Battles & Major Events of the Civil War (1861 – 1865) Directions

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Battles & Major Events of the Civil War (1861 – 1865)


This packet will take place of notes on the Battles/Events of the Civil War so it is very important that you read each section, complete all questions and complete the map as instructed.

To complete this packet you will need: a pencil or pen, colored pencils, and a smile 

Background Information:

The Civil War is an exceptionally important event in American History. While the American Revolution created the United States, the Civil War determined what kind of nation the US would be. In the years prior to the Civil War, tensions between the North and South were increasing and the US was divided due to economic, cultural and constitutional differences. With the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and the secession of some Southern Slave states, war was inevitable.

Soon after Southern states began to secede (break away) from the Union, the Confederate States of America quickly seized nearly all federal property within its borders. Confederate President Jefferson Davis demanded that Northern troops abandon Fort Sumter in the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina but Sumter was one of only two forts that still remained in Union hands so Major Robert Anderson refused to leave. As a result, the Confederates surrounded the fort and considered President Lincoln sending supplies to Fort Sumter an act of war and opened fire. Cheered on by well-dressed ladies and gentlemen, who lined the waterfront, Confederate gunners fired some 4,000 shells at the fort during a 34-hour bombardment. Ultimately, Major Anderson and his 67 men surrendered in what would be considered the first Southern victory of the Civil War.
The First Shots of the War - Fort Sumter (April 12th, 1861):


  1. With your colored pencils, make your map key. Pick one color to represent UNION VICTORIES & one color to represent CONFEDERATE VICTORIES.

  2. Find the Battle Symbol for Fort Sumter on the Map. Color the symbol to represent a Confederate Victory.

  3. Next to Fort Sumter neatly write April 1861.

The First Major Battle of the War – The First Battle of Bull Run/Manassas (July 21st, 1861):

The firing on Fort Sumter marked the beginning of the Civil War and as a result, President Lincoln used his war powers to call for 75,000 volunteers to the rebellion. He also established a blockade of Southern ports. The Northern blockade was used to stop the few Southern merchant ships from trading with other nations to help raise money for war materials.

Once their army was assembled, the Union marched toward northern Virginia. Near the town of Manassas, on Bull Run Creek, the Union Army launched several assaults on Confederate positions. The First Battle of Bull Run would become the first major battle of the Civil War. During this battle, the Union was continuously driven back by the Confederate Army. It was here that Confederate general, Thomas J. Jackson, earned the nickname “Stonewall” Jackson, due to his determination and ability to hold Confederate ground despite the North’s advances. Ultimately, the Union lines broke and the overconfident North realized that the Civil War would be a long and difficult struggle.

  1. What is a blockade? Why do you think Lincoln & the Union Army decided to use this war tactic?

Blockade – preventing the entry or exit

Lincoln & the Union Army decided to use this war tactic in order to prevent any supplies (or things to help the Southern war effort) from entering the South.

  1. Why do you think the North was “overconfident” when first entering the war and during the First Battle of Bull Run?

The North may have been overconfident because they were already an established nation with a military, industry to help with war efforts, etc.

Additional answers may vary.


  1. Find the Battle Symbol for the Battle of Bull Run and color it to represent a Confederate Victory.

  2. Next to Battle of Bull Run neatly write JULY 1861.

Battle of Antietam (September 17th, 1862)

The Civil War became almost two separate conflicts. In the East, the Union wanted to capture Richmond, the capital of the Confederate States and in the West, the Union hoped to gain control of the Mississippi River, thereby dividing the Confederacy into two parts.

After the disastrous Battle of Bull Run, President Lincoln appointed General George B. McClellan commander of the Eastern Union Army. McClellan led more than 100,000 troops towards Richmond but did not succeed in capturing the Confederacy’s capital city.

After Southern victories in the Battle of Seven Days and the Second Battle of Bull Run, Confederate General Robert E. Lee decided to invade Union territory, hoping that a victory in the North would bring in help from foreign countries. McClellan and Lee met in Maryland at the Battle of Antietam for the bloodiest single day in the Civil War. The Battle of Antietam, a battle with no clear winner, resulted in an estimated 24,000 Northern and Southern casualties and forced General Lee to withdraw and retreat to Virginia.


  1. Find the Battle Symbol for the Battle of Antietam and do not color it! (No clear winner, remember?)

  2. Next to the Battle of Antietam neatly write SEPTEMBER 1862.

The Emancipation Proclamation (January 1st, 1863):

By July 1862, Mr. Lincoln decided that emancipation of slaves in areas in rebellion was militarily necessary to put an end to secession and was constitutionally justified by his powers as commander in chief. Written by Lincoln alone, without consultation from his cabinet, the proclamation declared that all persons held as slaves in states that were still in rebellion on January 1, 1863, "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, free." In this document, he issued an ultimatum to the seceded states: Return to the Union by New Year's Day or freedom will be extended to all slaves within your borders. No Confederate states took the offer, and on January 1 Lincoln presented the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln declared that over 3 million African American slaves "henceforward shall be free," that the "military and naval authorities" would now "recognize and maintain" that freedom, and that these newly freed slaves would "be received into the armed service of the United States" in order to make war on their former masters. This allowed black soldiers to fight for the Union -- soldiers that were desperately needed. It also tied the issue of slavery directly to the war. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.

It is important to remember that the Emancipation Proclamation did not free all slaves in the United States. Rather, it declared free only those slaves living in states not under Union control. Lincoln was fully aware of the irony, but he did not want to antagonize the "border states" by setting their slaves free. Intended both as a war and propaganda measure, the Emancipation Proclamation initially had far more symbolic than real impact, because the federal government had no means to enforce it at the time. But the document clearly and irrevocably notified the South and the world that the war was being fought not just to preserve the Union, but to put an end to the "peculiar institution." Eventually, as Union armies occupied more and more southern territory, the Proclamation turned into reality, as thousands of slaves were set free by the advancing federal troops.

  1. How did the Emancipation Proclamation tie the issue of slavery directly to the war?

The Emancipation Proclamation tied the issue of slavery directly to war because now the Civil War was being fought for not just the preservation of the Union but also for the freedom of slaves. Additionally, black soldiers were now allowed to fight for the Union after the Emancipation Proclamation.

  1. Why did the Emancipation Proclamation only free slaves in the Confederate States and not in the Union States?

The Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in Confederate States because the Union wanted to maintain the loyalty of those five border states that had slaves.

The Turning Point of the War - The Battle of Gettysburg (July 1st – 3rd, 1863):

After the failure of Antietam, the Confederacy victories at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville helped to boost General Lee’s confidence. Lee again felt that the South had to take the offensive in order to win the Civil War. The Confederate Army marched into Pennsylvania where they met the Union troops under General George G. Meade at Gettysburg. The Northern Army had 90,000 men and the Southern Army had 75,000 men. Meade’s Union forces occupied a strong defensive position overlooking the battlefield. Confederate assaults were driven back by the hail of bullets and shells. The Battle of Gettysburg was a Union victory that cost General Lee approximately 22,000 men. The battered Confederate Army never again had the strength to mount a major offensive. Gettysburg proved to be the turning point of the war.

  1. Why is Gettysburg considered to be the turning point of the Civil War?

Gettysburg is considered to be the turning point of the Civil War because the Confederate Army was never able to mount a strong offensive attack on the Union Army again. They had been devastated by this battle with approximately 22,000 men lost.


  1. Find the Battle Symbol for the Battle of Gettysburg and color it to represent a Union Victory

  2. Next to the Battle of Gettysburg neatly write JULY 1863.

The Battle of Vicksburg (July 4th, 1863):

The Northern objective on the Western front was to take control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy into two parts. After key Union victories in the West, Vicksburg, located on the Mississippi River between Memphis and New Orleans, was the only important city left along the river. Grant’s men surrounded Vicksburg and prevented supplies from reaching it. The city surrendered six weeks later on July 4th, 1863. The North now controlled the entire length of the Mississippi River.


  1. Find the Battle Symbol for the Battle of Vicksburg and color it to represent a Union Victory.

  2. Next to the Battle of Vicksburg write JULY 1863.

Surrender at Appomattox Court House (April 9th, 1865):

President Lincoln made General Grant the Commander of all Union armies. The West was now under Northern Control and Southern armies were being worn down by battle fatigue and mounting casualties. Additionally, Southern resources were dwindling because of the ever tightening blockade. Despite these hardships, the South continued to offer stiff resistance by winning the Battle of Cold Harbor in 1864.

It wasn’t until General Lee and his troops had to evacuate Petersburg and later Richmond that Lee realized it was useless to continue to fight. General Lee met with General Grant in the small settlement of Appomattox Court House and surrendered his army. Confederate forces in the other Southern states also surrendered. The Civil War was over and the Union had been saved.

  1. Why do you think that the Southern Army was continuing to fight in the last year of the Civil War despite the numerous challenges they faced?

The Southern Army continued to fight because they were fighting for their way of life, their economy and their beliefs. They were not just going to give up.

Additional answers may vary.


  1. Find the Battle Symbol for Appomattox Court House and color it to represent a Union Victory.

  2. Next to Appomattox Court House neatly write APRIL 9th, 1865

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