January 1, 1863- The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect. Applauded by many abolitionists including Frederick Douglass, there are others who feel it does not go far enough to totally abolish slavery.
March 3, 1863- Conscription, or the drafting of soldiers into military service, begins in the North. It had begun in the South the year before.
April 1863- Union forces in the east begin a new campaign in Virginia to flank Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Fredericksburg. In the west, a Union army has begun a campaign to surround and take Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River.
May 1-4, 1863- The Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia. General Lee's greatest victory is marred by the mortal wounding of "Stonewall" Jackson, who dies on May 10. Soon after, Lee asks Jefferson Davis for permission to invade the North and take the war out of Virginia.
May 18, 1863- Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi begins. Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant attack Confederate defenses outside the city on May 19-22. If Vicksburg falls,control of the Mississippi River will fall to the Union.
June 9, 1863- The Battle of Brandy Station, Virginia. Union cavalry forces cross the Rapidan River to attack General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry and discover that Lee's men are moving west toward the Shenandoah Valley. The largest cavalry battle of the Civil War, it also marks the beginning of the Gettysburg Campaign. Meanwhile, the Union assault on Vicksburg, Mississippi has become a siege of the city where soldiers and civilians alike suffer from constant bombardment.
June 14-15, 1863- Battle of Second Winchester,Virginia. Confederate troops under General Richard Ewell defeat Union troops under General Robert Milroy, clearing the Shenandoah Valley of Union forces.
June 28, 1863- The Gettysburg Campaign continues. Confederates pass through York and reach the bridge over the Susquehanna River at Columbia, but Union militia set fire to the bridge, denying access to the east shore. Southern cavalry skirmishes with Union militia near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
July 1-3- The Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The bloodiest battle of the Civil War dashes Robert E. Lee's hopes for a successful invasion of the North.
July 4- Vicksburg, Mississippi, surrenders to the Union Army under Grant. The capture of Vicksburg gives the Union complete control of the Mississippi River, a vital supply line for the Confederate states in the west. At Gettysburg, Lee begins his retreat to Virginia.
July 10-11, 1863- Union naval and land forces attack Confederate defenses near Charleston, South Carolina. Among the Union troops is the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, the first African American regiment of volunteers to see combat.
July 13, 1863- Draft Riots begin in New York City and elsewhere as disgruntled workers and laborers, seething over the draft system that seemingly favors the rich, attack the draft office and African American churches. The riots continue through July 16.
July 13-14, 1863- Near Falling Waters, Maryland, Union troops skirmish with Lee's rearguard. That night the Army of Northern Virginia crosses the Potomac River and the Gettysburg Campaign ends.
July 18, 1863- Second Assault on Battery Wagner, South Carolina. Leading the Union infantry charge is the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who is killed and buried with the dead of his regiment.
August 21, 1863- Sacking of Lawrence, Kansas. In a murderous daylight raid, Confederate and Missouri guerillas under William Clarke Quantrill storm into Lawrence and destroy most of the town. Approximately 150 men and boys are murdered by Quantrill's men.
September 9, 1863- Chattanooga, Tennessee, is occupied by Union forces under General William Rosecrans whose Army of the Cumberland will soon invade northern Georgia.
September 19-20, 1863- The Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia. The Union Army of the Cumberland under General William Rosecrans is defeated and nearly routed by the Confederate Army of Tennessee commanded by General Braxton Bragg. Rosecrans' army retreats to the supply base at Chattanooga, Tennessee.
September/November 1863- The Siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Confederate forces under Braxton Bragg surround the occupied city. General Ulysses S. Grant is assigned to command the troops there and begins immediate plans to relieve the besieged Union army.
October 5, 1863- Outside of Charleston Harbor, the Confederate David, a partially submerged, steam powered vessel, attacked the New Ironsides, part of the Union fleet blockading the harbor, with a torpedo. Both ships survived the attack, though the commander of the David and one of his crew were captured.
October 9-22, 1863- Bristoe Station Campaign. In a feint toward Washington, Lee's Army of the Northern Virginia marches into northern Virginia in an attempt to flank the Army of the Potomac, under General Meade. Lee successfully outmaneuvers Meade though fails to bring him to battle or catch him in the open. An engagement at Bristoe Station, Virginia, on October 14 gives the campaign its name.
November 19, 1863- Dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg. President Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.
November 23-25, 1863- The Battle for Chattanooga. Union forces break the Confederate siege of the city in successive attacks. The most notable event is the storming of Lookout Mountain on November 24 and Battle of Missionary Ridge the following day. The decisive Union victory sends the Confederate Army south into Georgia where General Bragg reorganizes his forces before resigning from command on November 30.
November 26-December 1, 1863- The Mine Run Campaign. Meade's Army of the Potomac marches against Lee's Army of Northern Virginia south of the Rapidan River, east of Orange Court House. Lee reacts and throws up a line of defenses along the banks of Mine Run Creek. After several days of probing the defenses, Meade withdraws north of the Rapidan and goes into winter quarters.
November 27 to December 3, 1863- Siege of Knoxville, Tennessee. Confederate troops under General James Longstreet lay siege to the city of Knoxville held by Union forces under General Ambrose Burnside. Longstreet finally attacks on November 30 but is repulsed with heavy losses. The arrival of Union reinforcements forces him to withdraw to Greeneville, Tennessee, where his corps will spend the winter.
December 8, 1863- Lincoln Issues his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which would pardon those who participated in the "existing rebellion" if they take an oath to the Union.