The Smithsonian

March 10, 1864
Newly commissioned to the rank of lieutenant general, Ulysses S. Grant is given official authority to command all of the armies of the United States.

May 5–6
The Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia is the first of a bloody series of month-long engagements between Grant and Lee.

May 10–12
Battles at Spotsylvania Court House and Yellow Tavern impede Grant’s drive for Richmond. Confederate cavalry commander Jeb Stuart is killed at Yellow Tavern, May 11.

June 1–3
The Battle of Cold Harbor results in heavy Union casualties. Grant prepares for a ten month siege of Petersburg.

June 19
The USS Kearsarge sinks the CSS Alabama off Cherbourg, France, where the Confederate raider was bound for refitting.

June 28
Lincoln signs a bill repealing the fugitive slave laws.

July 11–12
Confederate forces under Jubal Early probe and fire upon the northern defenses of Washington, D.C., throwing the Capital into a state of high alert.

August 5
Union Admiral David G. Farragut wins the Battle of Mobile Bay.

September 2
After forcing the Confederate army of John Bell Hood out of Atlanta, Georgia, General William T. Sherman captures the city, a major munitions center for the South.

October 19
A Union victory at Cedar Creek ends the Confederate threat in the Shenandoah Valley.

November 8
Lincoln is reelected President, with Andrew Johnson as Vice President.

November 16
Sherman leaves Atlanta and begins his “march to the sea,” in an attempt to demoralize the South and hasten surrender.

December 15–16
General George Henry Thomas wins the Battle of Nashville, decimating John Bell Hood's Confederate Army of Tennessee.

December 21
Savannah falls to Sherman’s army without resistance. Sherman gives the city to Lincoln as a Christmas present.

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