Historical Events in 1861

  • Jan 1 Porfirio Diaz conquers Mexico City
  • Jan 2 Colonel Charles Stone is put in charge of organizing DC militia
  • Jan 2 South Carolina seizes inactive Ft Johnson in Charleston Harbor
  • Jan 3 US Fort Pulaski and Fort Jackson, Savannah, seized by Georgia
  • Jan 3 US state of Delaware legislature rejects proposal to join Confederacy
  • Jan 4 US Ft Morgan, Mobile, seized by Alabama
  • Jan 5 250 Federal troops are sent from New York to Ft Sumter
  • Jan 5 Alabama troops seize Forts Morgan & Gaines at Mobile Bay
  • Jan 6 Florida troops seize Federal arsenal at Apalachicola
  • Jan 6 NYC mayor proposes NY become a free city, trading with North and South
  • Jan 7 Florida troops takeover Fort Marion at St Augustine (US Civil War)
  • Jan 8 US Civil War: Union forces abandon Fort Barrancas in favor of Fort Pikens on Santa Rosa Island, near Pensacola, Florida

Battle of Fort Sumter

Jan 9 A Union merchant ship, the Star of the West, is fired upon as it tries to deliver supplies to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina

  • Jan 9 Mississippi secedes from the Union (US Civil War)
  • Jan 10 Florida secedes from the Union (US Civil War)
  • Jan 10 Fort Jackson & Fort Philip are taken over by LA state troops (US Civil War)
  • Jan 10 US forts & property seized by Mississippi
  • Jan 11 Alabama secedes from the Union (US Civil War)
  • Jan 11 Mexico City captured by Juarez (Lib) in War of Reform
  • Jan 12 Florida state troops demand surrender of Fort Pickens (US Civil War)

Steam Elevator Patented

Jan 15 Steam elevator patented by Elisha Otis

  • Jan 15 US Civil War: Union forces at Fort Pikens on Santa Rosa Island near Pensacola, Florida refuse Florida Militia demand to surrender
  • Jan 19 Georgia secedes from the Union (US Civil War)
  • Jan 19 Mississippi troops take Fort Massachusetts and Ship Island (US Civil War)

Jefferson Davis Resigns

Jan 21 Jefferson Davis of Mississippi and 4 other southern senators resign (U.S Civil War)

  • Jan 24 Federal troops from Fort Monroe are sent to Fort Pikens on Santa Rosa Island near Pensacola, Florida
  • Jan 25 Arsenal Augustaseized by Confederacy in Georgia (US Civil War)
  • Jan 26 Louisiana secedes from the Union (US Civil War)
  • Jan 29 US state of Kansas admitted to the Union as the 34th state
  • Jan 31 Friedrich Hebbel's play "Siegfrieds Tod" premieres in Weimar
  • Jan 31 State of Louisiana takes over US Mint at New Orleans (U.S Civil War)
  • Feb 1 Dike breaks in Gelderland, Netherlands
  • Feb 1 Texas secedes from the Union (which precipitates the American Civil War)
  • Feb 2 The "Organized Incorporated Territory of Nevada" is created, lasting until October 31st, 1864
  • Feb 4 Confederate constitutional convention meets for 1st time; Jefferson Davis elected President of Confederacy (US Civil War)
  • Feb 5 Kinematoscope patented by Coleman Sellers, Philadelphia
  • Feb 5 Louisiana delegation except Mr Bouligny withdraws from Congress (US Civil War)
  • Feb 6 1st meeting of Provisional Congress of Confederate States of America (US Civil War)
  • Feb 6 British Vice-Admiral Robert Fitzroy issues first storm warnings for ships
  • Feb 8 Confederate States of America organizes in Montgomery, Alabama (US Civil War)

Constitution of the United States

Feb 9 Confederate Provisional Congress declares all laws under the US Constitution were consistent with constitution of Confederate states (US Civil War)

  • Feb 9 Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens elected President and VP of the Confederate States of America (US Civil War)
  • Feb 9 Tennessee votes against secession (US Civil War)
  • Feb 11 US House unanimously passes resolution guaranteeing noninterference with slavery in any state

Event of Interest

Feb 11 US President-elect Abraham Lincoln takes train from Spingfield IL to Washington, D.C.

  • Feb 12 State troops seize US munitions in Napoleon, Arkansas, during the US Civil War
  • Feb 13 Abraham Lincoln declared US President in Washington, D.C.
  • Feb 13 Colonel Bernard Irwin attacks & defeats hostile Chiricahua Indians
  • Feb 13 First military action to result in Congressional Medal of Honor, Arizona
  • Feb 15 Fort Point, in San Francisco, California, completed & garrisoned (but has never fired cannon in anger)

Abraham Lincoln, the Presidential Icon

Feb 16 Abraham Lincoln stops his train at Westfield on his way to Washington to thank 11-year old Grace Bedell in person for her advice to grow a beard to gain more votes

Event of Interest

Feb 18 King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia becomes first King of Italy

  • Feb 20 Navy of the Confederate States (CSN) forms (US Civil War)
  • Feb 21 Navaho indians elect Herrero Grande as chief
  • Feb 21 Steeple of Chichester Cathedral collapses despite the desperate efforts of 70 workmen
  • Feb 22 On a bet Edward Weston leaves Boston to walk to Lincoln's inauguration
  • Feb 23 Dutch Prime Minister Floris van Hall resigns
  • Feb 27 Russians shoot at Poles protesting Russian rule of Poland in Castle Square, Warsaw
  • Feb 27 US Congress authorizes 1st stamped newspaper wrappers for mailing
  • Mar 2 Government Printing Office purchases 1st printing plant, Washington
  • Mar 2 US creates Dakota & Nevada Territories out of the Nebraska & Utah territories

Emancipation of the Serfs

Mar 3 Alexander II of Russia signs the Emancipation Manifesto, freeing serfs and granting them the full rights of free citizens [O.S. Feb 19]

  • Mar 4 Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the 16th US President
  • Mar 4 Confederate States adopt "Stars & Bars" flag (US Civil War)
  • Mar 4 US President Abraham Lincoln opens Government Printing Office
  • Mar 6 Provisionary Confederate Congress establishes Confederate Army
  • Mar 8 St Augustine Florida surrenders to Union armies
  • Mar 9 Us Confederate currency authorized - $50, $100, $500, $1,000
  • Mar 10 West African political leader El Hadj Umar Tall seizes the city of Segou, destroying the Bambara Empire of Mali
  • Mar 11 Confederate convention in Montgomery adopts constitution (US Civil War)
  • Mar 13 23rd Grand National: Joseph Kendall wins aboard Jealousy at 5/1
  • Mar 16 Arizona Territory votes to leave the Union (US Civil War)
  • Mar 16 Confederate government appoints commissioners to Britain

Sam Houston Evicted

Mar 16 Edward Clark becomes Governor of Texas, replacing Sam Houston, who is evicted from the office for refusing to take an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy (US Civil War)

Unification of Italy

Mar 17 Italy is unified into a single kingdom under Victor Emmanuel II following the campaigns led by Giuseppe Garibaldi

  • Mar 19 The First Taranaki War ends in New Zealand
  • Mar 20 An earthquake completely destroys Mendoza, Argentina
  • Mar 22 1st US nursing school chartered
  • Mar 23 London's 1st tramcars, designed by Mr Train of NY, begins operating
  • Mar 31 Confederacy takes over mint at New Orleans (US Civil War)
  • Apr 5 Federals abandon Ft Quitman, Texas
  • Apr 8 US mint at Dahlonega, Georgia, seized by Confederacy (US Civil War)
  • Apr 12 Fort Sumter in South Carolina is attacked by the Confederacy, beginning the American Civil War
  • Apr 13 After 34 hours of bombardment, Fort Sumter surrenders to Confederates (US Civil War)
  • Apr 14 Formal Union surrender of Fort Sumter (US Civil War)
  • Apr 15 Federal army (75,000 volunteers) mobilized by US President Abraham Lincoln (US Civil War)
  • Apr 16 US President Abraham Lincoln outlaws business with Confederate States (US Civil War)
  • Apr 17 Indianola TX - "Star of West" taken by Confederacy
  • Apr 17 Virginia secedes from the Union (US Civil War)

Event of Interest

Apr 18 Colonel Robert E. Lee turns down offer to command Union armies (US Civil War)

  • Apr 19 Baltimore riots - 4 soldiers, 9 civilians killed
  • Apr 19 Lincoln orders blockade of Confederate ports (Civil War)
  • Apr 23 Arkansas troops seize Fort Smith on the Arkansas River
  • Apr 23 Robert E. Lee named commander of Virginia Confederate forces (US Civil War)
  • Apr 25 Battle of Lavaca, fought in Texas, Union victory (US Civil War)
  • Apr 25 The Union Army arrives to reinforce Washington, D.C. (US Civil War)
  • Apr 27 US President Abraham Lincoln suspends writ of habeas corpus (US Civil War)
  • Apr 27 West Virginia secedes from Virginia after Virginia secedes from Union (US Civil War)
  • Apr 29 Maryland's House of Delegates votes against seceding from Union (US Civil War)
  • Apr 30 US President Abraham Lincoln orders Federal Troops to evacuate Indian Territory (US Civil War)
  • May 1 Lee orders Confederate troops under T J Jackson to Harper's Ferry
  • May 3 General Winfield Scott presents his Anaconda Plan for the North against the South in American Civil War
  • May 3 Lincoln asks for 42,000 Army Volunteers and another 18,000 seamen
  • May 4 At Gretna, Louisiana, one of 1st guns of Rebel navy is cast
  • May 5 Alexandria, Virginia - Confederate troops abandon the city
  • May 6 Arkansas & Tennessee becomes 9th & 10th states to secede from US
  • May 7 Riot occurs between prosecessionist & Union supporters in Knoxville TN
  • May 8 Richmond, Virginia, is named the capital of the Confederacy in the US
  • May 10 Union troops march on state militia in St Louis, Missouri

Event of Interest

May 13 Queen Victoria announces Britain's position of neutrality

  • May 13 The Great Comet of 1861 is discovered by John Tebbutt of Windsor, New South Wales, Australia
  • May 14 The Canellas meteorite, an 859-gram chondrite-type meteorite, strikes the earth near Barcelona, Spain
  • May 16 Confederate government offers war volunteers $10 premium
  • May 16 Kentucky proclaims its neutrality
  • May 16 Major General Twiggs surrenders to Confederate Army in San Antonio, Texas (US Civil War)

Famous Photo

May 17 First color photograph of a tartan ribbon shown by Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell to the Royal Institution in London

  • May 18 Battle of Sewall's Point Virginia - 1st Federal offense against the South
  • May 18 Friedrich Hebbel's play "Kriemhildes Rache" premieres in Weimar
  • May 20 Cornerstone of University of Washington laid in Seattle
  • May 20 Kentucky proclaims its neutrality in Civil War
  • May 20 North Carolina becomes 11th and last state to secede from the Union
  • May 20 US Marshals, in search of secessionist evidence, seize the previous year's telegraph dispatches
  • May 21 Richmond, Virginia, is designated the Confederate Capital
  • May 23 3 fleeing slaves enter Fort Monroe, Virginia
  • May 23 Virginia citizens vote 3 to 1 in favor of secession from the Union
  • May 24 Alexandria, Virginia occupied by Federal troops

Event of Interest

May 24 Union Major General Benjamin Butler declares slaves "contraband of war"

  • May 25 John Merryman is arrested under suspension of writ of habeas corpus it later sparks a supreme court decision protecting writ
  • May 26 Union blockades towns of New Orleans and Mobile
  • May 26 US Postmaster General Blair announces end of postal connection with South

Event of Interest

May 29 Dorothea Dix offers help in setting up hospitals for the Union Army

  • May 31 General Beauregard is given command of Confederate Alexandria Line
  • May 31 Mint at New Orleans closes
  • Jun 1 1st skirmish in US Civil War at Fairfax Court House, Virginia
  • Jun 1 British territorial waters & ports off-limits during Civil War
  • Jun 1 Skirmish at Arlington Mills, Virginia
  • Jun 1 US & Confederacy simultaneously stop mail interchange
  • Jun 3 1st American Civil War land battle: Union forces defeat the Confederacy at Philippi in modern-day West Virginia
  • Jun 5 Federal marshals seize arms and gunpower at Du Pont works DE
  • Jun 6 Lincoln's cabinet declares Union government will pay for expenses once states have mobilized volunteers
  • Jun 8 American Civil War: Tennessee votes to secede from the Union
  • Jun 8 US Sanitary Commission is given executive approval
  • Jun 10 Battle of Big Bethel Virginia (Bethel Church, Great Bethal) the Union retreats
  • Jun 12 Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson calls for 50,000 volunteers to stop Federal "invasion" from taking over his state after US Army forces led by Nathaniel Lyon arrest pro-Confederate state militia at Fort Jackson

Event of Interest

Jun 14 Harpers Ferry evacuated by rebels in face of General George McClellan's advance

  • Jun 15 Johnston evacuates Harpers Ferry
  • Jun 16 Battle of Vienna, Virginia and Secessionville, South Carolina (James Island)
  • Jun 17 Battle of Boonville, MI-Brigadier General Lyon defeats Confederate forces
  • Jun 19 Anaheim Post Office established
  • Jun 19 Francis Pierpont is elected provisional governor of West Virginia
  • Jun 24 Battle of Mathias Point, Virginia Union forces attack Confederate batteries
  • Jun 24 Tennessee becomes 11th (& last) state to secede from Union
  • Jun 28 Leipzig Observatory discovers short-period (6.2 yrs) Comet d'Arrest
  • Jun 30 CSS Sumter slips past USS Brooklyn blockade
  • Jul 1 1st public schoolhouse opens at Washington and Mason St, San Francisco
  • Jul 1 US War Department decrees that Kansas and Tennessee are to be canvassed for volunteers
  • Jul 2 Battle of Hoke's Run, West Virginia - small Union victory
  • Jul 3 Colonel Jackson receives his commission as brigadier general
  • Jul 3 Martinsburg, Virginia - Confederate forces pull out before US advance

Pony Express

Jul 3 Pony Express arrives in San Francisco with overland letters from NY

  • Jul 4 In a special session of 27th Congress Lincoln requests 400,000 troops
  • Jul 4 Skirmish at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
  • Jul 5 Battle of Carthage, Missouri - US General Sigel attacks pro-secessionist
  • Jul 7 Battle of Laurel Hill, Virginia
  • Jul 8 Confederate General Sibley is given command of rebel troops in New Mexico territory
  • Jul 10 Lincoln writes to Kentucky's militia and says Union troops will not enter that state
  • Jul 11 Battle of Laurel Mountain Virginia - General Morris forces retreat of rebels
  • Jul 11 Battle of Rich Mountain, Virginia - Rosecrans forces rebels to surrender

Event of Interest

Jul 12 Wild Bill Hickok reputed to have shot and killed David McCanles, possibly his first kill. Hickok later acquitted after found he acted in self defense.

  • Jul 13 Battle of Corrick's Ford, Virginia (Carrick's Ford) - Union army takes total control of western Virginia
  • Jul 14 General McDowell advances toward Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia with 40,000 troops
  • Jul 14 Naval Engagement at Wilmington North Carolina - USS Daylight establishes blockade
  • Jul 16 Manassas Campaign [->JUL 22]
  • Jul 17 At Manassas, Virginia General Beauregard requests reinforcements for his 22,000 men, General Johnston is ordered to Manassas
  • Jul 17 US Congress authorizes paper money
  • Jul 18 Battle of Blackburn's Ford, Virginia
  • Jul 20 Confederate states' congress began holding sessions in Richmond, Virginia
  • Jul 21 First Battle of Bull Run [Battle of First Manassas], 1st major battle of the US Civil War is fought near Manassas, Virginia, Confederate victory
  • Jul 25 Skirmish at Fort Fillmore, New Mexico Territory - Rebels attack Union troops
  • Jul 25 Washington, D.C. - Crittenden resolution is passed stating that the war is to be fought to preserve union and uphold the Constitution, not to alter slavery
  • Jul 27 Battle of Mathias Point, Virginia - Rebel forces repel a Federal landing
  • Jul 27 Battle of St Augustine Springs, New Mexico Territory
  • Jul 27 Confederate troops occupy Fort Fillmore, New Mexico
  • Jul 27 Union General George McClellan takes command from McDowell of Potomac Army
  • Jul 31 9,300 mm rainfall in July in Cherrapunji, Assam: then world record
  • Aug 1 Brazil recognizes Confederacy
  • Aug 2 Skirmish at Dug Springs, Missouri results in Union victory
  • Aug 3 Federal fleet bombards Galveston, Texas
  • Aug 5 Naval Engagement at Fernandina, Florida, the USS Vincennes ends rebel blockade
  • Aug 5 President Lincoln signs the first US personal Income Tax into law (3% of incomes over $800)
  • Aug 5 Union enlistment increases from 3 months to 2 years
  • Aug 5 US Army abolishes flogging
  • Aug 6 Lexington, Kentucky - Union military camp forms in neutral state
  • Aug 6 The British annex Lagos, Nigeria
  • Aug 6 US Congress passes First Confiscation Act
  • Aug 10 Battle of Wilson's Creek [Battle of Oak Hills], fought near Springfield, Missouri, General Lyon killed, Confederate victory (US Civil War)
  • Aug 12 Skirmish at Texas - rebels are attacked by Apache Indians
  • Aug 14 79th NY troops mutinies
  • Aug 14 Martial Law is declared at St Louis, Missouri, due to pro-secession sentiment which surged throughout Missouri after the Battle of Wilson's Creek