The Civil War

Updated June 26, 2019 | Infoplease Staff

Apart from the matter of slavery, the Civil War arose out of both the economic and political rivalry between an agrarian South and an industrial North and the issue of the right of states to secede from the Union.

After South Carolina secedes (Dec. 20, 1860), Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas follow, forming the Confederate States of America, with Jefferson Davis as president (Jan.–March). War begins as Confederates fire on Fort Sumter (April 12). Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers. Southern ports blockaded by superior Union naval forces. Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina secede to complete 11-state Confederacy. Union army advancing on Richmond repulsed at first Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) (July).
Edwin M. Stanton named secretary of war (Jan.). Grant wins first important Union victory in West, at Fort Donelson; Nashville falls (Feb.). Ironclads, Union's Monitor and Confederate's Virginia (Merrimac) duel at Hampton Roads (March). New Orleans falls to Union fleet under Farragut; city occupied (April). Grant's army escapes defeat at Shiloh. Memphis falls as Union gunboats control upper Mississippi (June). Confederate general Robert E. Lee victorious at second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) (Aug.). Union army under McClellan halts Lee's attack on Washington in the Battle of Antietam (Sept.). Lincoln removes McClellan for lack of aggressiveness. Burnside's drive on Richmond fails at Fredericksburg (Dec.). Union forces under Rosecrans chase Bragg through Tennessee; battle of Murfreesboro (Oct.–Jan. 1863).
Lee defeats Hooker at Chancellorsville; “Stonewall” Jackson, Confederate general, dies (May). Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania stopped at Gettysburg by George Meade—Lee loses 20,000 men—the greatest battle of the war (July). That and the Union victory at Vicksburg mark the war's turning point. Union general George H. Thomas, the “Rock of Chickamauga,” holds Bragg's forces on Georgia-Tennessee border (Sept.). Sherman, Hooker, and Thomas drive Bragg back to Georgia. Tennessee restored to the Union (Nov.).
Ulysses S. Grant named commander-in-chief of Union forces (March). In the Wilderness campaign, Grant forces Lee's Army of Northern Virginia back toward Richmond (May–June). Sherman's Atlanta campaign and “march to the sea” (May–Sept.). Farragut's victory at Mobile Bay (Aug.). Hood's Confederate army defeated at Nashville. Sherman takes Savannah (Dec.).
Sheridan defeats Confederates at Five Forks; Confederates evacuate Richmond (April). On April 9, Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox.

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