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Timeline: 1861

January

5:   Star of the West sails from New York with supplies and reinforcements for Fort Sumter
8:   Secretary of the Interior Jacob Thompson (Mississippi) resigns
9:   Star of the West fired on as the ship enters Charleston Harbor, preventing resupply of Major Anderson’s garrison
9:   Mississippi secedes from the Union
10: Florida secedes from the Union
11: Alabama secedes from the Union
11: Secretary of the Treasury Philip F. Thomas (Maryland) resigns; he was the last Southerner in Buchanan’s cabinet
19: Georgia secedes from the Union
21: Five more Southern senators resign, including Jefferson Davis
26: Louisiana secedes from the Union
29: Kansas admitted to the Union as a free state

February

1:  Texas secedes from the Union
4:  Peace Conference opens in Washington, D.C.
4:  Virginia elects a pro-Union majority to its secession convention
4:  Montgomery Convention, to organize the Confederate government, opens in Montgomery, Alabama,
8:  A constitution for a provisional Confederate government is adopted
9:  Jefferson Davis and Alexander H. Stephens selected provisional president and vice-president of the Confederate States of America
11: Abraham Lincoln leaves Illinois to travel to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration
15: The Mongomery Convention passes a resolution to take Fort Sumter (S.C.) and Fort Pickens (Fla.), by force if necessary
18: Jefferson Davis is inaugurated at Montgomery as provisional president of the Confederate States of America
23: Lincoln arrives in Washington, D.C., after a secret overnight trip to avoid a potential assassination plot

March

1:   U.S. Congress refuses to consider proposals from the Peace Conference
2:   Congress passes the Morrill Tariff Act
4:   Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration as president
5:   Lincoln’s cabinet announced
6:   Davis’ cabinet is completed, and the Confederacy calls for 100,000 volunteers
11: Permanent Confederate constitution adopted
29: Lincoln’s cabinet takes strong stand on holding federal forts in Southern states

April

4:   Lincoln orders a relief expedition sent to Fort Sumter
8:   The relief expedition leaves New York
12: Confederate attack on Fort Sumter
13: Major Anderson surrenders Fort Sumter
15: Lincoln calls for troops
16: Wisconsin Governor Randall calls for volunteers to fill 1 regiment
16: Governor Randall writes to the Hudson City Guards requesting their service
17: Virginia secedes from the Union, ratified by voters May 23
18: Robert E. Lee is offered command of the Union armies;
18: The Union garrison abandons Harper’s Ferry and the Armory is destroyed by Confederates
19: Lincoln declares a blockade of Confederate ports from South Carolina to Texas
19: Riot in Baltimore between members of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment traveling through Baltimore, and Southern sympathizers, is considered by many to be the first bloodshed of the Civil War
20: Robert E. Lee resigns from the U.S. Army
20: Hudson City Guards respond affirmatively to Governor Randall’s request
20: Call for volunteers for the Prescott Guards published in local newspaper
27: The blockade is extended to North Carolina and Virginia

May

6:   Arkansas secedes from the Union
7:   Tennessee secedes from the Union, ratified by voters June 8
20: North Carolina secedes from the Union; Kentucky proclaims its neutrality
21: Confederate Congress votes to move its capital to Richmond, Virginia
23: Virginia votes to join the Confederacy
24: Federal troops enter Virginia and occupy Alexandria;  Elmer E. Ellsworth becomes the first Union officer killed in the Civil War

June

3:   Battle of Philippi in Virginia (now West Virginia)—Union army routs the Confederates; first “organized” battle of the war; Major General George B. MClellan is propelled into the national spotlight
3:   Stephen A. Douglas dies from typhoid fever
10: Battle of Big Bethel in Virginia—Confederate victory
11: Counties in western Virginia refuse to secede and set up their own state government, which is recognized by Washington as the true Virginia state government
24-26: Milwaukee (Wis.) Bank Riot, in which the Hudson City Guards assist in restoring the peace
26: Prescott Guards leave for Camp Randall

July

5:   Battle of Carthage, in Missouri—Confederates’ first victory in Missouri
9:   4th Wisconsin Infantry mustered in (including the Hudson City Guards, as Company G) at Camp Utley in Racine
11: Battle of Rich Mountain in Virginia (now West Virginia)—Union victory; McClellan’s victory was instrumental in propelling him to command of the Army of the Potomac
13: Battle of Corrick’s Ford in Virginia (now West Virginia)—Union victory
15-22: 4th Wisconsin Infantry leaves Wisconsin headed for Baltimore, Maryland
16:  6th Wisconsin Infantry mustered in (including the Prescott Guards, as Company B) at Camp Randall in Madison
20: Confederate Congress convenes at Richmond, Virginia
21: First Battle of Bull Run(1st Manassas)—Confederates rout the Union forces
25: U.S. Congress passes the Crittenden Resolution, which declares the preservation of the Union to be the objective of the war
27: McClellan replaces McDowell as commander of the Union troops in the Washington area
28: 6th Wisconsin Infantry leaves Wisconsin headed for Washington, D.C.

August

6:   U.S. Congress passes the Confiscation Act, which provides for the seizure of property—including slaves—used for insurrectionary purposes
10: Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missoui; Nathaniel Lyon is the first general killed in action in the war
28: Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant is given command of the Union troops in Missouri and Illinois
28-29: Battle of Hatteras Inlet in North Carolina—Union victory for Major General Benjamin F. Butler
30: Major General John C. Frémont proclaims martial law in Missouri, orders confiscation of Confederate sympathizers’ property and slaves

September 

2:  Battle of Dry Wood Creek, or just Drywood
4:  Columbus, Kentucky, is seized by Confederate Major General Leonidas Polk, ending the state’s neutrality
6:  Union troops under General Ulysses S. Grant capture Paducah, Kentucky; gives control of the mouth of the Tennessee River to the Union
10: General Albert Sidney Johnston is given command of the Confederate armies in the West
11: President Lincoln orders Frémont to modify his Missouri slave and property confiscation proclamation to conform to the Confiscation Act
13: 8th Wisconsin Infantry mustered in (including the Eau Claire Eagles, as Company C) at Camp Randall in Madison
13-20: First Battle of Lexington/Siege of Lexington, sometimes known as the Battle of the Hemp Bales, in Lexington, Missouri—Confederate victory for General Sterling Price and the Missouri State Guard
17: Judah P. Benjamin, the first Confederate Attorney General, becomes the second Confederate States Secretary of War (he is succeeded as Attorney General by Thomas Bragg on November 21, 1861)
28: Munson’s Hill/Upton’s Hill, Virginia—Confederate Army withdrew leaving Union Army to discover that the Confederate cannon were merely logs painted black

 October

8:   Brigadier General William T. Sherman assumes command of the Union army in Kentucky, replacing Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter fame
9:   Battle of Santa Rosa Island—an unsuccessful Confederate attempt to take Union-held Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island, Florida
12: 8th Wisconsin Infantry leaves Wisconsin headed for Saint Louis, Missouri
21: Battle of Ball’s Bluff in Virginia—Confederate victory for Colonel Nathan G. “Shanks” Evans; Evans was promoted to brigadier general as a result of the battle; Union Colonel Edward D. Baker is killed during the battle
21: Battle of Fredericktown—Union victory consolidated their control of southeastern Missouri
28: The Lyon Guards or Lyon Light Guards leave Prescott, arriving at Camp Randall in Madison on the 30th

November

1:   Suffering from gout and rheumatism, Brigadier General Winfield Scott resigns as the Union general-in-chief; George B. McClellan is appointed to replace him
2:   Union General John C. Frémont is relieved as commander o the Department of the West
6:   Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens are elected to a full six-year term as president and vice-president of the Confederacy
7:   Battle of Port Royal, between Savannah and Charleston in South Carolina—Union victory
7:   Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant raids Confederate camps at Belmont, Missouri
9:   Union Army reorganization creates a military Department of Kansas under General David Hunter
9:   General Orders, No. 97 creates a new Department of the Ohio (Army of the Ohio), to be commanded by Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell
15:  General Orders, No. 1 announces that Buell “hereby assumes command” of the Department of the Ohio
19: Major General Henry W. Halleck takes command of the Department of Missouri
22: Battle of Pensacola in Florida

December

3:   President Lincoln’s first State of the Union message sent to Congress
13: 12th Wisconsin Infantry mustered in (including the Lyon Guards or Lyon Light Guards, as Company A) at Camp Randall in Madison
13:  Battle of Camp Allegheny in western Virginia
17:  Battle of Rowlett’s Station in Kentucky, the 1st Wisconsin Infantry almost took part
18:  Saint Croix Valley volunteers in what will become the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry, Company D, leave for Milwaukee; called in the newspapers both Saint Croix Lancers and Saint Croix Rangers
20: Battle of Dranesville in Virginia—Union victory

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