The Confederacy suffered several devastating military setbacks in Tennessee and on the Atlantic Coast, while a new hero emerged in the North. In Washington, Congress passed part of the Republican Party agenda and held military officers accountable for defeats. The Lincolns suffered a personal tragedy, and the president continued trying to compel his commanders to advance.
1 February – The Federal invasion of Tennessee began with a joint army-navy operation against Fort Henry on the Tennessee River.
3 February – Federal General-in-Chief George B. McClellan submitted a 22-page report arguing in favor of his plan to move the Army of the Potomac down the Virginia coast by water.
4 February – Virginia Governor John Letcher dispatched Congressman Alexander Boteler to Winchester to persuade Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson to withdraw his resignation from the Confederate army.
5 February – First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln held a grand ball for 500 guests at the White House, despite the continuing war.
6 February – Federals captured a key point on the Tennessee River that opened a path to invade Tennessee.
7 February – Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant began planning to follow the victory at Fort Henry by capturing a much stronger Confederate fort.
8 February – The Federal army-navy effort to seize North Carolina’s Outer Banks continued, with the potential reward being a strengthening of the naval blockade and the opening of an invasion route into southern Virginia.
9 February – Federal troops led by General George Sykes arrested Brigadier General Charles P. Stone in the early morning hours after new “evidence” surfaced confirming Stone’s disloyalty to the Union.
10 February – Federals confronted the Confederate “mosquito” fleet north of Albemarle Sound on the North Carolina coast, threatening nearby Elizabeth City in the process.
13 February – Federal forces attacked Fort Donelson, but they found the defenses much stronger than those of Fort Henry.
15 February – The Confederates tried breaking out of the Federal grip around Fort Donelson before deciding on whether to surrender.
16 February – Federals scored their greatest victory of the war up to this time, generating a new northern military hero.
20 February – President and Mrs. Lincoln’s 12-year-old son died of what doctors called “bilious,” or typhoid, fever.
21 February – Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s Confederate Army of New Mexico began its mission to conquer the New Mexico Territory, culminating in a fight at a ford on the Rio Grande.
22 February – Jefferson Davis took the oath of office to become the first official president of the Confederacy.
24 February – Federal forces invaded Tennessee and seized the first Confederate state capital of the war.
25 February – President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill into law establishing the first Federal paper currency in U.S. history–the “U.S. Note.”
Last Updated: 9/29/2018