Civil War 1861 Timeline

What Happened In The Civil War During 1861?

The Civil War began in 1861 when the Rebels fired upon Fort Sumter. Some other major events of 1861 are: Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the 16th president of the United States, the Southern states secede from the Union, the Confederate States of America’s government is formed with Jefferson Davis as its president, Robert E. Lee resigns from the United States Army and decides to fight for the South, both North and South begin to fill their armies by calling for volunteers, United States General-In-Chief Winfield Scott proposes his Anaconda Plan, the Border States are established, the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) is fought, George B. McClellan becomes commander of the Army of the Potomac, Ulysses S. Grant has command of Federal troops in southeastern Missouri and southeastern Illinois, William Tecumseh Sherman has a short time of command in the eastern and central parts of Kentucky, Ball’s Bluff is a Union disaster, Winfield Scott is replaced by George B. McClellan as general-in-chief, and the Trent Affair causes diplomatic problems for the Union.


“I cannot comprehend the madness of the times. Southern men are theoretically crazy. Extreme northern men are practical fools, the latter are really quite as bad as the former. Treason is in the air around us every where & goes by the name of Patriotism.”
… Words of Thomas Corwin to Abraham Lincoln on January 16, 1861.

1–6 – During this stretch of dates Southern state militias are busy. Fort Pulaski in Savannah, Georgia, two forts and an arsenal in Alabama, and a United States Arsenal in Apalachicola, Florida, are all occupied by state militias.

5 – A caucus is held by United States senators from six gulf states and Arkansas. Their conclusion is that reconciliation is only a waste of time, and that the slave states should secede and form a confederacy.

Star of the West

Star of the West

5 – The Star of the West is loaded with 200 troops and provisions as it leaves New York. The ship is sailing to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina to provide relief for the troops on duty there.

8 – Jacob Thompson resigns his position as the Mississippi Secretary of the Interior.

9 – The Star of the West has made its way to the South Carolina coast, but rebel fire prevents the ship from entering Charleston Harbor, it returns to New York.

“The first gun of the new struggle for independence [if struggle there is to be] has been fired, and Federal power has received its first repulse.”
… An excerpt from an editorial by the Charleston Mercury on January 10, 1861.

9 – Mississippi secedes from the Union.

10 – Florida secedes from the Union.

11 – Alabama secedes from the Union.

19 – Georgia secedes from the Union.

“The day that Georgia was declared out of the Union was a day of the wildest excitement in Rome [Rome, Georgia]. There was no order or prearrangement about it all, but the people met each other and shook hands and exchanged congratulations over it and manifested the utmost enthusiasm. Of course, a great many of the older and wiser heads looked on with a great deal of foreboding at these rejoicings and evidence of delight, but the general feeling was one of excitement and joy.”
… Georgian Mary A. Ward speaking before Congress after the war.

19 – In an attempt to stave off secession, the state of Virginia proposes a national peace conference.

21 – The United States Senate loses five more members from the South (others had resigned in December, 1860) as they resign. Notable among these resigning senators is Jefferson Davis of Mississippi.

26 – Louisiana secedes from the Union.

29 – After losing five states to secession, the new state of Kansas is admitted as the thirty-fourth state of the Union. The Kansas state constitution prohibits slavery.


“Upon my weary heart was showered smiles, plaudits, and flowers, but beyond them, I saw troubles and thorns innumerable. We are without machinery, without means, and threatened by a powerful opposition; but I do not despond and will not shrink from the task imposed on me.”
… Jefferson Davis, the provisional president of the Confederate States of America, writes to his wife, Varina, in February, 1861.

1 – Texas secedes from the Union.

“I am for the Union without any ‘if.’”
… Unlike others in his state, Texas Governor Sam Houston was not in favor of secession.

4 – Virginia’s national Peace Convention opens in Washington, D.C. with former President John Tyler presiding. There are 131 delegates from 21 states in attendance, but there are no delegates present from the seceded states. The convention is boycotted by states of the Deep South.

4 – The six seceded states begin to organize as they meet at a convention in Montgomery, Alabama to create their new government. The seceded states at this time are: South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

8 – At the Montgomery convention, the seceded states adopt a Constitution for their provisional government.

9 – The provisional Confederate Congress at Montgomery elects Jefferson Davis of Mississippi as the provisional Confederate President, and Alexander Stephens of Georgia as the Confederate provisional Vice-President.

“Mr. Davis is a man of slight sinewy figure, rather over the middle height, and of erect, soldierlike bearing. He is about fifty-five years of age; his features are regular and well-defined, but the face is thin and marked on cheek and brow with many wrinkles, and is rather careworn and haggard. One eye is apparently blind, the other is dark, piercing, intelligent.”
… A description of Jefferson Davis by William Russell of the London Times.

“You cannot transform the negro into anything one-tenth as useful or as good as what slavery enables them to be.”
… Words of Jefferson Davis, the provisional president of the Confederate States of America. February, 1861.

9 – A secession convention up for vote in Tennessee is rejected by nearly ten thousand votes.

10 – In Springfield, Illinois, a tall man named Abraham Lincoln leaves on his journey to Washington, D.C., and his place in history.

13 – The Electoral College confirms Abraham Lincoln’s election as President of the United States.

15 – Now that it has provisional President Jefferson Davis and provisional Vice-President Alexander Stephens, the Montgomery, Alabama Confederate convention acts as a provisional Congress and passes a resolution to take Union-held Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina and Fort Pickens in Pensacola Beach, Florida. The resolution says that if necessary, force can be used to take these forts.

18 – Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as the provisional President of the Confederacy.

Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis

“The man and the hour have met. Prosperity, honor and victory await his administration.”
… Fire-eater William Lowndes Yancy introducing Jefferson Davis to an enthusiastic crowd. Yancy was one of the South’s most vocal proponents for secession.

23 – Abraham Lincoln completes his journey from Springfield, Illinois when he arrives in Washington, D.C., he has many challenges awaiting him.

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Civil War Casualties

How Many Died in the Civil War?

Dead at Spotsylvania, 1864.

Dead at Spotsylvania, 1864.

A casualty is someone injured, killed, captured, or missing in a military engagement. The Civil War had plenty of all these. The casualty totals in the Civil War can only be treated as estimates. The exact numbers cannot be exactly known.

Due to exhaustive research by many credible and earnest Civil War scholars, the casualty numbers presented here can be considered to be as accurate as possible. I have relied on trustworthy sources for the numbers and statistics I share in this post. The exact number of Civil War casualties will forever be a topic for debate.

One fact we can be certain of regarding Civil War casualty counts, the carnage of the Civil War was immense. War and disease provided the Grim Reaper with all he desired.

Let us not neglect to know that the cold numbers and statistics shown in this post are facts that represent real people. People who fought in a vicious war, who bled red blood whether they were clothed in blue or gray. People who lost limbs or were severely disfigured, people who died miserable, slow deaths of disease or injury, people who perished instantaneously in groups during battle, or slowly had life ebb away as they sprawled alone and incapacitated in the aftermath of a major battle or minor skirmish. Many died agonizing and feverish deaths of disease. These numbers are human beings.

Do We Know How Many Died?

Dead at Petersburg, 1864-1865.

Dead at Petersburg, 1864-1865.

The quick and simple answer is that no one knows for sure exactly how many died in the Civil War, neither for the North or the South. An estimate of the deaths in the Civil War is 623,026. This means that of men of service age, one out of eleven men died during the Civil War years between 1861 and 1865.

Below is a chart showing how the Civil War compares in total deaths to other wars:

Deaths in American Wars

War Deaths
Revolutionary War 4,435
War of 1812 2,260
Mexican 13,283
Civil War 623,026
Spanish-American 2,446
World War I 116,516
World War II 406,742
Korea 54,246
Vietnam 57,939


How Many Casualties in the Civil War?

For both sides in the Civil War, 471,427 can be considered as a minimum number of those wounded. When added to the estimate of 623,026 deaths, the total estimate of Civil War casualties is 1,094,453.

Greatest Union Battle Losses

Date. Battle Killed Wounded Missing Aggregate
July 1-3, 1863. Gettysburg 3070 14497 5434 23001
May 8-18, 1864. Spotsylvania 2725 13416 2258 18399
May 5-7, 1864. Wilderness 2246 12037 3383 17666
Sept. 17, 1862. Antietam (+) 2108 9549 753 12410
May 1-3, 1863. Chancellorsville 1606 9762 5919 17287
Sept. 19-20, 1863. Chickamauga 1656 9749 4774 16179
June 1-4, 1864. Cold Harbor 1844 9,077> 1816 12737
Dec. 11-14, 1862. Fredericksburg 1284 9600 1769 12653
Aug. 28-30, 1862. Manassas(++) 1747 8452 4263 14462
April 6-7, 1862. Shiloh 1754 8408 2885 13047
12/31/62 Stone’s River 1730 7802 3717 13249
June 15-19,1864. Petersburg (Assault) 1688 8513 1185 11386

+ Not including South Mountain and Crampton’s Gap.
++ Includes Chantilly, Rappahannock, Bristoe Station, and Bull Run Bridge.
Source of table: William E. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865

The Union Armies lost 110,070 killed or mortally wounded, and 275,175 wounded; for a total of 385,245. This does not include the missing in action. Of the 110,070 deaths from battle, 67,058 were killed on the field and the remaining 43,012 died of wounds.
This table shows how this loss was divided among the different arms of the service:

Service Officers Enlisted Men Total Ratio of Officers to Men
Infantry 5461 91424 96885 01:16.70
Sharpshooters 23 443 466 01:17.70
Cavalry 671 9925 10596 01:14.70
Light Artillery 116 1701 1817 01:14.60
Heavy Artillery 5 124 129 01:24.80
Engineers 4 72 76 01:18.00
General Officers 67 —- 67 —-
General Staff 18 —- 18 —-
Unclassified —- 16 16 —-
Total 6365 103705 110070 01:16.20

Source of table: William E. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865

The losses in the three main categories of Union troops were:

Class Officers Enlisted Men Total Ratio of Officers to Men
Volunteers 6078 98815 104893 01:16.20
Regulars 144 2139 2283 01:14.80
Colored Troops 143 2751 2894 01:19.20
Total 6365 103705 110070 01:16.30

Source of table: William E. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865


Class Officers Enlisted Men Total Ratio of Officers to Men
Volunteers 2471 165039 167510 02:06.70
Regulars 104 2448 2552 01:23.50
Colored Troops 137 29521 29658 04:35.50
Total 2712 197008 199720 02:12.60

Source of table: William E. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865

Deaths in the Union Army, from all causes, as officially classified.

Cause Officers Enlisted Men Aggregate
Killed, or died of wounds 6365 103705 110070
Died of disease 2712 197008 199790
In Confederate prisons 83 24783 24, 866
Accidents 142 3972 4114
Drowning 106 4838 4, 944
Sunstrokes 5 308 313
Murdered 37 483 520
Killed after capture 14 90 104
Suicide 26 365 391
Military executions 267 267
Executed by the enemy 4 60 64
Causes known, but unclassified 62 1972 2034
Cause not stated 28 12093 12121
Aggregate 9, 584 349, 944 359528

NOTE: The deaths from accidents were caused, principally, by the careless use of fire-arms, explosions of ammunition, and railway accidents; in the cavalry service, a large number of accidental deaths resulted from poor horsemanship.

Source of table: William E. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865


A severe facial wound suffered in the Civil War.

A severe facial wound suffered in the Civil War.

James B. Fry, United States Provost Marshal-General, provides a report in 1865-1866 that includes a tabulation of Confederate losses. Fry’s report is compiled from the muster-rolls which are on file in the Bureau of Confederate Archives. This report is incomplete, as Confederate records can be, and often are, spotty. For example, in these records the Alabama rolls are mostly missing. Nonetheless, the numbers are worth noting. From General Fry’s report, the following tables were created by William E. Fox in his Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865:

STATE Officers En. Men Total
Virginia 266 5062 5328
North Carolina 677 13845 5522
South Carolina 360 8827 9187
Georgia 172 5381 5553
Florida 47 746 793
Alabama 5 538 552
Mississippi 52 5685 5807
Louisiana 70 2548 2618
Texas 28 1320 1348
Arkansas 54 2061 2165
Tennessee 99 2016 2115
Regular C. S. Army 35 972 507
Border States 92 1867 1959
Totals 2086 50868 52954

Source of table: William E. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865

Died of Wounds
STATE Officers En. Men Total
Virginia 200 2319 2519
North Carolina 330 4821 5151
South Carolina 257 3478 3735
Georgia 50 1579 1719
Florida 16 490 506
Alabama 9 181 190
Mississippi 75 2576 2651
Louisiana 42 826 868
Texas 13 528 541
Arkansas 27 888 915
Tennessee 49 825 874
Regular C. S. Army 27 441 468
Border States 61 672 733
Totals 1552 20324 21570

Source of table: William E. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865

The Horror of the Civil War: Wounds, Dying, and Death