Five Chronologies of Reference InformationPlacing the Battlefield Tours, Troop Movements, and Publications material into larger, more structured contexts, presented in chronological order.
Some Chronologies contain links to the National Park Service's Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report: Battle Summaries, which provide historical summaries of the 384 principal Civil War battles .
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1861. The United States of America is a country divided by ideology. Years of latent mistrust and deep-set rancor over a multitude of issues--social, economic, and political--tied in with the overriding problem of the morality of slave labor, forged an ever-deepening rift between the North and the South. In 1861, with the intensity of a volcanic eruption, this resentment exploded into warfare. The Civil War had begun.
Along the weary road were bloody struggles: Fort Sumter, where the military conflict began; First Manassas (Bull Run), where the Union was soundly defeated in July, 1861, stunning Washington and making Confederates overconfident; early and important conflicts in the west, including Wilson's Creek, Belmont-Columbus, Fort Henry and Fort Donelson; Pea Ridge; the Iuka and Corinth Operations; Prairie Grove; and at Shiloh, in April, 1862, where nearly 24,000 men on both sides of the line were killed, wounded, or report missing, and where the South gained respect for the Union soldier; Jackson's Valley Campaign; the historic battle at sea (Hampton Roads, Virginia) between the Union ironclad Monitor and the Confederacy's Virginia, the redesigned and rebuilt U.S.S. Merrimack; the Peninsula Campaign, where the largest amphibious operation yet undertaken in the western world failed to put Richmond into Union hands, and assured the nation a long, bitter war; and the Confederate victory in the Second Manassas (Bull Run) Campaign that prompted the South's first incursion into the North.
More battles, and more death were to come: the Maryland Campaign in western Maryland and West Virginia, including South Mountain, Harpers Ferry, and Antietam on September 17, 1862, the bloodiest day of the Civil War, and a draw--critically important because the South's failure to win lost the Confederacy France and England's recognition; Fredericksburg, November to December, 1862, another desperate Union thrust against Richmond; Stones River (Murfreesboro) in the Confederate heartland, and the Chancellorsville Campaign, including Chancellorsville and Salem Church, a near catastrophe for the Union forces, Lee's greatest triumph, and the South's costliest victory; Vicksburg, Grant's 20-day miracle; the decisive Union victory in the Vicksburg Campaign which Grant won through persaverance, and the confrontation at Gettysburg which neither side planned; the Chickamauga Campaign and Chattanooga Campaign; the Red River Campaign and its Camden Expedition; the Overland Campaign, including the battles of The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House, ending in the Union disaster at Cold Harbor; Confederate General Forrest's brillance at Brice's Crossroads and the following Battle of Tupelo; the critical timing caused by the battle of Monocacy; the blitzkrieg-like Atlanta Campaign, marking the destruction of a city and a way of life; the Confederate disasters at Franklin and Nashville; the final struggles for Petersburg and Richmond, ending in the Appomattox Campaign; and the surrender at Bentonville.
(Text Adapted From: Shiloh Historical Handbook Series - publication of the National Park Service. 1961.)
1. Some 10,455 armed conflicts occurred during the Civil War ranging from battles to minor skirmishes; 384 conflicts (3.7 percent) were identified as the principal battles and classified according to their historical significance.