February 9, 1864- Escape from Libby Prison, Richmond. After weeks of digging, 109 Union officers made their escape from the notorious Libby Prison, the largest and most sensational escape of the war. Though 48 of the escapees were later captured and two drowned, 59 were able to make their way into Union lines.
February 27, 1864- In Georgia, Camp Sumter Prison Camp opens. Universally referred to as Andersonville Prison Camp, it will become notorious for overcrowded conditions and a high death rate among its inmates.
February 14-20, 1864- Union Capture and Occupation of Meridian, Mississippi. Union forces under William T. Sherman enter the city of Meridian, Mississippi after a successful month of campaigning through the central part of the state. The capture of this important southern town, well known for its industry and storage capabilities, severely hampers the efforts of Confederate commanders to sustain their armies in the deep south, Georgia and west of the Mississippi River.
February 17, 1864- First Successful Submarine Attack of the Civil War. The CSS H.L. Hunley, a seven-man submergible craft, attacked the USS Houstonic outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Struck by the submarine's torpedo, the Housatonic broke apart and sank, taking all but five of her crew with her. Likewise, the Hunley was also lost and never heard from again until discovered in 1995 at the spot where it sank after the attack.
March 2, 1864- Ulysses S. Grant is appointed lieutenant general, a rank revived at the request of President Lincoln. Grant assumes command of all Union Armies in the field the following day.
March 10, 1864- The Red River Campaign begins. As part of an overall Union strategy to strike deep into various parts of the Confederacy, a combined force of army and navy commands under General Nathaniel Banks begins a campaign on the Red River in Louisiana.
April 8, 1864- Battle of Sabine Crossroads or Mansfield, Louisiana, the first major battle of the Red River Campaign in Louisiana.
April 9, 1864- Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. The Union Army under Banks defeats the attempt by Confederate forces under General Richard Taylor to drive them out of Louisiana. Unfortunately, the result of the campaign would be less than desired as it drew to a close in the first week of May with Confederates still in firm control of most of the state.
April 12, 1864- Capture of Fort Pillow, Tennessee. After a rapid raid through central and western Tennessee, Confederate cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked and overwhelmed the Union garrison at Fort Pillow, located on the Mississippi River. Among those garrisoning the fort were African American troops, many of whom were murdered by Forrest's angered troopers after they had surrendered. The affair was investigated and though charges of an atrocity were denied by Confederate authorities, the events at Fort Pillow cast a pall over Forrest's reputation and remained an emotional issue throughout the remainder of the war and after.
May 4-5, 1864- Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia, the opening battle of the "Overland Campaign" or "Wilderness Campaign". General Ulysses S. Grant, accompanying the Army of the Potomac under General Meade, issued orders for the campaign to begin on May 3. Lee responded by attacking the Union column in the dense woods and underbrush of an area known as the Wilderness, west of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
May 7, 1864- Beginning of the Atlanta Campaign. With three Union armies under his command, General William T. Sherman marched south from Tennessee into Georgia against the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Joseph Johnston, the objective being the city of Atlanta.
May 8-21, 1864- Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia. Lee successfully stalls Grant's drive toward Richmond.
May 11, 1864- Battle of Yellow Tavern. Six miles north of Richmond, Confederate cavalry under General J.E.B. Stuart blocked a force of Union cavalry under General Philip Sheridan. General Stuart was mortally wounded during the encounter.
May 14-15, 1864- Battle of Resaca, Georgia. General Sherman's armies are blocked at Resaca by General Johnston's Army of Tennessee. After two days of maneuvering and intense fighting, Johnston withdraws. Sherman will advance but take precautions against ordering any further massed assaults where high casualties may occur.
June 1-3, 1864- Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia. Relentless and bloody Union attacks fail to dislodge Lee's army from its strong line of defensive works northeast of Richmond.
June 8, 1864- Abraham Lincoln is nominated by his party for a second term as president.
June 10, 1864- Battle of Brice's Crossroads, Mississippi- In spite of being outnumbered almost two to one, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest attacks and routs the Union command under General Samuel Sturgis.
June 15-18, 1864- Assault on Petersburg, Virginia. After withdrawing from the lines at Cold Harbor, the Army of the Potomac crossed the James River and with troops from the Army of the James attacked the outer defenses of Petersburg, the primary junction for several southern railroads. After four days of bloody attacks, Grant accepts that only a siege can systematically isolate the city and cut off Confederate supplies to the capital of Richmond.
June 19, 1864- The USS Kearsarge sinks the Confederate raider CSSAlabama near Cherbourg, France.
June 27, 1864- Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia. After weeks of maneuvering and battles, Sherman's Army of the Cumberland and Army of the Tennessee smash headlong into Johnston's carefully planned defenses at Big and Little Kennesaw. Johnston remains on this line until July 2, when he retreats at the threat being flanked by Sherman's mobile force.
July 9, 1864- Battle of Monocacy, Maryland. In an attempt to draw Union troops away from the ongoing siege of Petersburg and Richmond, a Confederate force under Jubal Early quietly moved north into Maryland. Early had made excellent progress until he reached Frederick, Maryland, where a force of 6,000 Federal troops under General Lew Wallace, was arrayed to delay his advance. Though the battle was a Union defeat, it was also touted as "the battle that saved Washington" for it succeeded in holding back Early's march until troops could be sent to the capital's defense.
July 11-12, 1864- Attack on the Defenses of Washington. Jubal Early's troops arrive on the outskirts of Washington City, and trade cannon fire with a token Union force remaining in the forts around the city. President Lincoln observes the skirmishing from Fort Stevens as reinforcements from the Army of the Potomac arrive and quickly fill in the works. Early withdraws that evening.
July 14-15, 1864- Battles near Tupelo, Mississippi. The Union defeat of Nathan Bedford Forrest secured the supply lines to Sherman's armies operating against Atlanta, Georgia.
July 17, 1864- General John Bell Hood replaces General Joseph Johnston as commander of the Army of Tennessee. This change in command signals a new Confederate strategy to thwart Sherman's campaign, though the end result will be disastrous for the southern cause.
July 20, 1864- Battle of Peachtree Creek, Georgia, the first major battle around the city of Atlanta. General Hood sends his army out of the city's defenses to attack the approaching Federal troops under George Thomas. After several hours of fierce fighting, Hood withdrew back to his own defensive works.
July 21, 1864- The Battle of Atlanta. Hood's second effort to throw back Union forces under Sherman brings him heavy casualties with no positive results. General James McPherson, commander of the Union Army of the Tennessee, is killed during the fighting.
July 30, 1864- The Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Virginia. After a month of tunneling by soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, a massive mine was exploded under a Confederate fort in the Petersburg siege lines. The infantry charge that followed was poorly coordinated and by day's end, Confederate counterattacks had driven out the Union troops and the siege lines remained unchanged.
August 5, 1864- Battle of Mobile Bay. A Union fleet under Admiral David Farragut steamed into Mobile Bay outside the city of Mobile, Alabama, defended by two strong forts and a small southern flotilla, including the formidable ironclad CSS Tennessee. Farragut's ships defeated the Confederate ships and bypassed the forts, capturing the important southern port.
August 18-19, 1864- Battles on the Weldon Railroad near Petersburg, Virginia. Union attempts to capture this important railroad into Petersburg were stopped by Confederate counterattacks. Despite southern efforts, the Union remained in firm possession of their gains and the railroad.
August 25, 1864- Battle of Ream's Station, near Petersburg, Virginia. A surprise Confederate counterattack briefly stopped Union destruction of the Weldon Railroad near Ream's Station, though failed to release the Union grip on this important supply line into Petersburg.
August 31- September 1, 1864- Battle of Jonesborough, Georgia. The final southern counterattack against Union troops outside the city of Atlanta fails.
September 1, 1864- Fall of Atlanta, Georgia. Confederate troops under General Hood evacuate the city of Atlanta. General Sherman's army occupies the city and its defenses the following day.
September 19, 1864- Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia. Union forces under General Philip Sheridan attacked the Confederate army under Jubal Early near the city of Winchester and drove them southward, up the Shenandoah Valley.
September 22, 1864- Battle of Fisher's Hill, Virginia. The Union Army of the Shenandoah under General Philip Sheridan attacked Jubal Early's Confederates near Fisher's Hill, overpowering the southerners and again forcing them to flee the battlefield. Union officers and officials in Washington believe this to be the final battle in the Shenandoah Valley.
September 29-30, 1864- Battle of Fort Harrison near Richmond, Virginia. In a sweeping assault, the Confederate stronghold known as Fort Harrison falls to the Army of the James. Confederate efforts to retake the fort fail.
October 19, 1864- The Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia. In an early morning surprise attack, Jubal Early's Confederates successfully attack and drive troops of the Army of the Shenandoah from their camps on the banks of Cedar Creek south of Middletown, Virginia. Hearing the fight from his headquarters at Winchester, General Philip Sheridan rides southward, rallying dispirited troops who return to the battlefield. By day's end, Early's forces are put to flight. Despite several attempts to disrupt the Union advance in the coming weeks, the battle for control of the Shenandoah Valley is over.
November 8, 1864- Abraham Lincoln is reelected president of the United States.
November 16, 1864- General Sherman's Army of Georgia begins the "March to the Sea".
November 30, 1864- Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. After a month of raiding Sherman's supply lines and attacking Union outposts, John Bell Hood's army confronts Union troops from General John Schofield's command, who they had encountered the day before near Spring Hill, Tennessee. A massive frontal assault on the well entrenched Federal line meets with disaster. Despite some taking of outside works and defenses, the toll for Hood's forces is too heavy including the loss of six of his generals. Union troops retreat in the direction of Nashville.
December 10, 1864- Harassed only by scattered Georgia militia, Sherman's Army of Georgia arrives at Savannah, Georgia, completing the famous "March to the Sea". At Savannah, his troops will take Fort McAllister and force Confederate defenders to evacuate the city.
December 15-16, 1864- The Battle of Nashville, Tennessee. The Confederate Army under John Bell Hood is thoroughly defeated and the threat to Tennessee ends.