Tennessee Genealogical Society
The Civil War in Tennessee
This is a timeline for the major events surrounding the Civil War in
November: Abraham Lincoln elected President
February: A referendum on secession show East TN against,
Middle TN against, West TN for secession
April: TN refuses to answer Lincoln's call for volunteers
June: By more than two to one, TN votes for secession
February: For Donelson surrenders unconditionally to US General Ulysses S.
Grant. A critical Federal victory that pierces the heart of the South. A
relatively obscure Union general, Ulysses S. Grant, earns the nom de guerre
"Unconditional Surrender" and is promoted to major general.
April: Battle of Shiloh- An equivocal victory for the Union with enormous
losses on both sides including that of Confederate General Johnston. Timely
Union reinforcements from generals Crittenden, Nelson, and Wallace, and the
lack of same from Confederate General Van Dorn, help turn the tide in Grant's
favor. The death of Johnston is deeply mourned by Confederate President
Jefferson Davis, as it is throughout the South. Beauregard's retreat to
Corinth, MS further cements the Union's dominance in TN.
June: Naval Battle at Memphis:
December: Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro)- A crucial Federal victory
after the crushing defeat at Fredericksburg, VA. Technically considered a
military draw, Bragg's order to retreat is roundly criticized by his
September: Battle of Chickamauga
November: Battle of Chattanooga
Having regrouped from the Battle of Murfreesboro, Bragg's army lures
Rosecrans on September 19 into a trap at Chickamauga Creek just south of
Chattanooga. Longstreet, finding a hole in Rosecrans's line, routs the
Federals until General George H. Thomas stands firm on Snodgrass Hill,
earning him the sobriquet "Rock of Chickamauga."
Nevertheless, the defeated Federals retreat into Chattanooga. There,
blockaded by Bragg, Rosecrans's army faces either surrender or starvation.
Alarmed, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant joins Rosecrans's (whom he removes from
command), bringing with him 36,000 men under Generals Sherman and Hooker.
Foiling the blockade with a pontoon "Cracker Line" across the TN River at
Brown's Ferry, Grant is able to ferry Hooker's forces (and rations) into
Bragg (at Davis' order) sends Longstreet and Wheeler to Knoxville, a
dangerous decision, but one based on the impregnability of the Confederate
positions on the high ground - Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain, and
Orchard Knob, Grant decides to attack immediately.
On November 23, Thomas's men rout the Confederates from Orchard Knob. On the
24th Hooker's soldiers push the Confederates off Lookout Mtn, the fabled
"Battle Above the Clouds." With Bragg's forces now concentrated on
Missionary Ridge, Grant orders Thomas to attack. His men, disobeying orders,
pursue the Confederates up the mountainside, straying so close to the
fleeing enemy that the riflemen above shoot high in order to avoid hitting
their own men. That night the Confederates retreat into Georgia; the result
leaves the Union in control of nearly all of Tennessee.
November-December: Battles of Franklin & Nashville- On November 29, 1864,
General Hood outflanks Schofield's Federals and has them trapped. But that
night, while the Confederates sleep, the entire Union army sneaks past the
Confederate lines. Having escaped the trap, Schofield deploys his troops on
a long arc in a bend of the Harpeth River at Franklin.
April 9: Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders to
Union General Ulysses S. Grant
April 15: President Lincoln assassinated
April 16: TN war-governor Andrew Johnson becomes President
The information in this article was taken from the book