Events of the Civil War Timeline Project for History Class!

civil war curriculum & lesson plans for history teachers
Civil War Timeline Project

Make the Civil War come alive in your classroom!


A GREAT way to help your students obtain a greater grasp of the causes of the Civil War, the war's major battles and major events, as well as the consequences of the war by working on a Civil War timeline assignment! Any social studies teacher would be well served to have at their disposal a timeline activity that covers all of the major historical events of a specific time period of history and arranges them in chronological order!


One of the most formative and influential time periods in US history was the time period encompassing the American Civil War!


The Civil War itself, which took place between the years 1861 and 1865, was responsible for the deaths of more than 600,000 American citizens and irrevocably altered the political, economic, and social landscape of the nation. It was fought between the states in the north (free states), collectively referred to as the Union, and the states in the south (slave states), collectively referred to as the Confederacy. There were also five border states that remained in the Union but were slave states. The 12th of April, 1861, marked the beginning of the war when Confederate soldiers opened fire on a Union garrison of federal troops stationed at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The Union army, which was led early on in the war by general George McClellan, was able to keep control of the Mississippi River and the major cities of the North, whereas the Confederate army, which was led by general Robert E. Lee, was able to hold onto large areas of the South and win several significant battles.


With a timeline activity, students are given the opportunity to view the many significant events of the Civil War laid out in chronological order, which is one of the primary reasons why a Civil War timeline project is a useful educational tool. Students will have a better understanding of the events and causes that culminated in the outbreak of the war itself. The further spread of slavery into the western regions was one of the primary factors that led to the outbreak of the Civil War. The free states in the north wanted to put a cap on how much farther slavery could spread, while the slave states in the south wanted to keep expanding it. Both the Fugitive Slave Act and the Kansas-Nebraska Act were important flashpoints that contributed to the beginning of the war. Both of these pieces of legislation were passed in 1854. The Missouri Compromise, passed several decades earlier, can be seen as one of the first major pieces of legislation that led to sectionalism in America. Whereas several events took place in the years just prior to the Civil War. From the Dred Scott Decision in 1857 or the raid on Harpers Ferry, led by John Brown, in 1859, to the outcome of the presidential election of 1860 and the subsequent southern states of South Carolina (December 1860), Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas in early 1861 (January and February), which were then followed by the states of Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee between April and June of 1861, after President Lincoln requested volunteers from the northern states to join the Union Army, the formation of the Confederate States of America, the Confederate troops' attack on Fort Sumter, etc.


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In addition, students will learn about the evolution of the war, including the many important battles that took place during the American Civil War. The Union army, commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant and one of his most trusted generals, General William T. Sherman, was successful in disrupting the supply lines of the Confederate army and defeating them in a number of crucial battles during the American Civil War. Likewise, Confederate general, General Robert E. Lee. a well-respected general who led the Army of Northern Virginia defeated Union forces time and again when his Confederate forces were matched up against Union troops. Some of the most famous historically significant battles of the Civil War that you might want to include on a Civil War timeline activity are the First Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Vicksburg, the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Siege of Vicksburg, and the Battle of Chickamauga. Aside from the many battles, it's also important to include some of the more significant events that occurred during the Civil War in a timeline activity. For example, how African Americans were significantly impacted by the war in a number of ways. In particular, after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, announcing "that all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free," allowing runway slaves from the South and African Americans in the North alike, to become Union soldiers. Then, nearly two years later, President Lincoln used his political capital to persuade Congress to pass the Thirteenth Amendment on January 31, 1865 (ratified on December 6, 1865), thus abolishing slavery in the United States. Finally, the end of the American Civil War was signaled by General Robert E. Lee's agreement to meet Union General Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865, in which Lee formally surrendered to Grant effectively ending the Civil War.


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Through a timeline activity such as this, students are given the opportunity to examine original sources and gain an understanding of the viewpoints of those who lived through the battle as part of the benefits of completing a project based on a Civil War chronology. Students can obtain a more personal perspective of the conflict and the issues at stake by reading letters, diary entries, and newspaper articles written by soldiers, civilians, and politicians. These documents can likely be found in your school library or via online sources. Students, for instance, can learn about the divergent philosophies and goals of the Union and Confederate armies by reading the Gettysburg Address and the addresses given by Confederate President Jefferson Davis, such as his inaugural address.


Students are more likely to learn a lot about the Civil War and develop a greater grasp of this significant period in American history with a Civil War timeline project! This is a terrific approach for students to study about the Civil War. Students will have a better understanding of the evolution of the war and the turning events that led to the eventual victory of the Union if the information is organized in chronological sequence and presented to them. Students can learn the viewpoints of those who lived during the war, including soldiers, civilians, and politicians, by evaluating primary sources, which are documents that were created directly during the conflict. In addition, students can gain a better understanding of the issues at stake and the effect that the war had on the country when they investigate the causes of the war, such as the expansion of slavery and the conflicting ideologies of the North and South.


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Thank you so much for reading!

-Jillian (a.k.a. the "Lesson Plan Guru")













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