April 1862

Federal armies were advancing on several fronts as massive efforts were underway to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond and split the Confederacy in the West. Southerners were watching the advances with apprehension because they knew that hard fighting would be needed if they were to maintain their independence. Northerners were complaining that the Federal forces were still not moving fast enough.

“Stonewall” Jackson Prepares to Move

1 Apr – Federal forces moved farther into Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, while Confederate Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson began developing plans to drive them out.

The Peninsula Campaign: McClellan Arrives Shorthanded

2 Apr – Major General George B. McClellan landed on the Virginia Peninsula with a huge manpower advantage, even though he had fewer men than expected.

The Peninsula Campaign: Advance on Yorktown

4 Apr – Major General George B. McClellan slowly advanced his Federal Army of the Potomac toward Yorktown, the first obstacle on the Virginia Peninsula.

Preparing to Attack Island No. 10

4 Apr – Major General John Pope prepared his Federal Army of the Mississippi to capture strategic Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River with naval support.

Confederates Move into Southwestern Tennessee

5 Apr – The Confederate Army of Mississippi advanced into southwestern Tennessee to confront Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s force, which remained largely unaware of the enemy’s approach.

The Battle of Shiloh: Day One

6 Apr – The most terrible battle of the war to date began as the Confederate Army of Mississippi swarmed upon unsuspecting Federals in southwestern Tennessee.

The Battle of Shiloh: Day Two

7 Apr – Federal forces counterattacked, driving the Confederates back to Corinth and ending a horrific two-day struggle.

The Battle of Shiloh: Aftermath

8 Apr – Both Federals and Confederates claimed victory after a terrible two-day battle, while the shock of such enormous human loss began sinking in.

The Fall of Island No. 10

8 Apr – Federal army and navy forces captured a key stronghold on the Mississippi River.

The Siege of Yorktown Begins

9 Apr – President Abraham Lincoln questioned not only Major General George B. McClellan’s strategy and tactics, but also his math after McClellan opted to lay siege to Yorktown and not attack.

Lincoln Approves Compensated Emancipation

10 Apr – President Abraham Lincoln signed a joint congressional resolution pledging Federal compensation to states that implemented programs to free slaves.

The Fall of Fort Pulaski

11 Apr – Federal forces on the Atlantic coast targeted a key fort guarding the entrance to Savannah Harbor, near the South Carolina-Georgia border.

The Great Locomotive Chase

12 Apr – A daring effort to sabotage Confederate supply lines made sensational headlines in newspapers but had little impact on the war.

Confederates Retreat in New Mexico

13 Apr – Colonel Edward R.S. Canby sought to unite all Federal forces in New Mexico, while Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s Confederate Army of New Mexico began a long withdrawal due to lack of supplies.

The Siege of Yorktown: Confederate Response

14 Apr – The Confederate high command met at Richmond to consider abandoning the Virginia Peninsula to the numerically superior Federal Army of the Potomac.

The District Emancipation Act

16 Apr – President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill into law abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia.

The Confederate Conscription Act

16 Apr – President Jefferson Davis signed a bill into law requiring all able-bodied white men between the ages of 18 and 35 to serve at least three years in the Confederate military. This was the first national draft in American history.

New Orleans: Targeting Forts Jackson and St. Philip

17 Apr – Commodore David G. Farragut, flag officer of the Federal West Gulf Blockading Squadron, proceeded with his plan to capture New Orleans, the Confederacy’s largest and richest city.

New Orleans: Bombarding Forts Jackson and St. Philip

18 Apr – On Good Friday, Federals took the first step toward capturing New Orleans when Commander David D. Porter’s mortar boats began firing on Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

The Siege of Yorktown: The Buildup Continues

20 Apr – Confederate morale sagged on the Virginia Peninsula, as the number of Federal troops continued increasing on multiple fronts.

From Aden Cavins, 59th Indiana

21 Apr – Letter from Captain Aden Cavins, Company E, 59th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, to his wife.

The Partisan Ranger Act

21 Apr – The Confederate Congress approved a measure authorizing the organization of guerrilla forces to help combat the Federal invasion.

New Orleans: Preparing the Advance

22 Apr – Flag Officer David G. Farragut met with his fleet officers to lay out his plan for bypassing Forts Jackson and St. Philip and steaming up the Mississippi River in a daring attempt to capture New Orleans.

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Last Updated: 4/14/2017

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