April 1861

With the U.S. split into two nations, many feared that war was imminent. The newly inaugurated Lincoln administration was working to resolve the crisis; the focal point had become the isolated Federal troops at Fort Pickens in Florida and Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

Seward’s Bold Memo to Lincoln

1 Apr – Secretary of State William H. Seward met with an intermediary to Confederate envoys and submitted an extraordinary memo to President Abraham Lincoln offering to serve as de facto prime minister.

Fort Sumter: The Relief Expedition Proceeds

4 Apr – President Abraham Lincoln notified special agent Gustavus V. Fox that the relief expedition to Fort Sumter would go ahead.

Working to Reinforce Fort Pickens

6 Apr – President Abraham Lincoln learned that his order to reinforce Fort Pickens in Pensacola Bay, Florida had not been obeyed.

Fort Sumter: The Confrontation Looms

9 Apr – Tension increased as three vessels left New York to relieve Fort Sumter, Confederate envoys in Washington expressed dismay with the Lincoln administration, and President Jefferson Davis felt increased pressure to address the Sumter issue.

Breaking the Fort Pickens Truce

12 Apr – Federal Lieutenant John L. Worden delivered President Abraham Lincoln’s order to break the unofficial truce with local Confederates by reinforcing Fort Pickens, Florida.

The Fort Sumter Bombardment

12 Apr – Confederates opened fire on the Federal garrison at Fort Sumter, touching off the most horrific conflict in American history.

The Fort Sumter Surrender

13 Apr – The bombardment of Fort Sumter ended when Major Robert Anderson agreed to surrender his Federal garrison.

Lincoln’s Militia Proclamation

15 Apr – President Lincoln issued an official proclamation declaring that the Confederate states were in rebellion against the U.S. Lincoln asked for 75,000 volunteers to join their state militias to help put down the rebellion, and he called for a special session of Congress to assemble on July 4.

The Virginia Secession

17 Apr – Delegates to the Virginia Convention at Richmond approved an ordinance of secession in a secret ballot, 88 to 55.

Robert E. Lee Goes South

18 Apr – U.S. Colonel Robert E. Lee met with influential statesman Francis P. Blair and received an offer to command the Federal army.

The Baltimore Riot

19 Apr – Troops of the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment traveling through Baltimore fired on a jeering mob of citizens, sparking mass unrest.

Lincoln’s Blockade Proclamation

20 Apr – President Lincoln’s Federal naval blockade on all ports in Confederate states took effect.

The Fall of Norfolk

21 Apr – Virginia militia seized the Gosport Navy Yard at Norfolk after Federals partially burned and abandoned the vital naval base.

North Carolina and Tennessee Lean South

26 Apr – North Carolina Governor John Ellis joined Tennessee in rejecting President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers to destroy the Confederacy.

Keeping Kentucky and Missouri Loyal

26 Apr – President Lincoln met with a Kentucky Unionist to keep that state loyal, while Federal troops in Missouri worked to keep weapons out of secessionist hands.

Maryland Remains in the Union

29 Apr – Maryland legislators voted against secession after President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus in the area surrounding the state.

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Last Updated: 2/26/2017

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