Civil War Timeline - Major Battles

For four years from 1861-1865, battles were waged around the landscape of the United States, pitting brother against brother in a Civil War that would change the history of the USA forever. Over 720,000 of our citizens would perish in the battle for state's rights and slavery. Major battles were fought from Pennsylvania to Florida, from Virginia to New Mexico, and in the end, there would be one nation, under God, and indivisible, that last trait in jeopardy through the first half of the 1860's. The battles listed below are considered Class A/B (Decisive/Major) battles by the American Battle Protection Program of the National Park Service.

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  • Battle Timeline

  • Battle of the Wilderness


    February 20, 1864 - Battle of Olustee - Class B.
    Strength: Union 5,500; Confederates 5,000.
    Casualties: Union 1,861; Confederates 946.
    Fierce battle in the only major conflict held in Florida during the war. Union General Seymour, sent to Jacksonville to disrupt supplies, marched to Tallahassee against orders, thinking quick victory against militias, but was met and defeated by troops from Charleston under General Colquitt.

    February 22, 1864 - Battle of Okolona - Class B.
    Strength: Union 7,000; Confederates 2,500.
    Casualties: Union 388; Confederates 144.
    Confederate cavalry under General Nathan Bedford Forrest defeats Union cavalry under General Smith as he makes a late attempt to rendezvous with Sherman's Meridian Expedition. Fight over eleven miles ends when Confederate reinforcements help rout the Union, but can not pursue due to lack of ammunition.

    March 12-14, 1864 - Fort de Russy - Class B.
    Strength: Union 10,000; Confederates 350.
    Casualties: Union 50; Confederates 324, including 317 captured.
    First engagement of the Red River campaign ends with Union victory in General Banks' goal to capture Shreveport, the headquarters for the Confederate Army's operation west of the Mississippi River. Surprise attack takes only twenty minutes and gains central Louisiana for the Union.

    April 8, 1864 - Battle of Sabine Crossroads - Class A.
    Strength: Union 14,000; Confederates 12,000.
    Casualties: Union 1,000; Confederates 694 (killed/wounded), 1,423 (captured/missing).
    In the final major battle of the Union's Red River campaign, a Confederate victory in the battle of staged reinforcements, stops the Federal attempt to capture Shreveport.

    April 9-13, 1864 - Battle of Prairie D' Ane - Class B.
    Strength: Union 13,000; Confederates 7,000.
    Casualties: Union 100; Confederates 50.
    Part of the Camden Expedition launched in conjunction with the Red River Campaign. General Steele was meant to drive south from Little Rock, pinch the Confederate Army, and meet up with General Banks, continuing into Texas. Despite a Union victory here, news of the Confederate victory at Sabine Crossroads caused Steele to abandon his mission and retreat north.

    April 9, 1864 - Battle of Pleasant Hill - Class B.
    Strength: Union 12,000; Confederates 12,100.
    Casualties: Union 1,369; Confederates 1,626, including 426 captured.
    Continuation of the Battle of Sabine Crossroads when Confederate General Taylor decides to assault the Union position sixteen miles southeast of the battlefield from the day before, but is defeated with heavy casualties on both sides. Union continues retreat to Grand Ecore, abandoning plans to capture Shreveport.

    April 12, 1864 - Battle of Fort Pillow - Class B.
    Strength: Union 600; Confederates 1,500-2,500
    Casualties: Union 182; Confederates 100.
    Battle along the Mississippi River in Tennessee forty miles north of Memphis ends in the massacre of black troops by General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

    May 5-7, 1864 - Wilderness - Class A.
    Strength: Union 124,000; Confederates 60-65,000.
    Casualties: Union 17,666; Confederates 11,033.
    First battle in the Overland Campaign between U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee proves inconclusive as the Union continued their offensive toward Richmond.

    May 8-21, 1864 - Spotsylvania Court House - Class A.
    Strength: Union 100-110,000; Confederates 50-53,000.
    Casualties: Union 18,399; Confederates 12,687.
    Subsequent battle in the Overland Campaign between U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, who dug entrenchments along a Mule Shoe line with the battle at the Bloody Angle for eighteen hours one of the most costly of the war. Inconclusive result as Grant continues toward Richmond.

    May 12-16, 1864 - Battle of Drewry's Bluff - Class B.
    Strength: Union 30,000; Confederates 18,000.
    Casualties: Union and Confederate, 6,600.
    Union General Butler attacks the Confederate forces at Proctor's Creek south of Richmond over several days. Cautious and disorganized attacks are met by Confederate General Ransom and defeat, retreating back to Bermuda Hundred.

    May 14-15, 1864 - Battle of Resaca - Class C.
    Strength: Union 98,787; Confederates 60,000.
    Casualties: Union 4-5,000, Confederate, 2,800.
    The battle, an early contest of the Atlanta Campaign, was considered inconclusive, but did not halt Sherman's drive toward the coming battles of the Atlanta Campaign, i.e. Kennesaw Mountain one month later, and the effective occupation of Atlanta in September.

    May 15, 1864 - Battle of New Market - Class B.
    Strength: Union 6,275; Confederates 4,087.
    Casualties: Union 841; Confederates 531.
    Part of General Grant's Shenandoah Valley Campaigns of 1864 under General Sigel is defeated by a haphazard Confederate Army of General Brekinridge and cadets from the Virginia Military Academy. Aftermath of the battle: Union forced from the valley, General Sigel replaced by General Hunter, and Confederate Army able to benefit from the crops harvested by local farmers.

    May 23-26, 1864 - Battle of North Anna - Class B.
    Strength: Union 67,000-100,000; Confederates 50,000-53,000.
    Casualties: Union 3,986; Confederates 1,552.
    Moving south from the Spotsylvania battlefield in the Overland Campaign, General Grant engages Lee in several actions with varying success; Telegraph Road Bridge, Jericho Mills, Ox Ford, Quarles Mill, and Hanover Junction. Inconclusive outcome leads to Grant moving southeast toward Cold Harbor.

    May 28-30, 1864 - Battle of Totopotomy Creek - Class B.
    Strength: Union 1 corps; Confederates 1 corps.
    Casualties: Union 731; Confederates 1,593.
    General Robert E. Lee attacks the Union 5th Corps with Early's 2nd Corps as the Union moved toward Cold Harbor. Inconclusive outcome. Now part of Richmond National Battlefield Park.

    May 31 - June 12, 1864 - Battle of Cold Harbor - Class A.
    Strength: Union 108-117,000; Confederates 59-62,000.
    Casualties: Union 12,738; Confederates 5,287.
    In the first major battle of the 1864 pursuit of Richmond near the city, Grant encounters fortified positions, yet assaults their front in a series of battles on the south and northern ends of the line. One of the most lopsided engagements of the war.

    June 5, 1864 - Battle of Piedmont - Class B.
    Strength: Union 8,500; Confederates 5,500.
    Casualties: Union 875; Confederates 1,500, including 1,000 captured.
    After replacing General Sigel with General Hunter in command of Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley, Hunter has his first major action against the forces of General Jones. Union rout allows Hunter to occupy Staunton.

    June 10, 1864 - Battle of Brice's Crossroads - Class B.
    Strength: Union 8,100; Confederates 3,500.
    Casualties: Union 2,240; Confederates 497.
    Significant victory for the Confederates under General Forrest, defeating larger force of Union under General Sturgis. Mississippi citizens played a large part in the victory, providing Forrest with important intelligence of Union movements.

    June 11-12, 1864 - Battle of Trevilian Station - Class B.
    Strength: Union 9,286; Confederates 6,762.
    Casualties: Union 1,512; Confederates 813.
    Cavalry battle during the Overland Campaign pitting General Sheridan vs. General Fitzhugh Lee and Wade Hampton. Largest all cavalry battle of the war ends in tactical victory for the Confederates as Sheridan rejoins Grant's main army after failing to permanantly destroy the Virginia Central Railroad.

    June 15-18, 1864 - Second Battle of Petersburg - Class A.
    Strength: Union 13,000 (Day 1) to 62,000 (Day 4); Confederates 5,400 (Day 1) to 38,000 (Day 4).
    Casualties: Union 11,386; Confederates 4,000.
    Four days of battles with increasing reinforcements saw Union assaults and a series of mistakes against smaller Confederate forces in strong defensive positions. Due to the Confederate strength and victory, the Union begins the ten month Siege of Petersburg.

    June 17-18, 1864 - Battle of Lynchburg - Class B.
    Strength: Union 16,643; Confederates 14,000.
    Casualties: Union 75; Confederates 6.
    Valley Campaign of 1864 continues when General Hunter attempts to capture the supply town of Lynchburg, but fails against General Jubal Early's troops, who now, with Hunter's retreat into West Virginia, had free range up the Shenandoah Valley toward Washington, D.C.

    June 21-23, 1864 - Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road - Class B.
    Strength: Union 27,000; Confederates 8,000.
    Casualties: Union 2,962; Confederates 572.
    First battle in Petersburg Campaign to extend Union siege lines west and destroy the Weldon Railroad. Outcome of Union failure to destroy the railroad, but extending their lines lead to battle draw.

    June 27, 1864 - Battle of Kennesaw Mountain - Class B.
    Strength: Union 16,225; Confederates 17,733.
    Casualties: Union 3,000; Confederates 1,000.
    Frontal assault by General Sherman in Atlanta Campaign is defeated by Confederate General Johnston's troops, but victory fails to stop Sherman's march to the city.

    Note: Photo above: Battle walk in the woods of the Wilderness Battlefield during the 150th anniversary in 2014. Casualty and troop strength numbers from Wikipedia Commons.

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