Civil War - HISTORY

Civil War

Winfield Scott steps down

Citing failing health, General Winfield Scott, commander of the Union forces, retires from service on this day in 1861. The hero of the Mexican War recognized early in the Civil War that his health and advancing years were a liability in the daunting task of directing the Federal ...read more

Battle of Darbytown Road (Johnson’s Farm)

A Confederate attempt to regain ground that had been lost around Richmond, Virginia,is thwarted when Union troops turn back General Robert E. Lee’s assault at the Battle ofDarbytown.In the summer of 1864, the campaign between Lee and Union General Ulysses S. Grant ground to a ...read more

Lincoln dies from an assassin’s bullet

President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, dies from an assassin’s bullet. Shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington the night before, Lincoln lived for nine hours before succumbing to the severe head wound he sustained.Lincoln’s death ...read more

Battle of Hatcher’s Run (Burgess Mill)

On this day in 1864, at the First Battle of Hatcher’s Run (also known as the Battle of Boydton Plank Road), Virginia, Union troops are turned back when they try to cut the last railroad supplying the Confederate force in Petersburg, Virginia.Since June of that year, Union General ...read more

Dakota uprising begins in Minnesota

Minnesota erupts in violence as desperate Dakota Indians attack white settlements along the Minnesota River. The Dakota were eventually overwhelmed by the U.S. military six weeks later.The Dakota Indians were more commonly referred to as the Sioux, a derogatory name derived from ...read more

Battle of Dabney’s Mill (Hatcher’s Run)

On this day in 1865, at the Battle of Dabney’s Mill (also known as Hatcher’s Run), Union and Confederate forces around Petersburg, Virginia, begin a three-day battle that produces 3,000 casualties but ends with no significant advantage for either side.Dabney’s Mill was another ...read more

Grant moves on Jackson, Mississippi

Union General Ulysses S. Grant advances toward the Mississippi capital of Jackson during his bold and daring drive to take Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. In April, Grant had moved his troops down the Mississippi River and around the Vicksburg ...read more

Grant leaves the Wilderness for Spotsylvania

Following two days of intense fighting in Virginia’s Wilderness forest, the Army of the Potomac, under the command of Union General Ulysses S. Grant, moves south. Grant’s forces had clashed with Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in a pitched and ...read more

Grant expels the Jews from his department

On this day in 1862, Union General Ulysses S. Grant lashes out at at Jewish cotton speculators, who he believed were the driving force behind the black market for cotton, and issues an order expellingall Jewish people from his military district, which encompassed parts of ...read more

Confederate General George Steuart is born

Confederate General George Hume “Maryland” Steuart is born in Baltimore, Maryland.Steuart attended West Point and graduated in 1844. He served in various capacities in Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska, and he was part of General Albert S. Johnston’s expedition against the Mormons in ...read more

George Custer married

On this day in 1864, Union General George Armstrong Custer marries Elizabeth Bacon in Monroe, Michigan, while the young cavalry officer is on leave. “Libbie,” as she was known to her family, was a tireless defender of her husband’s reputation after his death at the Battle of the ...read more

General Kilpatrick is promoted

On this day in 1865, General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick is promoted to major general in the Union Army. Kilpatrick served in both the Eastern and Western theaters of war and earned a reputation as a fearless and, many would say, reckless leader.Kilpatrick was born in New Jersey in ...read more

General Gracie killed at Petersburg

On this day in 1864, Confederate General Archibald Gracie Jr. is killed in the trenches at Petersburg, Virginia, when an artillery shell explodes near him. Gracie was born in New York City in 1832 (his grandfather built Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor of New ...read more

Fremont removed from Western Department

On this day in 1861, controversial Union General John C. Fremont is relieved of command in the Western Department and replaced by David Hunter.Fremont was one of the most prominent Union generals at the start of the war. Born in Georgia and raised in South Carolina, he joined the ...read more

Francis Preston Blair, Jr., born

On this day in 1821, Union General Francis Preston Blair Jr. is born in Lexington, Kentucky. The colorful Blair was instrumental in keeping Missouri part of the Union during the early stages of the Civil War.Blair’s father served as an advisor to several presidents. His namesake ...read more

Federals occupy Fredericksburg

On this day in 1862, the Union Army of the Potomac occupies Fredericksburg, Virginia, as General Ambrose Burnside continues to execute his plan to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia.However, the occupation did not happen until three weeks after Burnside’s army ...read more

Engagement ends at Waynesboro

On this day in 1864, eight days of cavalry clashes in Georgia come to an end when Union General Judson Kilpatrick and Confederate General Joseph Wheeler skirmish for a final time at Waynesboro. Although the Rebels inflicted more than three times as many casualties as the Yankees, ...read more

Edward A. Perry born

On this day in 1831, Confederate General Edward Aylesworth Perry is born in Richmond, Massachusetts. The transplanted Yankee led a Florida brigade during the Civil War, and served as governor of the state after the war.Perry received his education at Lee Academy in Massachusetts ...read more

Draft riots continue to rock New York City

The draft riots enter their fourth day in New York City in response to the Enrollment Act, which was enacted on March 3, 1863. Although avoiding military service became much more difficult, wealthier citizens could still pay a commutation fee of $300 to stay at home. Irritation ...read more

Deep Bottom Run campaign begins

Sensing a weakness in the Confederate defenses around Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia, Union General Ulysses S. Grant seeks to break the siege of Petersburg by concentrating his force against one section of the Rebel trenches. However, Grant miscalculated, and the week-long ...read more

Davis learns he is president

On this day in 1861, Jefferson Davis, a former U.S. senator from Mississippi who served as U.S. secretary of war in the 1850s,receives word he has been selected president of the new Confederate States of America. Delegates atthe Confederacy’s constitutional convention in ...read more

Confederates evacuate Fort Pillow

Confederate forces slip out of Fort Pillow, Tennessee, a key stronghold on the Mississippi River, clearing the way for the Union capture of Memphis.Fort Pillow lay south of Island No. 10, the Confederates’ key defense from a Northern assault. Although considered a backup to ...read more

Confederates capture commercial ship

On this day in 1862, a Confederate band makes a daring capture of a commercial vessel on Chesapeake Bay. The plan was the brainchild of George Hollins, a Maryland native and veteran of the War of 1812, who joined the U.S. Navy at age 15 and had a long and distinguished career. ...read more

Confederate invasion of Kentucky begins

Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith begins an invasion of Kentucky as part of a Confederate plan to draw the Yankee army of General Don Carlos Buell away from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to raise support for the Southern cause in Kentucky.Smith led 10,000 troops out of ...read more

Confederate General John Chambliss is killed

On this day in 1864, Confederate General John Chambliss is killed during a cavalry charge at Deep Bottom, Virginia, one of the sieges of Petersburg.Union General Ulysses S. Grant had bottled the army of Confederate General Robert E. Lee behind a perimeter that stretched from ...read more

Capture of Fort Donelson

On this day in 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant finishes a spectacular campaign by capturing Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in Tennessee. This battle came10 days after Grant’s capture of Fort Henry, just10 miles to the west on the Tennessee River, and opened the way for ...read more

Rebels begin Cheat Mountain campaign

Confederate troops under General Robert E. Lee move into position against a Union stronghold on Cheat Mountain in western Virginia, only to retreat three days later without firing a shot.The first few months of the war in western Virginia did not go well for the Confederates. The ...read more

Caleb Blood Smith dies

On this day in 1864, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Caleb Blood Smith, who served from 1861 to 1862, dies in Indianapolis.Smith played a major role in managing relations with Native Americans during the Civil War.Smith was born in Boston in 1808 and raised in Cincinnati. ...read more

CSS Shenandoah learns the war is over

The captain and crew of the C.S.S. Shenandoah, still prowling the waters of the Pacific in search of Yankee whaling ships, is finally informed by a British vessel that the South has lost the war.The Shenandoah was the last major Confederate cruiser to set sail. Launched as a ...read more

CSS Arkansas attacks Union ships

The CSS Arkansas, the most effective ironclad on the Mississippi River, battles with Union ships commanded by Admiral David Farragut, severely damaging three ships and sustaining heavy damage herself. The encounter changed the complexion of warfare on the Mississippi and helped ...read more

Burnside relieved of command

On this day in 1863,Union General Ambrose Burnside is removed as commander of the Army of the Potomac after serving in the role for two months.Burnside assumed command of the army after President Abraham Lincoln removed General George B. McClellan from command in November 1862. ...read more

Richmond riots over food shortages

Responding to acute food shortages, hundreds of angry women riot in Richmond, Virginia, demanding that the government release emergency supplies. For several hours, the mob moved through the city, breaking windows and looting stores, before Confederate President Jefferson Davis ...read more

Bombardment of Fort Fisher begins

On this day in 1864,a Union fleet under Admiral David Dixon Porter begins a bombardment of Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Although an impressive display of firepower, the attack failed to destroy the fort; a ground attack the next day did not succeed either.Fort Fisher guarded the ...read more

Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss born

On this day in 1819, Union General Benjamin Prentiss is born in Belleville, Virginia. Prentiss served in a variety of capacities during the war but is best known for defending Arkansas during the Vicksburg campaign.Prentiss was raised in Missouri and moved to Quincy, Illinois, as ...read more

Confederate spy Belle Boyd is captured

Confederate spy Marie Isabella “Belle” Boyd is arrested by Union troops and detained at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. It was the first of three arrests for this skilled spy who provided crucial information to the Confederates during the war.The Virginian-born Boyd ...read more