President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, which states, "All slaves in areas still in rebellion are freed." The proclamation also enables the recruitment of federal regiments of African-American volunteer soldiers. The best-known battle of the Civil War is fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1-3. General Robert E. Lee sustains 20,400 casualties and retreats to Virginia. The Union army fails to capitalize on the victory and the Confederates escape. On July 4, Vicksburg, Mississippi surrenders to General U.S. Grant, thus opening the Mississippi River to U.S. forces.
January 1863 -- Emancipation Proclamation. In an effort to placate the slave-holding border states, Lincoln resisted the demands of radical Republicans for complete abolition. Yet some Union generals, such as General B. F. Butler, declared slaves escaping to their lines "contraband of war," not to be returned to their masters. Other generals decreed that the slaves of men rebelling against the Union were to be considered free. Congress, too, had been moving toward abolition. In 1861, Congress had passed an act stating that all slaves employed against the Union were to be considered free. In 1862, another act stated that all slaves of men who supported the Confederacy were to be considered free. Lincoln, aware of the public's growing support of abolition, issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring that all slaves in areas still in rebellion were, in the eyes of the federal government, free.
January 1 Major General John B. Magruder, who became the Confederate commander of military forces in Texas on November 29, 1862, gave the recapture of Galveston top priority. At 3:00 am on New Year's Day, 1863, four Confederate gunboats appeared, coming down the bay toward Galveston. Soon afterward, the Rebels commenced a land attack. The Union forces in Galveston were three companies of the 42nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment under the command of Col. Isaac S. Burrell. The Confederates captured or killed all of them except for the regiment's adjutant. They also took Harriet Lane, by boarding her, and two barks and a schooner. Cdr. W.B. Renshaw's flagship, U.S.S. Westfield, ran aground when trying to help Harriet Lane and, at 10:00 am, she was blown up to prevent her capture by the Confederates. Galveston was in Confederate hands again although the Union blockade would limit commerce in and out of the harbor. Galveston. Soon afterward, the Rebels commenced a land attack.
March 1863 -- The First Conscription Act.
Because of recruiting difficulties, an act was passed making all men between the ages of 20 and 45 liable to be called for military service. Service could be avoided by paying a fee or finding a substitute. The act was seen as unfair to the poor, and riots in working-class sections of New York City broke out in protest. A similar conscription act in the South provoked a similar reaction.
April -- Charleston Harbor
Maj. Gen. David Hunter prepared his land forces on Folly, Cole's, and North Edisto Islands to cooperate with a naval bombardment of Fort Sumter. On April 7, the South Atlantic Squadron under Rear Admiral S.F. Du Pont bombarded Fort Sumter, having little impact on the Confederate defenses of Charleston Harbor. Although several of Hunter's units had embarked on transports, the infantry were not landed, and the joint operation was abandoned.
The ironclad warships Keokuk, Weehawken, Passaic, Montauk, Patapsco, New Ironsides, Catskill, Nantucket, and Nahant participated in the bombardment. Keokuk, struck more than 90 times by the accurate Confederate fire, sunk the next day.
May 1863 -- The Battle of Chancellorsville.
On April 27, Union General Hooker crossed the Rappahannock River to attack General Lee's forces. Lee split his army, attacking a surprised Union army in three places and almost completely defeating them. Hooker withdrew across the Rappahannock River, giving the South a victory, but it was the Confederates' most costly victory in terms of casualties.
The series of controversial events that define this crucial battle.
May 10 Stonewall Jackson dies
Stonewall Jackson dies of pneumonia following amputation of his arm at Chancellorsville
May 1863 -- The Vicksburg Campaign.
Union General Grant won several victories around Vicksburg, Mississippi, the fortified city considered essential to the Union's plans to regain control of the Mississippi River. On May 22, Grant began a siege of the city. After six weeks, Confederate General John Pemberton surrendered, giving up the city and 30,000 men. The capture of Port Hudson, Louisiana, shortly thereafter placed the entire Mississippi River in Union hands. The Confederacy was split in two.
June 9 -- Battle of Brandy Station, 1863.
The victorious Confederate Army of Northern Virginia streamed into Culpeper County after its victory at Fredericksburg. Under the leadership of General Robert E. Lee, the troops seemed invincible and massed around Culpeper preparing to carry the war north into Pennsylvania.
By June 5, two infantry corps under Longstreet and Ewell were camped in and around Culpeper. Six miles north of town, holding the line of the Rappahannock River, Gen. J.E.B. Stuart bivouacked his cavalry troopers, screening the Confederate Army against surprise by the enemy.
June 13 -- The Gettysburg Campaign.
Confederate General Lee decided to take the war to the enemy. On June 13, he defeated Union forces at Winchester, Virginia, and continued north to Pennsylvania. General Hooker, who had been planning to attack Richmond, was instead forced to follow Lee. Hooker, never comfortable with his commander, General Halleck, resigned on June 28, and General George Meade replaced him as commander of the Army of the Potomac.
July 1 -- Battle of Gettysburg
A chance encounter between Union and Confederate forces began the Battle of Gettysburg. In the fighting that followed, Meade had greater numbers and better defensive positions. He won the battle, but failed to follow Lee as he retreated back to Virginia. Militarily, the Battle of Gettysburg was the high-water mark of the Confederacy; it is also significant because it ended Confederate hopes of formal recognition by foreign governments. On November 19, President Lincoln dedicated a portion of the Gettysburg battlefield as a national cemetery, and delivered his memorable "Gettysburg Address."
Joe Ryan's Battlewalks: Approaches to Gettysburg
This is a one hour presentation about the intent of General Robert E. Lee in his drive north into Pennsylvania
The presentation refutes the premise that the Battle of Gettysburg was the result of the two Armies running into each other inadvertently
July 10 -- Fort Wagner South Carolina
Union artillery on Folly Island together with Rear Adm. John Dahlgren's fleet of ironclads opened fire on Confederate defenses of Morris Island. The bombardment provided cover for Brig. Gen. George C. Strong's brigade, which crossed Light House Inlet and landed by boats on the southern tip of the island. Strong's troops advanced, capturing several batteries, to within range of Confederate Fort Wagner. At dawn, July 11, Strong attacked the fort. Soldiers of the 7th Connecticut reached the parapet but, unsupported, were thrown back.
July 18: -- After the July 11 assault on Fort Wagner failed, Gillmore reinforced his beachhead on Morris Island. At dusk July 18, Gillmore launched an attack spearheaded by the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, a black regiment. The unit's colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, was killed. Members of the brigade scaled the parapet but after brutal hand-to-hand combat were driven out with heavy casualties. The Federals resorted to siege operations to reduce the fort. This was the fourth time in the war that black troops played a crucial combat role, proving to skeptics that they would fight bravely if only given the chance.
July 16 -- Secessionville
To divert Confederate reinforcements from a renewed attack on Fort Wagner, Gen. Gillmore designed two feints. An amphibious force ascended Stone River to threaten the Charleston & Savannah Railroad bridge. A second force, consisting of Terry's division, landed on James Island on July 8. Terry demonstrated against the Confederate defenses. On July 16, the Confederates attacked Terry's camp at Grimball's Landing. Because of incomplete reconnaissance of the difficult, marshy ground, the disorganized Confederate attack was soon aborted. Their mission accomplished, Federal troops withdrew from the island on July 17.
August - December -- Bombardment of Fort Sumter
Federal batteries erected on Morris Island opened fire on August 17 and continued their bombardment of Fort Sumter and the Charleston defenses until August 23. Despite a severe pounding, Fort Sumter's garrison held out. Siege operations continued against Fort Wagner on Morris Island.
September 6 -- Charleston Harbor
The night of September 6-7, Confederate forces evacuated Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg pressured by advancing Federal siegeworks. Federal troops then occupied all of Morris Island. On September 8, a storming party of about 400 marines and sailors attempted to surprise Fort Sumter. The attack was repulsed.
September 8 -- Fort Griffin Texas
About 6:00 am on the morning of September 8, 1863, a Union flotilla of four gunboats and seven troop transports steamed into Sabine Pass and up the Sabine River with the intention of reducing Fort Griffin and landing troops to begin occupying Texas. As the gunboats approached Fort Griffin, they came under accurate fire from six cannons. The Confederate gunners at Fort Griffin had been sent there as a punishment. To break the day-to-day monotony, the gunners practiced firing artillery at range markers placed in the river. Their practice paid off. Fort Griffin's small force of 44 men, under command of Lt. Richard W. Dowling, forced the Union flotilla to retire and captured the gunboat Clifton and about 200 prisoners. Further Union operations in the area ceased for about a month. The heroics at Fort Griffin--44 men stopping a Union expedition--inspired other Confederate soldiers.
September 19 -- The Battle of Chickamauga.
On September 19, Union and Confederate forces met at Chickamauga Creek in Tennessee. After a brief period of fighting, Union forces retreated to Chattanooga, and the Confederacy maintained control of the battlefield. After Rosecrans's debacle at Chickamauga, Confederate General Braxton Bragg's army occupied the mountains that ring the vital railroad center of Chattanooga.
This Terrible Sound
The Battle of Chickamauga
Study of the great bloody battle of Chickamauga that was the last great victory by the Confederates. This is a detailed account of the movements of regiments, brigades, divisions.
November 1863 -- The Battle of Chattanooga. Grant, brought in to save the situation, steadily built up offensive strength, and on November 23- 25 burst the blockade in a series of brilliantly executed attacks. Union forces pushed Confederate troops away from Chattanooga. The victory set the stage for General Sherman's Atlanta Campaign.
November-December -- The Siege of Knoxville
The difficult strategic situation of the federal armies after Chickamauga enabled Bragg to detach a force under Longstreet to drive Burnside out of eastern Tennessee. Burnside sought refuge in Knoxville, which he successfully defended from Confederate assaults.
Civil War Musket
Wood & Steel Frontier Rifle Designed After The Original Rifle,
This Civil War Musket replica has been designed after the original rifle of its era. Measures approximately 37 inches long. Each is constructed with a solid one-piece wood stock, painted steel barrel and die-cast parts.