May 1862

Confederates scrambled to stop the Federal push on Richmond. More key southern points were threatened or captured, New Orleans came under Federal military occupation, and a new Homestead law was enacted in the North. A glimmer of hope for the Confederacy was in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson fought off three Federal armies and threatened Washington.

Subject to the Will of the Conquerors

Benjamin F. Butler arrives with his Federal troops to impose military rule over New Orleans.

The Corinth Campaign Finally Begins

Henry W. Halleck is finally ready to lead his Federal “Grand Army” against the vital railroad center of Corinth, Mississippi.

From Amos Steere, 25th Massachusetts

Letter from Private Amos Steere, 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, to his sister.

All That Human Labor Can Accomplish

As George B. McClellan prepares to bombard Confederates at Yorktown, Joseph E. Johnston begins planning a retreat.

This Bushwhacking Must Cease

Federal troops retaliate against Confederate attacks in northern Alabama by committing various atrocities against civilians. Incidents such as these indicate the beginning of a new and more brutal phase of the war.

The Fall of Yorktown

The Federal Army of the Potomac enters the abandoned enemy works at Yorktown. Some hail this as a great victory while others note that the Confederate army had escaped intact.

The Battle of Williamsburg

Portions of the main armies on the Virginia Peninsula clash in a savage engagement that does little to change the dispositions of either Federals or Confederates.

The Eltham’s Landing Engagement

The Confederates continue falling back on the Virginia Peninsula, as a detachment tries to bide time by challenging a Federal troop landing at the mouth of the York River.

How I Wish Peace Would Be Declared

“Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates move east to join forces with another Confederate army and confront a detachment of John C. Fremont’s Federals in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

The Battle of McDowell

A fight for possession of a key hill results in a Federal withdrawal and a Confederates seizure of the military initiative in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

The Peninsula: Dissension on Both Sides

As Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederates fall back to the Chickahominy River, George B. McClellan continues complaining to the Lincoln administration about lack of adequate support.

The Fall of Norfolk

Abraham Lincoln personally directs an operation that results in capturing one of the Confederacy’s most important naval bases.

The Battle of Plum Run Bend

Confederates launch a surprise attack on the Mississippi River to keep the Federals from continuing downstream to capture Fort Pillow and Memphis.

The Fall of Pensacola

Confederate forces abandon a key naval base on the Gulf of Mexico after holding out against a powerful Federal threat for over a year.

The Destruction of the C.S.S. Virginia

Confederates are forced to destroy their fearsome ironclad to prevent capture. This paves the way for Federals to advance up the James River to threaten Richmond.

Richmond Must Not Be Given Up

Panic begins spreading throughout the Confederate capital of Richmond as George B. McClellan’s Federal army is now just 22 miles away and still advancing up the Virginia Peninsula.

Quite a Valuable Acquisition

A slave hands over a Confederate vessel to the Federal blockade fleet off South Carolina, along with key information about Confederate positions around Charleston.

A Detestation of the Country and the People

Henry H. Sibley’s dream of making the New Mexico Territory part of the Confederacy ends as the remnants of his broken army return to El Paso and his detachment is driven out of Tucson.

To Be Treated as a Woman of the Town

Commanding the Federal occupation forces in New Orleans, Benjamin F. Butler issues an order that solidifies his infamous reputation among southerners.

The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff

Confederate batteries along the James River take on a Federal fleet approaching in an effort to capture Richmond from the water.

Lee’s Fateful Message to Jackson

As Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates move back east, he receives a message from Robert E. Lee giving him free rein to operate against the Federals in the Shenandoah Valley, and even threaten Washington.

Damned Forever by God and Men

As the Federal Army of the Potomac continues inching toward Richmond, Abraham Lincoln conditionally approves George B. McClellan’s request for reinforcements.

Mississippians Refuse to Learn Surrender

The Federal naval squadron of David G. Farragut tries following up its capture of New Orleans by pushing further up the Mississippi River. But they meet unexpected resistance.

Blind to the Signs of the Times

Abraham Lincoln revokes David Hunter’s order freeing all slaves in his military department. But Lincoln also declared for the first time that he had the power to free slaves as a wartime necessity.

Conflicting Orders in the Shenandoah Valley

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Richard Ewell struggle with conflicting orders while trying to join forces to attack Federal forces in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

An Act to Secure Homesteads

Abraham Lincoln signs a bill into law giving away 160-acre plots to settlers who agree to tend to the land for five years.

Holding Corinth to the Last Extremity

Henry W. Halleck’s Federal “Grand Army” inches his way toward Confederates under P.G.T. Beauregard at Corinth, forcing Beauregard to decide whether to fight or flee.

No More Fixed and Determined Purpose

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Richard Ewell join forces in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and move to attack Nathaniel P. Banks’s isolated Federal outpost at Front Royal.

The Battle of Front Royal

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates score a major victory and threaten to position themselves between the Federals in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and Washington, DC.

We Shall Stand Firm

Following the Federal defeat at Front Royal in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Nathaniel P. Banks retreats and Abraham Lincoln scrambles to send him reinforcements.

The Battle of Winchester

Confederates win a tremendous victory to gain control of most of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and make the name “Stonewall” a legend in the South.

A Scare Will Do Them Good

Confederate victories in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley prevent Federal reinforcements from reaching George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac. This leaves McClellan vulnerable on the Peninsula.

The Hanover Court House Engagement

A small engagement on the Virginia Peninsula secures George B. McClellan’s right flank and increases the Federal threat to Richmond.

A Question of Legs

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates drive one Federal army out of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, but two more are quickly closing in on them from opposite directions.

The Fall of Corinth

As Henry W. Halleck finally prepares to attack the vital railroad town of Corinth, Mississippi, the Confederates pull out to fight another day.

The Puny Efforts of Martial Men

Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston receives vital intelligence that prompts him to plan an attack on the Virginia Peninsula, but a terrible storm threatens to undermine his efforts.

The Battle of Seven Pines

Confederates attack the Federals on the south side of the Chickahominy River on Virginia’s Peninsula, but poor coordination prevents them from accomplishing their main goal of destroying the enemy.

Last Updated: 6/3/2022

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