Today's Date in Civil War History

See what happened today in Civil War history. The information presented here is intended to serve as a reminder of important Civil War anniversaries. With the brief format of this feature we, of course, cannot list every event that occurred during the War. As always, we Welcome your comments and suggestions about this feature of

Courtesy of Photo Contributor Rick Jordahl, Kansas City, MO
Close Window


December 1
1861. Union gunboat Penguin captures Confederate blockade-running vessel Albion off Charleston, SC.
1863. Belle Boyd, Confederate spy, released from prison in Washington.
December 2
1859. John Brown, militant abolitionist, hanged for treason in Charlestown, VA for his October raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, VA. Brown’s thwarted insurrection and execution hasten the beginning of the War.
1863. Bronze statue Goddess of Freedom Triumphant put in place crowning the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. This 19 ½ ft. “Lady of Freedom”, designed by American sculptor Thomas Crawford, represents America’s promise of “liberty and justice for all”.
December 3
1862. In a controversial move, Confederate General Thomas Hindman, defying orders, sets out to attack Union forces at Fayettville, AR.
December 4
1862. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston appointed overall commander in West.
1863. Confederate forces abandon Knoxville, TN.
1864. Battle of Waynesboro. A running cavalry battle between Confederate Gen. Joe Wheeler and Union Gen. Judson Kilpatrick as Sherman’s troops continue their March to the Sea.
December 5
1861. Confederate General William Hardee, affectionately known as “Old Reliable”, takes command of Central Army of Kentucky.
December 6
1889. Confederate President Jefferson Davis dies in New Orleans.
December 7
1862. Battle of Hartsville, TN. Confederate victory under the command of General John Hunt Morgan leads to cavalry raids by Nathan Bedford Forest in western Tennessee.
1862. Battle of Prairie Grove, AR. Troops under Confederate Major General Thomas Hindman take on two Union divisions under Union Generals Blunt and Herron. No decisive winner but Hindman retreats.
December 8
1863. Union cavalry raids under General W.W. Averell destroy railroads in West Virginia.
December 9
1861. Joint Committee on Conduct of the War is established by Congress.
December 10
1861. Kentucky joins Confederacy as its 13th and last state.
December 11
1861. Fire in Charleston, SC business district.
1862. Union launches artillery shelling of Fredericksburg.
December 12
1862. Union troops cross Rappahannock into Fredericksburg under dense fog.
December 13
1861. Battle of Buffalo Mountain, VA.
1862. Battle of Fredericksburg results in over 12,000 Union casualties as troops under General Ambrose Burnside repeatedly attack Confederate forces under Generals James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson entrenched at Marye’s Heights. “It is well that war is so terrible”, Confederate General Robt. E. Lee states during the battle, “we should grow too fond of it”.
December 14
1863. Battle of Bean’s Station, TN.
December 15
1862. Burnside pulls defeated Union army back across Rappahannock River.
1864. Battle of Nashville, TN. First day of two day battle begins before sunrise as Union troops under Gen. Geo. Thomas attack forces under Confederate General John Bell Hood. Union victory leads to Confederate retreat and Hood’s resignation.
December 16
1863. Gettysburg Union veteran General John Buford dies of Typhoid fever.
1864. Federal forces capture Wytheville, VA.
December 17
1862. Battle of Goldsboro, NC. Confederates force Union retreat.
1862. Grant issues infamous order expelling “Jews” from War Department. Order is later rescinded by Lincoln.
December 18
1861. Britain’s Lord Russell demands release of Mason and Slidell (from the Trent Affair) and threatens war with America.
1865. Slavery officially abolished as 27 states ratify 13th Amendment.
December 19
1862. Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest continues campaign by defeating Union cavalry near Lexington, TN.
December 20
1860. South Carolina adopts Ordinance of Secession and secedes from Union.
1862. Confederate troops under General Van Dorn surprise Union troops at Holly Springs, MS and force their withdrawal into Tennessee.
December 21
1861. Confederate General Jackson’s “Stonewall” Brigade begins march to their winter camp at Winchester, VA.
1864. Sherman’s troops capture Savannah, GA.
December 22
1864. Sherman presents Savannah, GA to Lincoln “as a Christmas gift” after capturing the city at the end of his March to the Sea.
December 23
1864. Under relentless pursuit by Union troops under Gen. George Thomas, the remainder of Confederate General John Bell Hood’s army continues to disintegrate.
1864. Union naval officer David G. Farragut named vice admiral (a new naval rank equivalent to lieutenant general of the army).
December 24
1864. Union fleet under Rear Admiral David D. Porter begins shelling Fort Fisher, NC.
December 25
1860. Union Major Anderson withdraws troops to Ft. Sumter to avoid bloodshed.
1861. Lincoln meets with Cabinet to resolve Trent Affair.
December 26
1861. Union General Halleck declares martial law in Missouri.
1861. Trent Affair ends as Lincoln’s cabinet decides U.S.-held prisoners Mason and Slidell should be released.
December 27
1862. Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs, MS begins. (3 days). Hampered by swamps and severed communication lines Union forces attempt assault on Vicksburg.
December 28
1861. Union army and naval forces begin cooperative actions in mounting counter-attack against Confederate attempts to overtake Union troops at Port Royal.
December 29
1862. Union General Sherman’s offensive at Chickasaw Bluffs near Vicksburg results in heavy casualties and is repulsed by Confederates.
1863. Battle of Mossy Creek, TN.
December 30
1862. Union General William Rosecrans lines up troops outside Murfreesboro,TN. Confederate cavalry proceed to capture over 1,000 troops and destroy vital supplies.
December 31
1862. Battle of Parker’s Crossroads, TN. Confederate troops under the famous Cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest, the “Wizard of the Saddle”, are surprised by an attack from their rear. When asked for direction, Forrest exclaims “Charge both ways!”
1862. Battle of Stone’s River (Murfreesboro) TN. Forces under Confederate General Braxton Bragg collide with Union forces under Union General Wm. Rosecrans in first of three days’ fighting. Union repels Confederate attacks; terrible losses on both sides.
1862. West Virginia admitted to the Union as 35th state.
1862. USS Monitor sinks off Cape Hatteras in stormy seas.

Close Window


January 1
1862. Battle of Port Royal Island, SC.
1862. Confederate Commissioners Slidell and Mason (Trent Affair) are released from Prison.
1863. Emancipation Proclamation takes effect. Lincoln states all slaves “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…”
January 2
1863. Third day of Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro). Confederate forces under Bragg attack Union forces under Rosecrans but are repulsed. Battle comes to an end with more that 24,000 casualties in three days’ fighting.
January 3
1862. Bragg retreats from Murfreesboro in terrible weather.
January 4
1862. In the Shenandoah, Stonewall Jackson’s Romney Campaign is filled with extreme hardship from snow, ice and sleet. Half frozen and hungry troops capture town of Bath but soon withdraw.
January 5
1861. Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan (Mobile Bay) taken over by Confederate troops.
January 6
1862. Leading senators demand McClellan be removed because of inaction. Lincoln refuses.
January 7
1865. Lincoln relieves General Butler of command.
January 8
1861. South adopts provisional Confederate Constitution.
1863. Battle of Springfield, MO. Confederate General John S. Marmaduke destroys Schofield’s supply base at Springfield.
January 9
1861. Mississippi secedes.
1861. Jefferson Davis named President of Confederacy.
January 10
1861. Florida secedes.
1863. Union Navy bombards Galveston, TX.
January 11
1861. Alabama secedes.
1862. Union Secretary of War Simon Cameron resigns following corruption charges.
1865. Missouri abolishes slavery.
January 12
1862. Union, under General Ambrose Burnside, attempts naval mission to gain control of North Carolina. Severe weather results in mission failure.
January 13
1862. Lt. John Worden named commander of USS Monitor, presently under construction in New York.
1865. Union naval forces under Admiral Porter attack Fort Fisher, NC.
January 14
1864. Union troops force Longstreet retreat near Dandridge, TN.
January 15
1862. Edwin M. Stanton named Union Secretary of War.
January 16
1864. Union cavalry engages Confederates at Kimbrough’s Crossroads, TN.
1865. Robert E. Lee assumes command of all Confederate armies.
January 17
1863. Grant assumes personal command of Vicksburg campaign.
1864. Battle of Dandridge, TN. Longstreet’s attack forces Union to pull back to New Market.
January 18
1862. Confederate General Stonewall Jackson’s exhausted troops, after having twice attempted attack on Cumberland, Maryland, make winter quarters at Bath.
January 19
1861. Georgia secedes.
1862. Battle of Mill Springs, KY. Union victory destroys Confederate defenses in Kentucky.
1865. Sherman leaves Savannah to approach Lee’s forces.
January 20
1863. Burnside’s Mud March. Attempting to move on Richmond, Union troops become bogged down in mud caused by two days’ rain.
January 21
1864. In Nashville, TN, pro-Union citizens propose anti-slavery resolution in secret convention. A similar convention had just days before taken place in Little Rock, AR.
January 22
1864. Ensign James J. Russell of USS Restless captures Confederate blockade runner William A. Kain.
January 23
1863. Union General Burnside asks Lincoln to dismiss Hooker, and several other Union officers, or accept his (Burnside’s) resignation from the Army.
January 24
1863. Fighting snow, cold and sleet, Marmaduke’s cavalry prepares to cross White River to safe ground.
January 25
1863. Lincoln names General Joseph Hooker as commander of Army. (Burnside was later persuaded to withdraw his resignation).
January 26
1861. Louisiana secedes.
1862. General P.G.T. Beauregard named second-in-command in Tennessee (under Albert Sidney Johnston).
January 27
1862. Lincoln issues General War Order No. 1 demanding action from Union forces.
1864. Battle of Fair Garden, TN. By the end of the day, Confederate troops are defeated.
January 28
1864. Union cavalry under General Samuel D. Sturgis pursues Confederate troops after first day’s fighting at Fair Garden but suffers severe casualties and, threatened by approaching Confederate reinforcements, withdraws.
January 29
1861. Hotly contested and widely disputed Kansas enters Union as free state.
1862. Confederate spy Belle Boyd captured and sent to Washington prison.
January 30
1862. USS Monitor launched in New York. The vessel is the most advanced ship in the world at the time and features a rotating gun turret.
January 31
1863. Confederate naval forces sink two Union ships guarding Charleston harbor.