Timeline: Civil War & Reconstruction 1861-1877
Secession and Civil War Events:
Jan. 3: A force of Savannah volunteer militia units captured Fort Pulaski, which was located a mile upstream from the mouth of the Savannah River. The capture was accomplished without gunfire, as the fort was only defended by a U.S. artillery sergeant and a caretaker, but the action garnered a lot of attention across the South.
Jan. 16: Georgia’s secession convention convened in the state capital of Milledgeville.
Jan. 18: At Georgia’s secession convention, Eugenius Nisbet introduced a resolution calling for Georgia’s secession from the Union and cooperating with other seceded states to form a “Southern Confederacy.”
Jan. 21: The Ordinance of Secession was signed by all but six delegates attending the convention.
Jan. 22: The six delegates who had not signed the Ordinance of Secession did sign a statement of protest, but agreed to yield to the majority.
Jan. 29: Georgia’s secession convention meeting in Milledgeville adjourned with instructions to reconvene in Savannah on the call of the convention president.
Jan. 30: Thomas Butler King was appointed as Georgia’s commissioner to Great Britain, France, and Belgium to explain the reasons for Georgia’s secession and to further promote direct trade with Georgia.
Feb. 4: Delegates from Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina convened in Montgomery, AL to form the Confederate States of America. Representing Georgia were Howell Cobb, T.R.R. Cobb, Benjamin Hill, Alexander Stephens, Robert Toombs, Eugenius Nisbet, Francis Bartow, Martin Crawford, Augustus Wright, and Augustus Holmes Kenan. Howell Cobb was elected as convention president.
March 4: Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President of the United States.
March 16: Georgia’s secession convention, which had reassembled in Savannah, ratified the Confederate Constitution, and instructed a committee chaired by T.R.R. Cobb to revise Georgia’s state constitution.
March 21: Alexander Stephens, provisional Confederate Vice-President, delivered his famous “Cornerstone” speech at the secession convention in Savannah. In the speech he proclaimed that “our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”
March 23: Meeting in Savannah, Georgia’s secession convention adopted a proposed new state constitution for Georgia. The convention voted to submit the constitution to the public for ratification on the first Tuesday in July (which marked the first time Georgia voters were allowed to vote on the state constitution). Following this action, the convention adjourned.
Apr. 8: Georgia took possession of the U.S. mint at Dahlonega.
Apr. 19: President Abraham Lincoln ordered a blockade of all Southern seaports.
Apr. 30: Georgian John Archibald Campbell resigned from the U.S. Supreme Court to serve as Confederate Assistant Secretary of War.
Nov. 6: Voters of Georgia and other southern states officially elected Jefferson Davis as president and Alexander Stephens as vice president of the Confederate government. Both had been elected to head the provisional government in February 1861.
In Oklahoma, Cherokee Stand Watie, who had been born and grew up in the Cherokee Nation in Georgia, organized the Cherokee Mounted Rifles in support of the Confederacy.
Future Georgia governor Joseph M. Terrell was born in Greenville, Georgia.
The Georgia legislature passed, and the governor signed into law, an act allowing wives to have separate bank accounts from their husbands, but with the amount limited to $1000 or less.
Civil War Events:
The First Confederate Congress met in Richmond, VA in February. Representing Georgia’s ten congressional districts were: Julian Hartridge (1st), Charles J. Munnerlyn (2nd), Hines Holt (3rd), Augustus Holmes Kenan (4th), David Lewis (5th), William Clarke (6th), Robert Trippe (7th), Lucius Gartrell (8th), Hardy Strickland (9th), and Augustus Wright (10th).
Apr. 10: Union forces began bombardment of Fort Pulaski.
Apr. 11: Fort Pulaski surrendered to Union forces.
Apr. 12: James Andrews and a group of Union raiders stole the “General” locomotive, hoping to use it to destroy bridges and tracks of the Western & Atlantic Railroad from Atlanta to Chattanooga. His unsuccessful effort would later be known as the Andrews Raid, or The Great Locomotive Chase. The raiders were soon captured and the torn rails quickly repaired.
Apr. 15: The Confederate Congress passed a Conscription Act drafting all men between 18 and 35 into Confederate service; it was approved by President Jefferson Davis the following day.
May 14: Atlanta officially became a Confederate military post. On the same day Georgian John B. Gordon was promoted to major general.
June 7: James Andrews, leader of the raiders who had stolen the “General” in The Great Locomotive Chase, was hanged in Atlanta. The rest of the raiders suffered the same fate June 18.
Aug. 11: Martial law was declared in Atlanta.
Dec. 4: One of the early shortages experienced by Georgians because of the war was a lack of salt. In response to this the Georgia General Assembly authorized the governor to arrange for salt to be transported to Georgia from Saltville, Va., and if necessary “to impress a sufficient number of engines and cars” from any Georgia railroads and secure the needed salt.
Dec. 13: T.R.R. Cobb died in the Battle of Frederickburg, in Virginia. Cobb was a native of Athens, Georgia who had been a vocal proponent of secession, and is believed to have hand written the Confederate Constitution.
Future educator and author Lawton B. Evans was born in Lumpkin, Georgia; he would write the first history of Georgia for use in schools.
Civil War Events:
Jan. 1: President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves free in the eleven southern states then in rebellion. Up until this point, Lincoln had insisted the war was being fought to preserve the Union, but with this proclamation it also became a war to end slavery.
Feb. 28: Four Union gunboats destroyed blockade runner Rattlesnake (formerly the CSS Nashville) near Fort McAllister, Georgia.
May 3: Near Rome, Georgia, Confederate forces under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest captured a Union raiding force. The raiders were headed for Georgia to disrupt the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which was supplying Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Confederate force in northwest Georgia. The Union cavalry force was under orders to capture Rome, but in a story reminiscent of Paul Revere’s midnight ride, an Alabama mailman rode horseback for eleven straight hours to warn Rome of the pending attack. When the Union cavalry arrived on May 3rd, they found Rome’s civilian population armed behind barricades and ready to burn the bridges should the cavalry try to enter the city. While the Union leader debated whether or not to attack, Gen. Forrest’s forces arrived at Rome, blocking any Union escape and forcing surrender of their forces.
Sept. 19: The Battle of Chickamauga began, the first major Civil War battle in Georgia.
Sept. 20: The main fighting of the Battle of Chickamauga took place, with a Confederate charge led by Gen. James Longstreet turning the tide in favor of the Confederate forces, sending about half of the Union army in a rout back to Chattanooga. But Union general George H. Thomas rallied the remaining Union troops on Snodgrass Hill, halting the Confederate advance, and allowing the Union army to retreat orderly and safely after dark. Though the battle was a Confederate victory, it was at the cost of over 18,000 lives; the Union lost over 16,000 (Chickamauga was the second deadliest battle in the war, behind only Gettysburg). For his exploits Thomas was nicknamed the “Rock of Chickamauga.” The Confederate army was under the leadership of Braxton Bragg. The overall commanding Union General, William Rosecrans, was dismissed after the Chickamauga loss, replaced by Ulysses S. Grant, with his second in command William T. Sherman.
Sept. 22: Atlanta received 163 Union prisoners captured two days earlier at the Battle of Chickamauga; the first Federal prisoners in the Civil War sent to Atlanta.
Sept. 29: Gen. Howell Cobb was appointed commander of the Georgia State Troops, with his headquarters to be in Atlanta.
November: The Confederate War Department decided to build a prisoner of war camp near the small south Georgia town of Andersonville.
Nov. 24: The Battle of Lookout Mountain took place, in which Union forces launched an assault up the moutain’s steep slopes. During the battle (also known as the Battle Above the Clouds), there was fierce fighting by both sides. However, by nightfall, Union troops had taken the northern crest of the long plateau that extends southward into Georgia.
Nov. 25: The Battle of Missionary Ridge, in which Union forces routed Confederates holding the ridge, forcing them to retreat back into Georgia.
Nov. 27: The Battle of Ringgold Gap, in which the Confederate Army halted (albeit temporarily) the advancing Union Army after their Chattanooga victories.
The Georgia Code of 1863, compiled by Richard Clark, Jared Irwin, and T.R.R. Cobb (who had died the previous year), was published.
Prominent journalist Clark Howell was born in South Carolina.
The first known baseball game in Georgia was played by Union troops occupying Fort Pulaski; the 48th New York defeated the 47th New York by a score of 20-7.
The Civil War dominated events in Georgia this year. The highlights are below, and there is much more detail about particular battles and other events in the links and in our This Day in Georgia Civil War History feature, particularly personal accounts as William T. Sherman led his army through Georgia.
February: The prisoner of war camp near Andersonville was completed and began receiving prisoners. Although its official name was Camp Sumter, it was commonly referred to as Andersonville Prison. During its eighteen months of operation, it held up to 45,000 prisoners; approximately 13,000 of them died.
May 3: The Atlanta Campaign began as Sherman led his army southward.
May 8: Battle of Rocky Face Ridge.
May 14: Battle of Resaca.
May 17: Battle of Adairsville.
May 25: Battle of New Hope Church.
May 27: Battle of Pickett’s Mill.
May 28: Battle of Dallas.
June 22: Battle of Kolb’s Farm.
June 27: Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.
July 20: Battle of Peachtree Creek.
July 22: Battle of Atlanta.
July 28: Battle of Ezra Church.
Aug. 6: Battle of Utoy Creek.
Aug.31: Battle of Jonesboro. After this battle the supply line for the Confederate army was broken, forcing them to abandon Atlanta.
Sept. 2: Atlanta surrendered to Union forces.
Oct. 5: Battle of Allatoona.
Nov. 15: The infamous March to the Sea began, when William T. Sherman led his armies on a march through Georgia on their way to Savannah; they were hindered briefly at the Battle of Stockbridge. Behind them, they left much of Atlanta in flames.
Dec. 4: Battle of Waynesboro.
Dec. 21: Savannah surrendered to William T. Sherman.
For personal accounts of the March to the Sea, see In Their Own Words Entries for Nov. 15 (burning of Atlanta), Nov. 16, Nov. 17, Nov. 18, Nov. 19, Nov. 20, Nov. 21, Nov. 22, Nov. 23, Nov. 27, Nov. 28, Nov. 29, Dec. 4, Dec. 8, Dec. 9, Dec. 14, Dec. 15, Dec. 18, Dec. 20, and Dec. 22.
The ending of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction dominated Georgia events for this year.
Jan. 21: William T. Sherman and most of his army left Georgia, crossing into South Carolina. They left a small force behind, occupying Savannah.
Feb. 3: Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens, Secretary of War John Archibald Campbell (both Georgians) and another Confederate commissioners met with President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward to discuss the possibility of ending the Civil War. This meeting - termed the Hampton Roads Peace Conference - took place aboard a ship off the coast of Virginia, but ended in failure. Stephens and Lincoln had been congressional colleagues, and friends, before the war.
Apr. 9: General Robert. E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House. Many Georgians were still in the Confederate army at the time of surrender, including General John B. Gordon, who had taken part in the final battle at Appomattox.
Apr. 14: Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.; he died the following morning.
Apr. 16: Columbus fell to Union troops.
Apr. 20: Macon, then temporary Georgia capital, surrendered to Union troops.
Apr. 26: The last remaining significant Confederate Army surrendered to William T. Sherman; this day would eventually become Confederate Memorial Day.
May 4: The remaining Confederate and Georgia state troops in Atlanta surrendered.
May 10: Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops at Irwinville, Georgia.
May 11: Alexander Stephens was arrested at his home in Crawfordville, Georgia.
May 24: In Lincoln County, Georgia., unknown persons robbed two wagon trains filled with gold from the remnants of the Confederate treasury; it was never recovered.
June 23: Cherokee Stand Watie surrendered his forces, the last Confederate general to do so.
July 13: Georgia’s provisional governor James Johnson issued a proclamation abolishing slavery and called for an election for delegates to a constitutional convention in October.
Nov. 7: The constitutional convention assembled in Milledgeville adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1865.
Nov. 10: Henry Wirz, commander of the Confederate military prison at Andersonville, Georgia, was hanged in Washington D.C. He was the only Confederate military officer executed for actions during the war.
Dec. 9: The Georgia General Assembly ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery.
For first hand accounts of the ending of the war and the beginning of Reconstruction in Georgia, see In Their Own Words entries for Jan. 4, Feb. 13, Apr. 2, Apr. 7, Apr. 17, Apr. 18, Apr. 24, Apr. 28, May 1, May 3, May 4, May 5, May 17, May 18, May 21, May 26, and May 28.
The United States Congress refused to seat the Georgia delegation because it contained too many Confederate veterans.
Black delegates, concerned about conditions after the Civil War, convened in Augusta, where they called for equal pay, voting rights, jury duty, equal treatment in public accommodations, and public schools for both blacks and whites. The convention also created the Georgia Equal Rights Association.
The Georgia General Assembly adopted a resolution requesting that the U.S. remove troops from Georgia.
In Columbus, local women organized the Columbus Ladies’ Memorial Association - the first in the South. Similar associations soon formed in other southern cities. Their efforts led to adoption of Confederate Memorial Day.
Cherokee leader John Ross died in Washington, D.C.
Noted educator and philanthropist Martha Berry was born in Rome, Georgia.
Future Georgia governor John Slaton was born in Meriwether County.
The Augusta Baptist Institute opened. In 1879, the school moved to Atlanta, where its name was changed several times, finally becoming Morehouse College in 1913.
The U.S. Congress passed the First Reconstruction Act, dividing Georgia and the other seceded states into five military districts. Soon afterwards, John Pope arrived in Atlanta to take command of the Third District (which consisted of Georgia, Florida, and Alabama).
Chemist and sports pioneer Charles Herty was born in Milledgeville, Georgia.
A convention to revise Georgia’s 1865 constitution convened in Atlanta. During this convention, Atlanta city officials would propose that the state capital be moved to Atlanta.
Atlanta officially became Georgia’s capital city.
George Meade, commander of the Third Military District (including Georgia) removed provisional governor Charles Jones Jenkins from office because he refused to release $40,000 from the state treasury to cover the cost of the Reconstruction constitutional convention then underway.
Historian, author, and editor Lucian Lamar Knight was born in Atlanta.
Sociologist, author, and civil rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois was born in Massachusetts.
Georgia’s Reconstruction constitutional convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1868.
Musician Fiddlin’ John Carson was born in Fannin County.
Educator and civil rights leader John Hope was born in Augusta, Georgia.
The first issue of the Atlanta Constitution was published.
A newly elected Georgia General Assembly held its first meeting under the new Constitution of 1868; it included 186 white legislators and 36 black legislators - the first in Georgia history. They soon ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the requirements for re-admittance to the Union. This amendment granted citizenship to blacks, including emancipated slaves. But both the House of Representatives and Senate of Georgia soon thereafter removed the black members from office, on the grounds that the state constitution did not recognize the right of black citizens to hold public office.
Black leaders assembled in Macon to protest the ouster of blacks from the General Assembly, and to decide what actions to take. When a group of blacks and a few whites protested the action in Camilla, Georgia they were attacked, killing thirteen and wounding forty.
Howell Cobb died on a visit to New York City.
Rufus Bullock was elected governor of Georgia.
President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all involved in the Confederate cause during the Civil War.
The United States Congress again refused to seat Georgia’s elected delegation.
Author Cora Mae Harris was born in Elbert County.
Moina Michael, aka the “Poppy Lady,” was born in Walton County.
A Sunday School for blacks was organized in Augusta, Georgia; this was the first Sunday School for blacks in the country.
The 1870 session of Georgia General Assembly convened in the Kimball Opera House (which served as Georgia’s state capitol from 1869-1889). Black legislators who had been expelled were reseated (by an act of the U.S. Congress). On Feb. 2, 1870, the General Assembly ratified the Fifteenth Amendment; on July 15 President Ulysses Grant signed an act restoring Georgia’s representation in Congress. This act was called the Georgia Bill, and was supposed to be the end of Reconstruction in Georgia. But governor Rufus Bullock said military rule ended only when Congress actually admitted Georgia’s congressional delegation. Congress had adjourned before Georgia’s delegation took the oath of office, so Bullock announced that military rule would continue until Congress reconvened and Georgia’s congressional delegation could be sworn in. Elections were not held until late December, and the new congressional delegation was not seated until early 1871.
Jefferson Franklin Long became the first African-American congressman from Georgia.
A weak and ailing Robert E. Lee, on his way to visit Savannah, arrived in Augusta aboard an evening train. He stayed at a local hotel for two nights, where hundreds of visitors called on him, including several of his former generals. In the afternoon, Lee was driven through the streets to cheering crowds. The next morning, before boarding the train to Savannah, Lee spoke to a large crowd, thanking them for their hospitality. Among the crowd standing close to the Confederate icon was a young Woodrow Wilson, son of the minister of Augusta’s First Presbyterian Church. The following day Lee arrived in Savannah, greeted by thundering ovations. Arriving at the home of his host, Lee was greeted with cheering crowds and brass bands playing “Dixie,” “Hail to the Chief,” and “The Bonnie Blue Flag” late into the night. Unable to sleep with all the celebration outside, Lee finally had to depart out the back door and spend the night at the home of another friend.
Former Georgia governor Wilson Lumpkin died in Athens, Georgia.
Benjamin Hill issued the first call for a new South in a speech to the University of Georgia Alumni Society.
Georgia Republican governor Rufus Bullock submitted his resignation from office. After Georgia’s readmission to the Union and the removal of federal troops, Georgia voters had elected large Democratic majorities to both houses of the legislature. Many members of the new legislature pledged to impeach Bullock for his actions during Reconstruction. Rather than face impeachment, Bullock resigned one week before the new General Assembly convened and left the state, though he would eventually return and become a successful businessman and leading citizen in Atlanta.
Atlanta’s first mass transit system, which consisted of rail trolleys pulled by horses and mules, began operation.
Future University of Georgia football coach Glenn “Pop” Warner was born in New York.
Future prominent attorney and Georgia governor Hugh Dorsey was born in Fayetteville, Georgia.
Noted Georgia educator Steadman V. Sanford was born in Covington, Georgia.
Georgia born Cherokee Indian and Confederate general Stand Watie died in Oklahoma.
Radical Reconstruction came to an end in Georgia with the inauguration of Democrat James Milton Smith as governor. Georgia had been readmitted to the Union in 1870, and troops had been withdrawn in 1871, but to many this inauguration marked the real end of Reconstruction.
Henry Ossian Flipper, who would become the first African-American graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, enrolled there at West Point.
Former Georgia governor George Crawford died in Richmond County.
Future Georgia governor Thomas Hardwick was born in Thomasville, Georgia.
John B. Gordon was elected to the United States Senate. He, along with Joseph E. Brown and Alfred Colquitt, became known as the Bourbon Triumvirate; they would dominate Georgia politics for the rest of the decade.
Lawyer, politician, judge, and writer Garnett Andrews died in Washington, Georgia.
Historian Telamon Cuyler was born in Rome, Georgia. After his death Cuyler’s extensive Georgiana collection was willed to the University of Georgia Library.
Former Confederate general William J. Hardee died In Virginia. Born near Savannah, Hardee was a well-respected authority on military tactics whose infantry manual was used by both Confederate and Union armies.
In an editorial, Henry Grady first used the term “New South” to describe his vision of a South with growing industry and diversified agriculture, living harmoniously with the rest of the nation.
Confederate Memorial Day - April 26 - was designated a state holiday.
Georgia became the first to state to establish a Department of Agriculture.
The legislature passed a measure authorizing a convict lease system in which state prison inmates could be leased out to persons or companies for periods of one to five years.
Georgia born Roman Catholic priest James Augustine Healy was named Bishop of the Portland, Maine diocese, making him the first African-American bishop in America.
Future author Jacques Futrellee was born in Pike County. He became well known for detective stories involving fictional character Professor S.F.X. Van Dusen, better known as The Thinking Machine. Futrellee died in the 1912 sinking of the Titanic; his wife was the only native Georgian on board to survive the catastrophe.
Future artist Lucy May Stanton was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Showing great promise by age seven, she ultimately became famous for the unique style of her miniatures, which won numerous awards and critical acclaim. Collections of her work are still housed in many of America’s finest museums.
Alfred H. Colquitt was elected governor of Georgia.
Business entrepreneur and Atlanta promoter Ivan Allen, Sr. was born in Dalton, Georgia.
A constitutional convention drafted and adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1877 to replace the Reconstruction era Constitution of 1868. The Georgia electorate approved the new constitution in December. The most prominent voice at the convention was that of Robert Toombs. This constitution would stand for sixty-eight years, until 1945.
Georgia native Henry Ossian Flipper became the first African-American to graduate from the United States Military Academy in West Point.
The General Assembly passed legislation making it illegal for any person to operate a lottery in Georgia.
Future actor Charles Coburn was born in Savannah, Georgia.
Future Georgia governor Clifford Walker was born in Monroe, Georgia.
In December, Georgia voters elected to keep the state capital in Atlanta instead of moving it back to Milledgeville.
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