Time Line of The War For Southern Independence, 1865 – Present

  • January 12, 1865:
    Francis Preston Blair, Sr., attempted, unsuccessfully, to negotiate peace with Jefferson Davis NEVER SURRENDER! LONG LIVE DIXIE!

  • January 15, 1865:
    Fort Fisher at Wilmington, North Carolina, falls, leaving the Confederacy with no open seaports. The damage was heavy on both sides: the Union suffered more than 900 Army casualties and 380 Navy casualties, and the Confederates suffered 500 killed or wounded and over 1,000 captured. After the loss of this last major Confederate port, it was only three months before the war concluded.

  • January 17, 1865:
    Sherman’s army is rained in at Savannah, Georgia as they are preparing their march into the Carolinas. His army had marched across Georgia since fall, destroying everything in their path. Sherman’s plan was to subject North and South Carolina to the same treatment.

  • January 31, 1865:
    Robert Edward Lee named General-in-Chief of all Confederate armies. The U.S. Congress approved the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, to abolish slavery. The amendment was then submitted to the states for ratification.

  • February 1, 1865:
    William T. Sherman’s troops cross into South Carolina.

  • February 2, 1865:
    Battle of Sand Creek.

  • February 3, 1865:
    President Lincoln meets with Confederate vice-president Alexander Stephens to discuss peace terms. After less than five hours, the conference ended and the delegation left with no concessions. The war continued for more than two months. Only Lee’s Army at Petersburg and Johnston’s forces in North Carolina remain to fight for the South against Northern forces now numbering 280,000 men.

  • February 5, 1865:
    Battle of Dabney’s Mill (Hatcher’s Run). Union and Confederate forces around Petersburg, Virginia began a battle that produced 3,000 casualties, but ended with no advantage for either side.

  • February 6, 1865:
    John C. Breckinridge named Confederate Secretary of War. Confederate General John Pegram was killed at the Battle of Dabney’s Mill.

  • February 17, 1865:
    Columbia, South Carolina, falls to Sherman’s troops; most of the city is burned.

  • February 22, 1865:
    Joseph E. Johnston placed in command of Confederate forces opposing Sherman’s march through the Carolinas.

  • March 2, 1865:
    Battle of Waynesboro, Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley was the scene of many battles and skirmishes during the Civil War. It was located directly in the path of armies invading from the south–as Confederate General Robert E. Lee did during the 1863 Gettysburg campaign-and the north. The fertile valley could sustain armies, and the gentle terrain allowed for rapid troop movement. In 1862, Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson staged a brilliant campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, defeating three Yankee armies with quick marching and bold attacks.

  • March 4, 1865:
    President Lincoln is inaugurated to his second term.

  • March 5, 1865:
    Confederate government orders every vessel to give half its freight capacity to government shipments.

  • March 9, 1865:
    Union General Sherman’s "army group" occupies Fayetteville, North Carolina.

  • March 13, 1865:
    Jefferson Davis signs law authorizing black men to serve as soldiers in the Confederate Army.

  • March 16, 1865:
    Battle of Averasboro, North Carolina. The Yankees lost 95 men killed, 533 wounded, and 54 missing, while the Confederates lost about 865 total. The battle did little to slow the march of Sherman’s army.

  • March 18, 1865:
    Confederate Congress adjourns

  • March 21, 1865:
    Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina. Confederate General Joseph Johnston made a desperate attempt to stop Union General William T. Sherman’s drive through the Carolinas in the war’s last days, but Johnston’s army could not stop the advance of Sherman’s army. The Union lost 194 men killed, 1,112 wounded, and 221 missing, while the Confederates lost 240 killed, 1,700 wounded, and 1,500 missing.

  • March 25, 1865:
    Battle of Fort Steadman, Virginia. The last offensive for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia begins with an attack on the center of Grant’s forces at Petersburg. Four hours later, the attack is broken.

  • March 27, 1865:
    President Lincoln confers with Generals Grant, Sherman, and Admiral Porter at City Point, Virginia, regarding war plans.

  • March 29, 1865:
    Appomattox Campaign begins. The final campaign of the war began in Virginia when Union troops of General Ulysses S. Grant moved against the Confederate trenches around Petersburg. General Robert E. Lee’s outnumbered Rebels were soon forced to evacuate the city and begin a desperate race west.

  • April 1, 1865:
    Battle of Fort Forks, Virginia. Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s supply line into Petersburg, Virginia, is closed when Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant collapse the end of Lee’s lines around Petersburg. The Confederates suffer heavy casualties, and the battle triggered Lee’s retreat from Petersburg as the two armies began a race that would end a week later at Appomattox Court House.

  • April 2, 1865:
    Confederate lines at Petersburg breached and Fort Gregg stormed. Selma, Alabama assailed and captured. Confederate Government evacuates Richmond, Virginia because the Union army was about to take control of the city. Confederate President Jefferson Davis flees south. Fires and looting break out in Richmond. Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill was killed while riding to the front to rally his troops.

  • April 3, 1865:
    Union forces occupied the Confederate Capital of Richmond, Virginia. Petersburg, Virginia occupied by Federals.

  • April 4, 1865:
    President Lincoln tours Richmond, one day after it was captured by the Union.

  • April 5, 1865:
    Battle of Five Forks.

  • April 6, 1865:
    Battle of Sayler’s Creek, Virginia. Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia fights its last major battle as it retreats westward from Richmond. Lee’s army tried to hold off the pursuing Yankees of General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac. In fierce hand-to-hand fighting around Sayler’s Creek, the Yankees captured 1,700 Confederate troops and 300 supply wagons.

  • April 7, 1865:
    General Grant inquires about General Lee’s intentions regarding the surrender of the Confederate army. Battle of Cumberland Church.

  • April 9, 1865:
    Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. U.S. Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse, virtually ending the War For Southern Independence. The surrender site has been made a national historical park. Although there were still Confederate armies in the field, the war was officially over. Four years of bloodshed had left a devastating mark on the country: 360,000 Union and 260,000 Confederate soldiers had perished during the Civil War.

  • April 10, 1865:
    General Robert E. Lee addressed his army for the last time. This closed the book on one of the most remarkable armies in history.

  • April 12, 1865:
    Army of Northern Virginia formally surrenders. The last major Confederate port city falls when Mobile, Alabama, surrenders to Union troops.

  • April 14, 1865:
    United States flag raised over Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Abraham Lincoln is assassinated while attending Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., shot by John Wilkes Booth.

  • April 15, 1865:
    President Abraham Lincoln dies at 7:22 in the morning. Vice President Andrew Johnson assumes the presidency.

  • April 18, 1865:
    Union General William T. Sherman and Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston sign armistice memorandum at Durham Station, North Carolina.

  • April 19, 1865:
    Funeral of Abraham Lincoln.

  • April 23, 1865:
    Confederate President Jefferson Davis writes to his wife, Varina, of the desperate situating facing the Confederates.

    "Panic has seized the country," he wrote to his wife in Georgia. Davis was in Charlotte, North Carolina, on his flight away from Yankee troops. It was three weeks since Davis had fled the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, as Union troops were overrunning the trenches nearby. Davis and his government headed west to Danville, Virginia, in hopes of reestablishing offices there. When General Robert E. Lee was forced to surrender his army at Appomattox Court House on April 9, Davis and his officials traveled south in hopes of connecting with the last major Confederate army, the force of General Joseph Johnston. Johnston, then in North Carolina, was himself in dire straits, as General William T. Sherman’s massive force was bearing down.

    Davis continued to his wife, "The issue is one which it is very painful for me to meet. On one hand is the long night of oppression which will follow the return of our people to the ‘Union’; on the other, the suffering of the women and children, and carnage among the few brave patriots who would still oppose the invader." The Davis’ were reunited a few days later as the president continued to flee and continue the fight. Two weeks later, Union troops finally captured the Confederate president in northern Georgia.

  • April 26, 1865:
    John Wilkes Booth, the accused assassin of President Lincoln, is shot and killed. Joe Johnston surrenders the Army of Tennesseee.

  • April 27, 1865:
    Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrenders forces under his command to General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina.

    The steamboat Sultana explodes on the Mississippi River near Memphis, killing 1,700 passengers including many discharged Union soldiers.

    The Sultana was launched from Cincinnati in 1863. The boat was 260 feet long and had an authorized capacity of 376 passengers and crew. It was soon employed to carry troops and supplies along the lower Mississippi River.

    The Sultana left New Orleans on April 21 with 100 passengers. It stopped at Vicksburg, Mississippi, for repair of a leaky boiler. R. G. Taylor, the boilermaker on the ship, advised Captain J. Cass Mason that two sheets on the boiler had to be replaced, but Mason order Taylor to simply patch the plates until the ship reached St. Louis. Mason was part owner of the riverboat, and he and the other owners were anxious to pick up discharged Union prisoners at Vicksburg. The federal government promised to pay $5 for each enlisted man and $10 for each officer delivered to the North. Such a contract could pay huge dividends, and Mason convinced local military authorities to pick up the entire contingent despite the presence of two other steamboats at Vicksburg.

    When the Sultana left Vicksburg, it carried 2,100 troops and 200 civilians, more than six times its capacity. On the evening of April 26, the ship stopped at Memphis before cruising across the river to pick up coal in Arkansas. As it steamed up the river above Memphis, a thunderous explosion tore through the boat. Metal and steam from the boilers killed hundreds, and hundreds more were thrown from the boat into the chilly waters of the river. The Mississippi was already at flood stage, and the "Sultana" had only one lifeboat and a few life preservers. Only 600 people survived the explosion. A board of inquiry later determined the cause to be insufficient water in the boiler–overcrowding was not listed as a cause. The Sultana accident is still the largest maritime disaster in U.S. history.

  • May 2, 1865:
    A $100,000 reward offered for the arrest of Jefferson Davis.

  • May 10, 1865:
    After the collapse (Conquest) of the Confederate government, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured in Irwinsville, Georgia by Union forces.

  • May 23, 1865:
    Grand parade of the Federal armies in Washington, D.C.

  • May 26, 1865:
    Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Confederate Trans-Mississippi division, surrendered. When the Confederate forces under Robert E. Lee and Joseph Johnston surrendered in the spring of 1865, Smith continued to resist with his small army in Texas. He insisted that Lee and Johnston were prisoners of war and decried Confederate deserters of the cause. He was the last surviving full Confederate general until his death in 1893.

  • May 29, 1865:
    President Andrew Johnson issues general amnesty for all Confederates.

  • June 2, 1865:
    In an event that is generally regarded as marking the end of the War For Southern Independence, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi, signs the surrender terms offered by Union negotiators. With Smith’s surrender, the last Confederate army ceased to exist, bringing a formal end to the bloodiest four years in U.S. history. The Confederacy was defeated at the total cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate dead. 50,000 soldiers returned home as amputees.

  • June 24, 1863:
    The last Confederate General to surrender was General Chief Stand Watie at Doaksville, Indian Territory.

  • August 2, 1865:
    C.S.S. 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 British vessel in September 1863, it was purchased by the Confederates and commissioned in October 1864. The 230-foot-long craft was armed with eight large guns and a crew of 73 sailors. Commanded by Captain James I. Waddell, the Shenandoah steered toward the Pacific and targeted Yankee whaling ships. Waddell enjoyed great success, taking six ships in the South Pacific before slipping into Melbourne, Australia, for repairs in January 1865.

    Within a month, the Shenandoah was back on the loose, wreaking havoc in the waters around Alaska. The Rebel ship captured 32 additional Union vessels, most of which were burned. The damage was estimated at $1.6 million, a staggering figure in such a short period of time. Although the crew heard rumors that the Confederate armies had surrendered, Waddell continued to fight. He finally accepted an English captain’s report on August 2, 1865. The Shenandoah pulled off another remarkable feat by sailing from the northern Pacific all the way to Liverpool, England, without stopping at any ports. Arriving on November 6, Waddell surrendered his ship to British officials.


  • April 2, 1866:
    U.S. President Andrew Johnson declares war to be over.

  • July 24. 1866:
    Tennessee became the first state readmitted to the Union.

  • August 1866:
    President Andrew Johnson proclaims, "…said insurrection is at an end."


  • October 12, 1870:
    Robert E. Lee dies General Robert Edward Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, dies peacefully at his home in Lexington, Virginia. He was 63 years old.

    Lee was born to Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee and Ann Carter Lee at Stratford Hall, Virginia, in 1807. His father served in the American Revolution under George Washington. Lee attended West Point and graduated second in his class in 1829. He did not earn a single demerit during his four years at the academy.

    Lee sided with the Confederacy and spent the first year of the war as an advisor to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia when Joseph Johnston was wounded in battle in May 1862. Over the next three years, Lee earned a reputation as one of the greatest military leaders in history for his use of brilliant tactics and battlefield leadership. His invasions of the north, at Antietam and Gettysburg, however, ended in defeat.

    After Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox in 1865, he returned to Richmond and an uncertain future. With his military career over, he accepted the presidency of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. Under his leadership, the struggling institution’s enrollment increased from a few dozen to more than 300 students. He contributed to faculty stability, revamped the curriculum, and improved the physical condition of the campus. He also became a symbol of the defeated South, a dignified and stoic figure who was lionized by North and South alike. He suffered a stroke on September 28, 1870, and lingered for two weeks before passing. The school changed its name to Washington and Lee College soon after he died.


  • April 24, 1877:
    The last Federal occupation troops withdrew from the South, officially ending Reconstruction after the War For Southern Independence.


  • May 4, 1995:
    The CSS Hunley was discovered off the coast of Sullivans Island by N.U.M.A. archeologists Ralph Wilbanks, Wes Hall, and Harry Pecorelli. After diving in nearly 30 feet of water – they removed three feet of sediment to reveal one of the Hunley’s two small coning towers.

  • August 8, 2000:
    136 years after the start of her mission, the CSS Hunley returns home.