165,000 of these being volunteers.



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July 11, 1861

Union forces are victorious over Condeferate elements at Rich Mountain in West Virginia.



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July 13, 1861

In Carrick's Ford (West Virginia), Confederate General Robert Garnett becomes the first officer-level casualty of the war.



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July 16, 1861

Forces under the command of Union General Irvin McDowell are on the march from Washington, D.C. towards Manassas, Virginia.



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July 18, 1861

Contact is made between opposing sides at Blackburns' Ford, Virginia.



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July 19, 1861

Robert Toombs, the acting Secretary of State for the Confederacy, resigns his post to lead forces in Georgia as a brigadier general.



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July 19, 1861

Robert Hunter succeeds Robert Toombs in the post of Secretary of State for the Confederacy.



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July 20, 1861

The Confederate Congress meets once more, this time in the new capital of Richmond, Virginia. The group will convene until August 31st.



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July 20, 1861

Union commander Irvin McDowell moves his 10,000 men from Centreville in two forces moving west and south westward. His intention is to flank the left side of the Confederate army.



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July 21, 1861

At 8:30AM, Confederate forces at Stone Bridge are made aware of the Union presence at Sudley Road. Confederate General N.G. Evans moves his units to cover any Union retreat.



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July 21, 1861

Confederate General N.G. Evans and his men meet Union forces in battle.



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July 21, 1861

Finding themselves outnumbered, General Evans and his force retreats to Henry House Hill under the Federal pressure.



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July 21, 1861

The front lines repeatedly change hands in the battle as both sides make - and lose - progress.



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July 21, 1861

Confederate forces withdraw from their positions at Henry House Hill.



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July 21, 1861

Confederate General Thomas Jackson brings in fresh troops ready-to-fight.



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July 21, 1861

At 4:00PM the Confederates manage to force Union parties into retreat back towards Centreville.



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July 22, 1861

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Confederate forces claim the first major victory of the war at the "Battle of First Manassas" - known to the north as the "First Battle of Bull Run". The war spanned just one day but resulted in tens of thousands of casualties including nearly 2,000 for the Confederates and over 2,700 for the Union. The battle also marks the war's first photographic images - these taken by Matthew Brady.



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July 22, 1861

General George McClellan is handed control of the Division of the Potomac near Washington, D.C. by President Lincoln.



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July 22, 1861

The United States Congress pushes through a resolution that declares the raging war to be about the preservation of the Union and not the ending of slavery.



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July 22, 1861

After heavy losses incurred by both sides, the Battle of Bull Run is over. Federal forces retreat hastily back towards the safety of Washington, D.C.



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July 27, 1861

CSS Sumter arrives in Venezuela.



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July 27, 1861

Having assumed his new post near Washington, D.C., Union General George McClellan arranges the Army of the Potomac.



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July 27, 1861

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Confederate Colonel John Baylor, with forces from Texas at his disposal, claims Fort Fillmore at San Augustine Springs in New Mexico.



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July 30, 1861

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Union General Benjamin Butler pens a letter to Simon Cameron, the United States Secretary of War, explaining his refusal to return any fleeing slaves - considering them materials to be claimed by the conquerors.



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August 2, 1861

General George McClellan forms an agreement with reporters and photographers offering military telegraph services in exchange for limited publishing of Union details.



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August 3, 1861

For the first time in warfare a reconnaissance balloon is used by Union forces to assess Confederate positions. The balloon is launched from USS Fanny at Hampton Roads to observe the enemy at Sewell's Point, Virginia.



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August 3, 1861

Union warships open fire on Confederate positions at Galveston, Texas.



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August 3, 1861

William T. Sherman, then a colonel in the Union ranks, is promoted to Brigadier General.



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August 5, 1861

The federal government issues the first-ever income tax to help finance the Union war effort.



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August 6, 1861

The Second Confiscation Act is passed by the United States Congress. Details include forfeiting of slaves should one be caught aiding the Confederate war effort.



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August 6, 1861

Having completed much-needed work, the United States Congress ends its special session.



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August 7, 1861

Colonel Ulysses S. Grant is named Brigadier General in command of volunteer forces at Cairo, Illinois.



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August 7, 1861

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To limit Union troop housing options, Hampton, Virginia is burned by Confederate troops under the command of General John B. Magruder.



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August 10, 1861

The Battle of Wilson's Creek in Missouri is won by Confederate forces.



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August 10, 1861

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Union General Nathaniel Lyon is killed during the Battle of Wilson's Creek in Missouri. He becomes the first Union general to be slain.



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August 12, 1861

The Confederates announce an alliance with Indian tribes located within southern territories.



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August 21, 1861

Cherokee Indians meet at Tahlegue and announce their alliance with the Confederate States of America. Their numbers total 4,000.



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August 23, 1861

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House arrest is the verdict handed to Rose O'Neal Greenhow. She was accused of spying for Confederate forces.



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August 29, 1861

Union forces take Fort Hatteras in North Carolina.



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August 29, 1861

Union forces take Fort Clark in North Carolina.



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August 29, 1861

The Hatteras Inlet of North Carolina is claimed by Union forces.



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August 30, 1861

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Missouri slaves of owners supporting the Confederacy are freed by Union General John C. Fremont after he announces martial law in the state.



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August 31, 1861

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Confederate President Jefferson Davis appoints Colonel George Washington Custis Lee as a personal assistant. The Colonel is none other than General Robert E. Lee's oldest son.



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September 2, 1861

The emancipation of Missouri slaves by Union General John C. Fremont is put down by President Lincoln. He is then reassigned.



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September 3, 1861

Confederate forces move into Western Kentucky and take Columbus along the all-important Mississippi River.



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September 4, 1861

General Grant and his forces move into Paducah, Kentucky.



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September 5, 1861

In an effort to elevate care for the Union wounded in the Western Theater, the Western Sanitary Commission is established in St. Louis, Missouri.



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September 7, 1861

Ship Island, off the coast of Biloxi, Mississippi, is claimed by Union forces.



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September 10, 1861

Confederate forces enact a retreat of Carnifex Ferry in West Virginia



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September 10, 1861

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Union General William Rosecrans is wounded at the fighting in Carnifex, West Virginia.



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September 11, 1861

The state government of Kentucky calls for the removal of Confederate troops from its soil. The demand falls on deaf ears.



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September 11, 1861

Confederate General Robert E. Lee attempts to take Union positions at Cheat Mountain in West Virginia. This marks Lee's first major foray in the war.



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September 12, 1861

Confederate-aligned state forces of Missouri begin a siege of Lexington.



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September 13, 1861

General Lee's assault on Cheat Mountain is a failure.



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September 13, 1861

President Lincoln turns down a request by Chicago-area group to issue an emancipation proclamation. The president is convinced the action would sway border states to the Confederate cause.



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September 13, 1861

Forces from the frigate USS Colorado burn an enemy ship during a raid on Pensacola, Florida. The group is led by Lieutenant J.H. Russel.



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September 17, 1861

Ships of the United States Navy move in to secure Ship Island off the coast of Mississippi.



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September 17, 1861

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Leroy Walker is succeeded by Judah Benjamin as the Confederate Secretary of War.



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September 20, 1861

Confederate forces capture Lexington, Missouri.



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October 1, 1861

Confederate Navy forces capture USS Fanny.



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October 1, 1861

Confederate generals request 20,000 additional troops to take Maryland. Their request is denied by President Jefferson Davis.



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October 2, 1861

To avoid arrest as a traitor, United States Senator John C. Breckinridge escapes Kentucky to join the Confederate cause.



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October 4, 1861

United States Navy authorities put into place plans for its first ironclad warship - to become the famous USS Monitor.



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October 7, 1861

"Stonewall Jackson", currently a Brigadier General serving with the Confederate Army, is handed the promotion to Major General.



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November 7, 1861

Union forces take Port Royal Harbor in south Carolina.



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October 8, 1861

A Confederate force raids a Union camp at Santa Rosa Island (Pensacola).



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October 9, 1861

Union troops manage to push back a Confederate attack targeting supplies on Santa Rosa Island in Pensacola Harbor, Florida.



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October 13, 1861

Confederate General Turner Ashby's forces raid Harpers Ferry in Virginia.



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October 17, 1861

To this point, notes issued by the Confederate Treasury have raised $100 million in support of the war.



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October 21, 1861

Confederate forces successfully intercept a traveling Union force at Ball's Bluff, Leesburg, Virginia.



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October 21, 1861

Colonel Joseph Plummer leads a Union force to victory over the enemy at Frederickstown in Missouri.



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October 21, 1861

U.S. Army Colonel Edward Baker, a longtime and close friend of President Lincoln, is killed at Ball's Bluff, Virginia. He becomes the only sitting senator to be killed in action during the war.



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October 22, 1861

Union Colonel Joseph Plummer is promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.



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October 22, 1861

The Department of Northern Virginia is arranged with Confederate General Joseph Johnson to be its leader.



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October 24, 1861

Tennessean William Brownlow releases the final edition of the newspaper "Knoxville Whig" which has stood in support of anti-secession.



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October 31, 1861

The "Rebel Legislature" of Missouri votes to secede from the Union.



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November 1, 1861

General McClellan is named General-in-Chief of all United States military forces by President Abraham Lincoln.



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November 7, 1861

Confederate forces, including generals Leonidas Poke and Gideon Pillow, are victorious against a Union force under the command of General Grant at Belmont, Missouri.



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November 7, 1861

The Battle of Belmont is fought on Missouri soil. It marks the first major engagement for Union General Ulysses S. Grant. A force of about 5,000 Confederates square off against 3,114 Union in Mississippi County, Missouri. It is a Confederate victory but gives Grant much-needed experience in field command.



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November 8, 1861

USS San Jacinto captures the British mail steamer "Trent" en route from Havana to Europe - aboard are a pair of Confederate commissioners, James Mason and John Slidell.



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November 11, 1861

The Union ship G.W. Parke Curtis releases an observation balloon to spy on Confederate positions off the Potomac River.



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November 12, 1861

A Scottish-built merchant ship, the "Fingal", acquired in England by Confederate agents, successfully runs the Union blockade at Savannah to deliver much-needed supplies.



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November 18, 1861

At Russellville, Kentucky, some authorities gather to vote for independence. George Johnson is named its new governor.



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November 18, 1861

The Confederate Provisional Congress meets once more in Richmond, Virginia.



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November 18, 1861

Author and poet Julia Ward Howe witnesses a review of Union troops outside of Washington, D.C. inspiring her to produce a new work.



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November 19, 1861

To better meet the need for resupply and reinforcements, Confederate President Jefferson Davis implores the Congress to fund the construction of an East-West railway system.



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November 19, 1861

Julia Ward Howe pens "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". The poem is written to the song "John Brown's Body".



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November 22, 1861

Indian territories of the south are now under Confederate rule.



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November 23, 1861

Union defenders at Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island in Pensacola, Florida push back a rebel force attempting to overtake their positions.



November 25, 1861

Judah Benjamin, the Confederate Secretary of War, calls on all East Tenessee traitors to be executed where they stand.



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November 26, 1861

Dranesvill, Virginia sees a Union victory as cavalry forces from both sides go head-to-head in one of the war's smaller battles - the Battle of Dranesville.



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December 1, 1861

By this time, Union infantry numbers in Kentucky swell to 70,000 men.



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December 2, 1861

In the next meeting of the United States Congress, President Lincoln calls for a new railroad to be constructed to help in the Union war effort.



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December 2, 1861

Union fighting strength numbers some 661,000 men by this date.



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December 10, 1861

Union General Albin Shoepf's forces are run out of Somerset (Kentucky) by a Confederate force led by General Felix Zollicoffer,



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December 20, 1861

Near Dranesville, Virginia, Union forces of the Army of the Potomac (led by General Edward Ord) are victorious over General Jeb Stuart and his Confederate elements.



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December 20, 1861

Viewing Lincoln as too much a pacifist, the "Radical Republicans" of the United States Congress arrange the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.



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December 21, 1861

The Navy Medal of Honor is signed into law by President Lincoln (Public Resolution 82).



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December 26, 1861

To avoid war with Britain, Confederate-aligned commissioners captured two months earlier on the British ship "Trent" are released.



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December 28, 1861

The Battle of Sacramento is fought in Sacramento, Kentucky. 500 Confederates square off against 200 to 300 Union troops. The battle ends as a Confederate victory.



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