A Year In History: 1864

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This Year in History:

1864

Discover what happened in this year with HISTORY’s summaries of major events, anniversaries, famous births and notable deaths.

February 20

Battle of Olustee

On February 20, 1864, at the Battle of Olustee, the largest conflict fought in Florida during the Civil War, a Confederate force under General Joseph Finegan decisively defeats an army commanded by General Truman Seymour. The victory kept the Confederates in control of Florida’s interior for the rest of the war. Olustee was the climax […]

February 24

Union inmates begin arriving at deadly Andersonville prison

On February 24, 1864, the first Union inmates begin arriving at Andersonville prison, which was still under construction in southern Georgia. Andersonville became synonymous with death as nearly a quarter of its inmates died in captivity. Henry Wirz, who ran Andersonville, was executed after the war for the brutality and mistreatment committed under his command. […]

March 1

Rebecca Lee Crumpler becomes first Black woman to earn a medical degree

On March 1, 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler becomes the first African American woman to earn a medical degree. For much of her career she practiced community medicine in Boston, but in the aftermath of the Civil War she traveled south to treat thousands of formerly enslaved refugees. Crumpler wrote one of the first medical manuals […]

March 10

President Lincoln signs Ulysses S. Grant’s commission to command the U.S. Army

On March 10, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signs a brief document officially promoting then-Major General Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of lieutenant general of the U.S. Army, tasking the future president with the job of leading all Union troops against the Confederate Army. The rank of lieutenant general had not officially been used since […]

April 12

Hundreds of Union soldiers killed in Fort Pillow Massacre

During the American Civil War, Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederate raiders attack the isolated Union garrison at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, overlooking the Mississippi River. The fort, an important part of the Confederate river defense system, was captured by federal forces in 1862. Of the 500-strong Union garrison defending the fort, more than half the […]

May 8

General Lee’s army beats Grant’s Union troops to Spotsylvania

On May 8, 1864, Yankee troops arrive at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, to find the Rebels already there. After the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5-6), Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac marched south in the drive to take Richmond. Grant hoped to control the strategic crossroads at Spotsylvania Court House, so he could […]

May 11

Confederate Cavalry General J.E.B. Stuart is mortally wounded

A dismounted Union trooper fatally wounds J.E.B. Stuart, one of the most well-known generals of the South, at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, just six miles north of Richmond, Virginia. The 31-year-old Stuart died the next day. During the 1864 spring campaign in Virginia, Union General Ulysses S. Grant applied constant pressure on Robert E. […]

May 19

President Lincoln proposes equal treatment of soldiers’ dependents

President Abraham Lincoln writes to anti-slavery Congressional leader Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on May 19, 1864, proposing that widows and children of soldiers should be given equal treatment regardless of race. Lincoln shared many of his friend Sumner’s views on civil rights. In an unprecedented move, Lincoln allowed a Black woman, the widow of […]

June 22

Confederates strike back in the Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road

On June 22, 1864, Union forces attempt to capture a railroad that had been supplying Petersburg, Virginia, from the south, and extend their lines to the Appomattox River. In the Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road, the Confederates thwarted the attempt, and the two sides settled into trenches for a nine-month siege. The struggle for Petersburg […]

June 27

Colorado governor orders ‘friendly Indians’ to report to Army forts for sanctuary

On June 27, 1864, Colorado Governor John Evans issues a proclamation warning that all peaceful Native Americans in the region must report to the or risk being attacked, creating the conditions that will lead to the Sand Creek Massacre. Evans’ offer of sanctuary was at best halfhearted. His primary goal in 1864 was to eliminate all […]

July 22

Battle of Atlanta

In the one-day Battle of Atlanta, the largest battle of the Atlanta Campaign, Confederate General John Bell Hood continues to try to drive General William T. Sherman from the outskirts of the city when he attacks the Yankees on Bald Hill. The attack failed, and Sherman tightened his hold on Atlanta. Confederate President Jefferson Davis […]

August 1

Philip Sheridan takes command of Army of the Shenandoah

Union General Ulysses S. Grant appoints General Philip Sheridan commander of the Army of the Shenandoah. Within a few months, Sheridan drove a Confederate force from the Shenandoah Valley and destroyed nearly all possible sources of Rebel supplies, helping to seal the fate of the Confederacy. In the summer of 1864, Confederate General Robert E. […]