The Smithsonian

January 1, 1863
Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, which declares that slaves in the seceded states are now free.

March 3
President Lincoln signs a federal draft act.

April 7
In a test of ironclad vessels against land fortifications, Union Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont’s fleet fails to penetrate the harbor defenses of Charleston.

May 1–4
Lee hands the Army of the Potomac another serious loss at the Battle of Chancellorsville. “Stonewall” Jackson is wounded during the battle. He will develop pneumonia and die on May 10.

June 9
Confederate cavalry under Jeb Stuart clash with the Union mounts of Alfred Pleasonton in an all day battle at Brandy Station, Virginia. Some 18,000 troopers—approximately nine thousand on either side—take part, making this the largest cavalry battle on American soil. In the end, Stuart will hold the field. Yet this battle signals the rise and future domination of Union cavalry in the eastern theater.

July 1–3
The Battle of Gettysburg is fought in Pennsylvania. General George G. Meade compromises his victory by allowing Lee to retreat South across the Potomac.

July 4
After a long siege, Confederates surrender Vicksburg to Ulysses S. Grant, thus securing the Mississippi River for the Union.

July 13–15
Violent riots erupt in New York City in protest of the draft.

September 19–20
Confederates under General Braxton Bragg win a great tactical victory at Chickamauga, Georgia. Union General George H. Thomas wins the nickname "Rock of Chickamauga" for his stubborn defense of his position.

November 19
Lincoln delivers his Gettysburg Address, in which he reiterates the nation’s fundamental principle that all men are created equal.

November 23–25
After three days of battle, the Union victory at Chattanooga, Tennessee, opens the way for Union advancement into the heart of the Confederacy.

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