Timeline of American Civil War
This is the timeline of American Civil War
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Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States. More info
Secessionists meet in convention in Montgomery, Alabama to provide a government for the seceded States beginning on February 4. They act as the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America. On February 8, the convention drafts a Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States of America. The Confederate States of America (the "Confederacy") is not recognized by the United States government or any foreign government. Border states initially refuse to join Confederacy. On February 9, the convention chooses Jefferson Davis as Provisional President and Alexander Stephens as Provisional Vice President of the Confederate States. On February 10, Davis is surprised to learn of his election as Provisional President of the Confederacy but he accepts the position
Lincoln's inaugural address declared that his administration would not initiate a civil war. Speaking directly to the "Southern States", he reaffirmed, "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the United States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."
The Civil War began. Confederate attack upon Fort Sumter, a Union fort in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.
Lincoln called for a 75,000-man militia. The President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, called for a 75,000-man militia to serve for three months. Some slave states refused to send troops against their neighboring slave states, with the result that most such states also declared secession from the United States and joined the Confederate States. Cr.
The Union blockade began. The Union blockade began just a few weeks after the start of the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln announced it on April 19, 1861. The Union continued to blockade the South throughout the Civil War until the war ended in 1865. The Anaconda Plan The Union blockade was part of a larger strategy called the Anaconda Plan. The Anaconda Plan was the brainchild of Union General Winfield Scott. General Scott felt that the war could take a long time and that the best supplied armies would win. He wanted to keep foreign countries from shipping supplies to the Confederates. The plan was called the Anaconda Plan because, like a snake, the Union meant to constrict the South. They would surround the southern borders, keeping out supplies. Then the army would split the South in two, taking control of the Mississippi River. More info
Virginia admit to confederacy (8th) More info
Arkansas admit to confederacy (9th) More info
North Carolina admit to confederacy (10th) More info
Battle of Philippi (West Virginia) The Battle of Philippi formed part of the Western Virginia Campaign of the American Civil War, and was fought in and around Philippi, Virginia (now West Virginia) on June 3, 1861. A Union victory, it was the first organized land action of the war, though generally viewed as a skirmish rather than a battle. However, the Northern press celebrated it as an epic triumph, and this encouraged Congress to call for the drive on Richmond that ended with the Union defeat at First Bull Run in July. It brought overnight fame to Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, and was notable for the first battlefield amputations. It also encouraged the western counties of Virginia to form their own Union state. Cr.
Tennessee admit to confederacy (11th) More info
First Battle of Bull Run (Battle of First Manassas) The First Battle of Bull Run (the name used by Union forces), also known as the Battle of First Manassas (the name used by Confederate forces), was fought on July 21, 1861 in Prince William County, Virginia, just north of the city of Manassas and about 25 miles west-southwest of Washington, D.C. It was the first major battle of the American Civil War. The Union's forces were slow in positioning themselves, allowing Confederate reinforcements time to arrive by rail. Each side had about 18,000 poorly trained and poorly led troops in their first battle. It was a Confederate victory, followed by a disorganized retreat of the Union forces. Cr.
Battle of Wilson's Creek The Battle of Wilson's Creek, also known as the Battle of Oak Hills, was the first major battle of the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War. Fought on August 10, 1861, near Springfield, Missouri, between Federal forces and the Missouri State Guard, it is sometimes called the "Bull Run of the West." Cr.
Battle of Hatteras Inlet Batteries The Battle of Hatteras Inlet Batteries (August 28–29, 1861) was the first combined operation of the Union Army and Navy in the American Civil War, resulting in Union domination of the strategically important North Carolina Sounds. Two forts on the Outer Banks (Fort Clark and Fort Hatteras) had been built by the Confederates, to protect their commerce-raiding activity. But these were lightly-defended, and their artillery could not engage the bombarding fleet under Flag Officer Silas H. Stringham, commandant of the Atlantic Blockading Squadron, which had been ordered to keep moving, to avoid presenting a static target. Although held up by bad weather, the fleet was able to land troops under General Ben Butler, who took the surrender of Flag Officer Samuel Barron. This battle represented the first application of the naval blockading strategy. The Union retained both forts, providing valuable access to the sounds, and commerce raiding was much reduced. The victory was welcomed by a demoralised Northern public after the humiliation of 1st Bull Run. The engagement is sometimes known as the Battle of Forts Hatteras and Clark. Cr.
Battle of Port Royal The Battle of Port Royal was one of the earliest amphibious operations of the American Civil War, in which a United States Navy fleet and United States Army expeditionary force captured Port Royal Sound, South Carolina, between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina, on November 7, 1861. The sound was guarded by two forts on opposite sides of the entrance, Fort Walker on Hilton Head Island to the south and Fort Beauregard on Phillip's Island to the north. A small force of four gunboats supported the forts, but did not materially affect the battle. The attacking force assembled outside of the sound beginning on November 3 after being battered by a storm during their journey down the coast. Because of losses in the storm, the army was not able to land, so the battle was reduced to a contest between ship-based guns and those on shore. The fleet moved to the attack on November 7, after more delays caused by the weather during which additional troops were brought into Fort Walker. Flag Officer Du Pont ordered his ships to keep moving in an elliptical path, bombarding Fort Walker on one leg and Fort Beauregard on the other; the tactic had recently been used effectively at the Battle of Hatteras Inlet. His plan soon broke down, however, and most ships took enfilading positions that exploited a weakness in Fort Walker. The Confederate gunboats put in a token appearance, but fled up a nearby creek when challenged. Early in the afternoon, most of the guns in the fort were out of action, and the soldiers manning them fled to the rear. A landing party from the flagship took possession of the fort. When Fort Walker fell, the commander of Fort Beauregard across the sound feared that his soldiers would soon be cut off with no way to escape, so he ordered them to abandon the fort. Another landing party took possession of the fort and raised the Union flag the next day. Despite the heavy volume of fire, loss of life on both sides was low, at least by standards set later in the Civil War. Only eight were killed in the fleet and eleven on shore, with four other Southerners missing. Total casualties came to less than 100. Cr.
Peninsula Campaign The Peninsula Campaign (also known as the Peninsular Campaign) of the American Civil War was a major Union operation launched in southeastern Virginia from March through July 1862, the first large-scale offensive in the Eastern Theater. The operation, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, was an amphibious turning movement against the Confederate States Army in Northern Virginia, intended to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. McClellan's army began to sail from Alexandria on March 17. It was an armada that dwarfed all previous American expeditions, transporting 121,500 men, 44 artillery batteries, 1,150 wagons, over 15,000 horses, and tons of equipment and supplies. An English observer remarked that it was the "stride of a giant. Cr.
Battle of Shiloh The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, was a major battle in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, fought April 6–7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. The Battle of Shiloh was the bloodiest battle in American history up to that time. It was eventually superseded that coming September by the Battle of Antietam (an overall bloodier battle, and still the bloodiest single-day in American military history), then the next year by the Battle of Chancellorsville, and, soon after, the three-day Battle of Gettysburg, which would prove to be the bloodiest overall battle of the war. Cr.
Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip The Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip (April 18–28, 1862) was the decisive battle for possession of New Orleans in the American Civil War. The two Confederate forts on the Mississippi River south of the city were attacked by a Union Navy fleet. As long as the forts could keep the Federal forces from moving on the city, it was safe, but if they were negated, there were no fall-back positions to impede the enemy advance. Cr.
Battle of Gaines's Mill This largest battle of the Seven Days Battles played a significant role in shaping the course of the American Civil War and yet it remains a mystery to many. Fact #1: Gaines' Mill was Robert E. Lee's first major victory of the Civil War Fact #2: The Confederate assault at Gaines' Mill, by many estimates, was the largest of the Civil War Fact #3: By late June 1862, Gaines' Mill was the second bloodiest battle in American history Fact #4: Gaines' Mill is one of those rare battles where Confederate forces significantly outnumber Federal forces Fact #5: The Confederate victory at Gaines' Mill radically shifted the strategic initiative in the East to Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia Fact #6: Led by John Bell Hood, the famed Texas Brigade achieved its first great feat of combat arms at Gaines' Mill Fact #7: Seven different Union soldiers, including Gen. Daniel Butterfield, were awarded the Medal of Honor at Gaines' Mill Fact #8: Gaines' Mill represents the first instance when observation balloons from both sides flew at the same time Fact #9: Brig. Gen. Phillip St. George Cooke, the officer who led the desperate Union cavalry counter attack at Gaines' Mill, was the father-in-law of J.E.B. Stuart Fact #10: The Civil War Trust has preserved several hundred acres of the Gaines’ Mill battlefield. Cr.
Second Battle of Bull Run The Second Battle of Bull Run or Battle of Second Manassas was fought August 28–30, 1862 in Prince William County, Virginia, as part of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of the Northern Virginia Campaign waged by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia against Union Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia, and a battle of much larger scale and numbers than the First Battle of Bull Run (or First Manassas) fought on July 21, 1861 on the same ground. Cr.
Battle of Harpers Ferry The Battle of Harpers Ferry was fought September 12-15, 1862, as part of the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War. As Gen. Robert E. Lee's Confederate army invaded Maryland, a portion of his army under Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson surrounded, bombarded, and captured the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), a major victory at relatively minor cost. Cr.
Battle of Antietam The Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the South, was fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam Creek as part of the Maryland Campaign. It was the first field army-level engagement in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War to take place on Union soil and is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing. Cr.
Emancipation Proclamation On September 22, 1862, Lincoln issued a preliminary warning that he would order the emancipation of all slaves in any state that did not end its rebellion against the Union by January 1, 1863. None of the Confederate states restored themselves to the Union, and Lincoln's order was signed and took effect on January 1, 1863. Cr.
Battle of Fredericksburg The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11-15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General Ambrose Burnside, as part of the American Civil War. The Union Army's futile frontal attacks on December 13 against entrenched Confederate defenders on the heights behind the city are remembered as one of the most one-sided battles of the war, with Union casualties more than three times as heavy as those suffered by the Confederates. A visitor to the battlefield described the battle to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln as a "butchery." Cr.
Battle of Stones River The Battle of Stones River or Second Battle of Murfreesboro, was fought from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, in Middle Tennessee, as the culmination of the Stones River Campaign in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. Of the major battles of the Civil War, Stones River had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. Although the battle itself was inconclusive, the Union Army's repulse of two Confederate attacks and the subsequent Confederate withdrawal were a much-needed boost to Union morale after the defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and it dashed Confederate aspirations for control of Middle Tennessee. Cr.
Battle of Chancellorsville The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American Civil War (1861–1865), and the principal engagement of the Chancellorsville Campaign. It was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near the village of Chancellorsville. Two related battles were fought nearby on May 3 in the vicinity of Fredericksburg. The campaign pitted Union Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's Army of the Potomac against an army less than half its size, General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Chancellorsville is known as Lee's "perfect battle" because his risky decision to divide his army in the presence of a much larger enemy force resulted in a significant Confederate victory. The fiercest fighting of the battle—and the second bloodiest day of the Civil War—occurred on May 3 as Lee launched multiple attacks against the Union position at Chancellorsville, resulting in heavy losses on both sides. Cr.
Siege of Vicksburg The Siege of Vicksburg (May 18 - July 4, 1863) was the final major military action in the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. In a series of maneuvers, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee crossed the Mississippi River and drove the Confederate Army of Mississippi, led by Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, into the defensive lines surrounding the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg was the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River; therefore, capturing it completed the second part of the Northern strategy, the Anaconda Plan. When two major assaults (May 19 and 22, 1863) against the Confederate fortifications were repulsed with heavy casualties, Grant decided to besiege the city beginning on May 25. After holding out for more than forty days, with no reinforcement and supplies nearly gone, the garrison finally surrendered on July 4. Cr.
Battle of Gettysburg The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Meade's Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, halting Lee's invasion of the North. Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle, the most costly in US history. Cr.
Battle of Chickamauga The Battle of Chickamauga, fought on September 18–20, 1863 between Union and Confederate forces in the American Civil War, marked the end of a Union offensive in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia - the Chickamauga Campaign. It was the first major battle of the war fought in Georgia, the most significant Union defeat in the Western Theater, and involved the second-highest number of casualties after the Battle of Gettysburg. Cr.
Gettysburg Address The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, one of the best-known in American history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg. Text of the Gettysburg Address The Bliss version, written well after the speech as a favor for a friend, is viewed by many as the standard text. Its text differs, however, from the written versions prepared by Lincoln before and after his speech. It is the only version to which Lincoln affixed his signature, and the last he is known to have written. Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Cr.
Battle of the Wilderness The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–7, 1864, was the first battle of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign against Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War. Both armies suffered heavy casualties, a harbinger of a bloody war of attrition by Grant against Lee's army and, eventually, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia. The battle was tactically inconclusive, as Grant disengaged and continued his offensive. Cr.
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, sometimes more simply referred to as the Battle of Spotsylvania (or the 19th-century spelling Spottsylvania), was the second major battle in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign of the American Civil War. Following the bloody but inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness, Grant's army disengaged from Confederate General Robert E. Lee's army and moved to the southeast, attempting to lure Lee into battle under more favorable conditions. Elements of Lee's army beat the Union army to the critical crossroads of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia and began entrenching. Fighting occurred on and off from May 8 through May 21, 1864, as Grant tried various schemes to break the Confederate line. In the end, the battle was tactically inconclusive, but with almost 32,000 casualties on both sides, it was the costliest battle of the campaign. Cr.
Battle of Cold Harbor The Battle of Cold Harbor was fought from May 31 to June 12, 1864, with the most significant fighting occurring on June 3. It was one of the final battles of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign during the American Civil War, and is remembered as one of American history's bloodiest, most lopsided battles. Thousands of Union soldiers were killed or wounded in a hopeless frontal assault against the fortified positions of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's army. Cr.
Siege of Petersburg The Richmond–Petersburg Campaign was a series of battles around Petersburg, Virginia, fought from June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865, during the American Civil War. Although it is more popularly known as the Siege of Petersburg, it was not a classic military siege, in which a city is usually surrounded and all supply lines are cut off, nor was it strictly limited to actions against Petersburg. The campaign consisted of nine months of trench warfare in which Union forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant assaulted Petersburg unsuccessfully and then constructed trench lines that eventually extended over 30 miles (48 km) from the eastern outskirts of Richmond, Virginia, to around the eastern and southern outskirts of Petersburg. Petersburg was crucial to the supply of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's army and the Confederate capital of Richmond. Numerous raids were conducted and battles fought in attempts to cut off the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad. Many of these battles caused the lengthening of the trench lines, overloading dwindling Confederate resources. Lee finally gave in to the pressure and abandoned both cities in April 1865, leading to his retreat and surrender at Appomattox Court House. The Siege of Petersburg foreshadowed the trench warfare that was common in World War I, earning it a prominent position in military history. It also featured the war's largest concentration of African American troops, who suffered heavy casualties at such engagements as the Battle of the Crater and Chaffin's Farm. Cr.
Fall of Atlanta The city of Atlanta, Georgia, in Fulton County, was an important rail and commercial center during the American Civil War. Although relatively small in population, the city became a critical point of contention during the Atlanta Campaign in 1864 when a powerful Union army approached from Union-held Tennessee. The fall of Atlanta was a critical point in the Civil War, giving the North more confidence, and (along with the victories at Mobile Bay and Winchester) leading to the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln and the eventual surrender of the Confederacy. The capture of the "Gate City of the South" was especially important for Lincoln as he was in a contentious election campaign against the Democratic opponent George B. McClellan. Cr.
Battle of Nashville The Battle of Nashville was a two-day battle in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign that represented the end of large-scale fighting west of the coastal states in the American Civil War. It was fought at Nashville, Tennessee, on December 15–16, 1864, between the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Lieutenant General John Bell Hood and Federal forces under Major General George H. Thomas. In one of the largest victories achieved by the Union Army during the war, Thomas attacked and routed Hood's army, largely destroying it as an effective fighting force. Cr.
The U.S. Congress approves the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, to abolish slavery. The amendment was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, but did not pass in the House until Jan. 31, 1865. The joint resolution of both bodies that submitted the amendment to the states for approval was signed by Lincoln on Feb. 1, 1865; however, he did not live to see its ratification. Assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, he died on April 15, 1865, and the amendment was not ratified by the required number of states until Dec. 6, 1865. More info
Third Battle of Petersburg The Third Battle of Petersburg, also known as the Breakthrough at Petersburg or the Fall of Petersburg, was fought on April 2, 1865, south and southwest of Petersburg, Virginia, at the end of the 292-day Richmond–Petersburg Campaign (sometimes called the Siege of Petersburg) and in the beginning stage of the Appomattox Campaign near the conclusion of the American Civil War. The Union Army (Army of the Potomac, Army of the Shenandoah and Army of the James) under the overall command of General-in-chief, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, launched an assault on General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia's Petersburg, Virginia trenches and fortifications after the Union victory at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865. As a result of that battle the Confederate right flank and rear were exposed, and the remaining supply lines cut, and the Confederate defenders were reduced by over 10,000 men killed, wounded, taken prisoner or in flight. Cr.
Battle of Appomattox Court House and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia's surrender The Battle of Appomattox Court House (Virginia, U.S.), fought on the morning of April 9th, 1865, was one of the last battles of the American Civil War (1861-1865). It was the final engagement of Confederate States Army general Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia before it surrendered to the Union Army / Army of the Potomac under Lt. Gen. and General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant. The signing of the surrender documents occurred in the parlor of the house owned by Wilmer McLean on the afternoon of April 9th. Cr.
Assassination of Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was assassinated by well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.. Shot in the head as he watched the play, Lincoln died the following day at 7:22 a.m., in the Petersen House opposite the theater. He was the first American president to be assassinated; his funeral and burial marked an extended period of national mourning. The assassination – five days after the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee, surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army of the Potomac – was part of a larger conspiracy intended by Booth to revive the Confederate cause by eliminating the three most important officials of the United States government. Conspirators Lewis Powell and David Herold were assigned to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward, and George Atzerodt was tasked with killing Vice President Andrew Johnson. Beyond Lincoln's death the plot failed: Seward was only wounded and Johnson's would-be attacker lost his nerve. After a dramatic initial escape, Booth was killed at the climax of a lengthy manhunt, and several other conspirators were later hanged. Cr.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis met with his Confederate Cabinet for the last time in Washington, Georgia, and officially dissolved the Confederate government. Cr.
Battle of Palmito Ranch The Battle of Palmito Ranch, also known as the Battle of Palmito Hill, is generally recognized as the final battle of the American Civil War. It was fought May 12 and 13, 1865, on the banks of the Rio Grande east of Brownsville, Texas and a few miles from the seaport of Los Brazos de Santiago, more than a month after Robert E. Lee had surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant in the Eastern Theater. Though the Battle of Appomattox Court House is identified as the last major battle of the war, Palmito Ranch was the last engagement between organized forces of the Union Army and Confederate States Army involving casualties. Cr.
Surrender of Cherokee chief Stand Watie Cherokee Brigadier General Stand Watie commanded the Confederate Indians when he surrendered on June 23. This was the last significant Confederate active force. Watie formed the Cherokee Mounted Rifles. He was a guerrilla fighter commanding Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, and Osage Indian soldiers. They earned a notorious reputation for their bold and brave fighting. Yearly, Federal troops all over the western United States hunted for Watie, but they never captured him. He surrendered on June 23 at Fort Towson, in the Choctaw Nations area at the village of Doaksville (now a ghost town) of the Indian Territory, being the last Confederate general to surrender in the American Civil War. Cr.
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