Time Line of The War For Southern Independence, 1860-61

  • November 6, 1860:
     Abraham Lincoln elected President of the United States.

  • December 17, 1860:
    South Carolina Convention meets in Columbia to discuss secession and adjourns to reconvene in Charleston the following day.

  • December 20, 1860:
    South Carolina secedes from the Union.

  • January 4, 1861:
    Alabama state troops seize the U.S. Arsenal at Mount Vernon, Alabama.

  • January 5, 1861:
    U.S. Senators from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Florida meet in Washington, D.C. to discuss secession.

  • January 6, 1861:
    The state of Florida takes over the Apalachicola Arsenal.

  • January 7, 1861:
    Mississippi and Alabama State Conventions meet to discuss secession.

  • January 9, 1861:
    Mississippi secedes from the Union. Star of the West fails to relieve Fort Sumter and land supplies (fired upon by cadets from the Citadel).

  • January 10, 1861:
    Florida secedes from the Union.

  • January 11, 1861:
    Alabama secedes from the Union.

  • January 16, 1861:
    Crittendon Compromise killed in the U.S. Senate.

  • January 19, 1861:
    Georgia secedes from the Union.

  • January 24, 1861:
    Georgia state troops take over the U.S. Arsenal at Augusta.

  • January 26, 1861:
    Louisiana secedes from the Union.

  • February 1, 1861:
    Texas secedes from the Union.

  • February 2, 1861:
     Confederate States of America formed at Montgomery, Alabama.

  • February 4, 1861:
    Delegates from seceded states meet in Montgomery, Alabama to establish the Confederate government.

  • February 8, 1861:
    The convention of seceded states adopts a provisional constitution.

  • February 9, 1861:
    Jefferson Davis elected provisional President of the Confederate States of America with Alexander Stephens as provisional Vice President.

  • February 12, 1861:
    Provisional Confederate Congress establishes Peace Commission to prevent war with the United States.

  • February 16, 1861:
    Provisional Confederate President Jefferson Davis arrives in Montgomery, Alabama.

  • February 16, 1861:
    Texas state troops seized the U.S. Arsenal at San Antonio.

  • February 18, 1861:
    Jefferson Davis inaugurated as provisional President of the Confederate States of America.

  • February 19, 1861:
    Louisiana State troops seize the U.S. paymaster’s office in New Orleans.

  • March 4, 1861:
     Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as President of the United States.

  • March 11, 1861:
    In Montgomery, Alabama, delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas adopt the Permanent Constitution of the Confederate States of America.

  • March 12, 1861:
    Three Confederate commissioners, who had come to Washington seeking negotiations toward a peaceable separation, addressed Secretary of State William Seward with an official letter of intent. Seward, speaking only through Supreme Court Justice John A. Campbell, assured the Confederate commissioners that the Union troops in Fort Sumter in Charleston and Fort Pickens in Pensacola would not be sent supplies without due notification and led them to expect that the forts would be evacuated in a few days. As the commissioners were departing for home, they learned that supplies and military reinforcements were already assembled and ready to depart the port of New York for Fort Sumter.

  • March 22, 1861:
     Engagement at Blue Springs, Missouri.

  • April 5, 1861:
    The authorities at Charleston were informed that an unarmed supply ship was to be sent to Fort Sumter. Fearing that the Federal fleet would enter the harbor, they signaled their intent to fire upon the ship should it enter the harbor, but the United States sent the ship anyway. The ship was reported off Charleston on April 10, 1861. In response to the presence of the ship, the Southern military in Charleston prepared to attack the Fort, anticipating the use of force by the Federal fleet to send reinforcements to the fort.

  • April 12, 1861:
    Fort Sumter, South Carolina is shelled by the Confederacy. The war begins.

  • April 13, 1861:
     The Federal garrison at Fort Sumter surrenders.

  • April 14, 1861:
     President Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion.

  • April 17, 1861:
    Virginia secedes from the Union.

  • April 19, 1861:
    President Lincoln declares a blockade of the ports of the Confederate States from South Carolina to Texas. For the duration of the war, the blockade limits the ability of the rural South to stay well supplied in its war against the Industrialized North.

  • April 20, 1861:
    Federals evacuate Norfolk, Virginia and Gosport Navy Yard. Robert E. Lee resigns from the United States Army

  • April 22, 1861:
    Robert E. Lee nominated and confirmed as commander of Virginia forces.

  • May 6, 1861:
     Arkansas secedes from the Union; the ninth state to secede.

  • May 13, 1861:
    Union troops occupy Baltimore. Great Britain declares its neutrality in the War For Southern Independence.

  • May 16, 1861:
    Tennessee officially admitted to the Confederacy.

  • May 16, 1861:
    The Confederate government offered a $10 bonus for volunteers.

  • May 18, 1861:
    Arkansas admitted to the Confederate States of America.

  • May 21, 1861:
     North Carolina secedes from the Union.

  • June 10, 1861:
     Battle of Big Bethel

  • July 4, 1861:
     Lincoln, in a speech to Congress, states the war is…"a People’s contest…a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men…" The Congress authorizes a call for 500,000 men.

  • July 11, 1861:
     Battle of Rich Mountain

  • July 21, 1861:
    First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run): The war erupts on a large scale in the east when Confederate forces under P. T. Beauregard turn back Union General Irvin McDowell’s troops along Bull Run in Virginia. The inexperienced soldiers on both sides slugged it out in a chaotic battle that resulted in a humiliating retreat by the Yankees and signaled, for many, the true start of the war. General Thomas J. Jackson earns the nickname "Stonewall" as his brigade resists Union atacks. Union troops fall back to Washington. President Lincoln realizes the war will be long.

  • July 27, 1861:
     President Lincoln appoints George B. McClellan as Commander of the Department of the Potomac, replacing McDowell.

  • August 1, 1861:
    Captain John Baylor claims most of the territories of Arizona and New Mexico for the Confederacy after he routs a Union force at Fort Fillmore in southern New Mexico.

  • August 10, 1861:
     Battle of Wilson’s Creek.

  • August 20, 1861:
     George McClellan assumes command of the Potomac.

  • September 11, 1861:
     President Lincoln revokes General John C. Fremont’s unauthorized military proclamation of emancipation in Missouri. Later, the president relieves General Fremont of his command and replaces him with General David Hunter.

  • November 1, 1861:
     George McClellan becomes General-In-Chief, U.S. Army.

  • November 8, 1861:
     British steamer Trent is stopped and boarded while upon high seas. Confederate emissaries are removed. This international incident threatens to bring Great Britain into the war. Lincoln determines "one war at a time."

  • November 28, 1861:
    Missouri, though it did not officially secede from the Union, is admitted to the Confederacy.