- January 18, 1862:
Confederate territory of Arizona formed.
- January 19, 1862:
Battle of Mill Springs.
- January 31, 1862:
President Lincoln issues General War Order No. 1, calling for all United States naval and land forces to begin a general advance by February 22.
- February 6, 1862:
Victory for General Ulysses S. Grant in Tennessee, capturing Fort Henry, and ten days later Fort Donelson. Grant earns the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.
- February 11, 1862:
Battle of Fort Donelson.
- February 15, 1862:
Ulysses S. Grant obtains the unconditional surrender of Fort Henry and Fort Donaldson in Tennessee.
- February 22, 1862:
Jefferson Davis inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America.
- March 6, 1862:
Battle of Pea Ridge.
- March 8, 1862:
CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimack) engages and destroys USS Cumberland and USS Congress.
- March 9, 1862:
Battle of USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (formerly Merrimack) at Hampton Roads, Virginia. This was the first combat between iron vessels. Naval warfare is changed forever, making wooden ships obsolete.
- March 11, 1862:
Confederates check Union amphibious forces descending the Tallahassee River at Fort Pemberton, Mississippi.
- March 18, 1862:
George W. Randolph named Confederate Secretary of War.
- March 23, 1862:
Battle of Kernstown.
- March 26, 1862:
Battle of Glorieta Pass.
- April 5, 1862:
Battle of Yorktown.
- April 6, 1862:
Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) in Tennessee. This was a bitter struggle with 13,000 Union killed and wounded and 10,000 Confederates, more men than in all previous American wars combined.
- April 12, 1862:
Great Locomotive Chase. Union spies steal a train and attempt to destroy the railroad between Atlanta and Chattanooga. Although they failed, the men were the first to receive the newly created Medal of Honor.
- April 16, 1862:
President Jefferson Davis approves Confederate conscription act.
- April 24, 1862:
Seventeen Union ships under the command of Flag Officer David Farragut move up the Mississippi River then take New Orleans.
- April 25, 1862:
New Orleans falls to federal forces.
- April 29, 1862:
Battle of Corinth.
- May 8, 1862:
Battle of McDowell.
- May 25, 1862:
First Battle of Winchester, Virginia. Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson notches a victory on his brilliant campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. Jackson, with 17,000 troops under his command, was sent to the Shenandoah to relieve pressure on the Confederate troops near Richmond, who were facing the growing force of George McClellan on the James Peninsula.
- May 31, 1862:
Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), Virginia. Confederate forces strike Union troops in the Pen insular campaign. During May 1862, the Army of the Potomac, under the command of George B. McClellan, slowly advanced up the James Peninsula after sailing down the Chesapeake Bay by boat. Confederate commander Joseph Johnston had been cautiously backing his troops up the peninsula in the face of the larger Union force, giving ground until he was in the Richmond perimeter. When the Rebels had backed up to the capital, Johnston sought an opportunity to attack McClellan and halt his advance.
That chance came when McClellan’s forces were straddling the Chickahominy River. The swampy ground around the river was difficult to maneuver, and the river was now a raging torrent from the spring rains. A major storm on May 31 threatened to cut the only bridge links between the two wings of the Union army.
Johnston attacked one of McClellan’s corps south of the river on May 31 in a promising assault. The plan called for three divisions to hammer the Federal corps from three sides, but the inexperienced Confederates were delayed and confused. By the time the attack came, McClellan had time to muster reinforcements and drive the Rebels back. A Confederate attack the next day also produced no tangible results. The Yankees lost 5,000 casualties to the Rebels’ 6,000.
But the battle had two important consequences. McClellan was horrified by the sight of his dead and wounded soldiers, and became much more cautious and timid in battle—actions that would eventually doom the campaign. And since Johnston was wounded during the battle’s first day, Robert E. Lee replaced him. Lee had been serving as Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ military advisor since his undistinguished service in western Virginia during the war’s first year. The history of the war in the eastern theater drastically changed as Lee ascended the ranks. His leadership and exploits soon became legend.
- June 1, 1862:
General Robert E. Lee assumes command, replacing the wounded Johnston. Lee then renames his force the Army of Northern Virginia.
- June 8, 1862:
Battle of Cross Keys: Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson’s notches another victory during the campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. Sent to the valley to relieve pressure on the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia, which had been pinned on the James Peninsula by Union General George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, Jackson’s force staged one of the most stunning and brilliant campaigns of the war.
Cross Keys was only a prelude to the larger Battle of Port Republic on June 9, but it was another Union failure in Jackson’s amazing 1862 Shenandoah campaign.
- June 9, 1862:
Battle of Port Republic: Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson concentrated his forces east of the South Fork of the Shenandoah against the isolated brigades of Tyler and Carroll of Shields’s division, Brig. Gen. Erastus Tyler commanding. Confederate assaults across the bottomland were repulsed with heavy casualties, but a flanking column turned the Union left flank at the Coaling. Union counterattacks failed to reestablish the line, and Tyler was forced to retreat. Confederate forces at Cross Keys marched to join Jackson at Port Republic burning the North River Bridge behind them. Frémont’s army arrived too late to assist Tyler and Carroll and watched helplessly from across the rain-swollen river. After these dual defeats at Cross Keys and Port Republic, the Union armies retreated, leaving Jackson in control of the upper and middle Shenandoah Valley and freeing his army to reinforce Lee before Richmond.
Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart begins his ride around the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsular campaign, after being sent on a reconnaissance of Union positions by Robert E. Lee.
- June 15, 1862:
Confederate cavalry commander J.E.B. Stuart completes a four-day ride around George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac in the area of the James Peninsula. Stuart had circled the entire Yankee force, 105,000 strong, and provided Lee with crucial information.
- June 16, 1862:
Battle of Secessionville.
- June 25, 1862:
Battle of Mechanicsville: Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia strikes Union General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, beginning the Seven Days’ Battles. Although the Confederates sustained heavy losses and did not succeed in decisively defeating the Yankees, the battle had unnerved McClellan. During the next week, Lee drove him from the outskirts of Richmond back to his base on the James River.
This was Lee’s first battle as commander of the army. On June 1, 1862, he had replaced Joseph Johnston, who was severely wounded at the Battle of Fair Oaks.
- June 27, 1862:
Battle of Gaines Mill, Virginia.
- June 28, 1862:
Confederates capture the St. Nicolas – A Confederate band makes a daring capture of a commercial vessel on Chesapeake Bay. The plan was the brainchild of George Hollins, a veteran of the War of 1812. Hollins joined the navy at age 15, and had a long and distinguished career. A Maryland native, he was commander of a U.S. warship in the Mediterranean when hostilities erupted in 1861, and returned to New York and resigned his commission. After a brief stop in his hometown, Baltimore, Hollins offered his services to the Confederacy and received a commission on June 21, 1861.
Soon after, Hollins met up with Richard Thomas Zarvona, a Marylander, former West Point attendee, and adventurer who had fought with pirates in China and revolutionaries in Italy. They hatched a plan to capture the St. Nicolas and use it to marshal other Yankee ships into Confederate service. Zarvona went to Baltimore and recruited a band of pirates, who boarded the St. Nicholas as paying passengers on June 28. Using the name Madame La Force, Zarvona disguised himself as a flirtatious Frenchwoman. Hollins then boarded the St. Nicholas at its first stop.
The conspirators later retreated to the Frenchwoman’s cabin, where they armed themselves and then burst out to capture the surprised crew. Hollins took control of the vessel and stopped on the Virginia bank of the Chesapeake to pick up a crew of Confederate soldiers. They planned to capture a Union gunboat, the Pawnee, but it was called away. Instead, the St. Nicholas and its pirate crew came upon a ship loaded with Brazilian coffee. Two more ships, carrying loads of ice and coal, soon fell to the St. Nicholas.
These daring exploits earned Hollins a quick promotion from captain to commodore. At the end of July, Hollins was sent to take control of a fleet at New Orleans, Louisiana. June 28 also marked the Battle of Garnett’s Farm, Virginia.
- June 29, 1862:
Battle of Savage Station, Virginia.
- June 30, 1862:
Battle of Glendale.
- July 1, 1862:
Battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia.
- July 15, 1862:
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 to reverse Rebel fortunes on the river in the summer of 1862.
Setting sail with a crew of 100 sailors and 60 soldiers and commanded by Isaac Brown, the Arkansas steamed to Vicksburg, where Farragut’s gunboats were rapidly dominating the river from New Orleans northward. At the mouth of the Yazoo River on July 15, 1862, the Arkansas engaged in a sharp exchange with the three Union ships sent to intercept the ironclad. After fighting through these ships, the Arkansas headed for the bulk of Farragut’s fleet. It then sailed through the flotilla, damaging 16 ships.
Farragut was furious that a single boat wreaked such havoc on his force. The engagement temporarily shifted Confederate fortunes on the Mississippi, but not for long. The Arkansas, pursued by the Union ironclad Essex, fled down the river and experienced mechanical problems. On August 6, the ship ran aground, and the crew blew it up to keep it from falling into Yankee hands.
- July 23, 1862:
Henry Halleck becomes General-in-Chief, U.S. Army.
- July 29, 1862:
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 was just 17 when the war began. She was from a prominent slaveholding family in Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia), in the Shenandoah Valley. In 1861, she shot and killed a Union solider for insulting her mother and threatening to search their house. Union officers investigated and decided the shooting was justified.
Soon after the shooting incident, Boyd began spying for the Confederacy. She used her charms to engage Union soldiers and officers in conversations and acquire information about Federal military affairs. Suspecting her of spying, Union officers banished Boyd further south in the Shenandoah, to Front Royal Virginia, in March 1862. Just two months later, Boyd personally delivered crucial information to General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson during his campaign in the Valley that allowed the Confederates to defeat General Nathaniel Banks’s forces at the Battle of Winchester. In another incident, Boyd turned two chivalrous Union cavalrymen who had escorted her back home across Union lines over to Confederate pickets as prisoners of war.
Boyd was detained on several occasions, and on July 29 she was placed in the Old Capitol Prison in Washington. But her incarceration was evidently of limited hardship. She was given many special considerations, and she became engaged to a fellow prisoner. Upon her release one month later, she was given a trousseau by the prison’s superintendent and shipped under a flag of truce to Richmond. Boyd was arrested again in 1863 and held for three months. After this second imprisonment, she became a courier of secret messages to Great Britain. In 1864, her ship was captured off the coast of North Carolina, and the ship and crew were taken to New York. Captain Samuel Hardinge commanded the Union ship that captured Boyd’s vessel, and the two were seen shopping together in New York. He followed her to London, and they were married soon after.
Boyd was widowed soon after the end of the war, but the union produced one child. Still just 21, Boyd parlayed her spying experiences into a book and an acting career. She died in Wisconsin in 1900.
- August 6, 1862:
Loss of C.S.S. Arkansas: The C.S.S. Arkansas, the most feared Confederate ironclad on the Mississippi River, is blown up by her crew after suffering mechanical problems during a battle with the U.S.S. Essex near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Although the Arkansas was never defeated, unreliable engines doomed the craft to an early death.
- August 8, 1862:
Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia.
- August 14, 1862:
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 Knoxville, Tennessee, on August 14 and moved toward the Cumberland Gap—the first step in the Confederate invasion of Kentucky.
- August 26, 1862:
Second Bull Run campaign begins when Confederate cavalry under General Fitzhugh Lee enter Manassas Junction and captures the rail center. Union General John Pope’s Army of Virginia was soon on its way, and the two armies would clash on August 29.
- August 29, 1862:
Confederate force commanded by General Stonewall Jackson defeated Union General John Pope and a larger Union army at the second battle of Manassas (Bull Run). General Robert E. Lee established his reputation for brilliant generalship by sending Jackson to attack the Union rear. General Pope, commanding the Union troops, attacked Jackson with full force. General Lee then threw the full Confederate army against Pope’s flank. The Confederates mauled the Union troops, and by August 30 Pope had to retreat. His army lost over 16,000 men to the Confederates’ 9,000. Pope was badly beaten and retreated to Washington where he was relieved of command.
- September 1, 1862:
Following his brilliant victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run two days earlier, Confederate General Robert E. Lee strikes retreating Union forces at Chantilly, Virginia, and drives them away in the middle of an intense thunderstorm.
Although his army routed the Yankee forces of General John Pope at Bull Run, Lee was not satisfied. By attacking the retreating Federals, Lee hoped to push them back into Washington, D.C., and achieve a decisive victory by destroying the Union army. The Bull Run battlefield lay 25 miles east of the capital, allowing Lee room to send General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson’s corps on a quick march to cut off part of the Union retreat before reaching the defenses of the capital.
Jackson departed with his corps on August 31. Using General J.E.B. Stuart’s Rebel cavalry as a screen, he swung north and then east toward Washington. Under orders of Union General-in-Chief Henry Halleck, Pope tried to hold the town of Centerville from the advancing Confederates. Jackson moved north around Centerville, placing the bulk of Pope’s force in grave danger as the Southerners moved towards Fairfax. By the afternoon of September 1, Pope evacuated Centerville and Jackson pressed to the north of the main Yankee army.
Late in the afternoon, a Union division commanded by General Isaac Stevens attacked Jackson near Chantilly. In a driving rainstorm punctuated by thunder and lightning, Stevens’s men drove into the Confederates and scattered a Louisiana brigade. But after Stevens was struck in the head by a Rebel bullet and killed, Jackson’s men drove the Union troops back. Another Yankee general, Philip Kearney, was killed when he accidentally rode behind the Confederate line in the storm.
The battle was over within 90 minutes, although the storm persisted. Confederate casualties numbered about 500, while the Union lost 700. Lee could not flank Pope’s army, so he turned his army northward for an invasion of Maryland. The result was the Battle of Antietam on September 17.
- September 4, 1862:
Lee invades the North with 50,000 Confederates and heads for Harpers Ferry, 50 miles northwest of Washington. The Union Army, 90,000 strong, under the command of McClellan, pursues Lee.
- September 12, 1862:
Battle of Harper’s Ferry.
- September 14, 1862:
Battle of South Mountain.
- September 15, 1862:
Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson captures Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and 12,000 Union soldiers as General Robert E. Lee’s army moves north into Maryland.
The Yankees surrendered 73 artillery pieces, 13,000 rifles, and 12,500 men at Harpers Ferry. It was the largest single Union surrender of the war.
- September 17, 1862:
Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam): Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Union General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac fight to a standstill along a Maryland creek on the bloodiest day in American history. The losses for the one-day battle were staggering. McClellan lost a total of 12,401 men, including 2,108 dead, 9,540 wounded, and 753 missing. Lee lost 10,406, including 1,546 dead, 7,752 wounded, and 1,108 missing.
Although the battle was a tactical draw, it forced Lee to end his invasion of the North and retreat back to Virginia.
- September 23, 1862:
Battle of Wood Lake.
- October 8, 1862:
Battle of Perryville, Kentucky.
- October 22, 1862:
Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas.
- December 7, 1862:
Battle of Prairie Grove.
- December 13, 1862:
Fredericksburg, Va., Union troops under Gen. Ambrose Burnside were repulsed in their efforts to reach Richmond by the forces of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and James Longstreet. It was a major Union defeat, with more than 12,000 Union casualities. Confederate losses were 5,309.
- December 26, 1862:
Battle of Chickasaw Bayou.
- December 31, 1862:
Battle of Murfreesboro (Stone’s River), Tennessee.