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1861 in the United States Decades: 1840s 1850s – 1860s – 1870s 1880s Years: 1858 1859 1860 – 1861 – 1862 1863 1864 Flag 34 stars (1861 – 1863) Timeline of United States history (1860–1899) History of the United States (1849–1865) Events from the year 1861 in the United States. This year marked the beginning of the American Civil War. Contents 1 Incumbents 2 Events 2.1 January–March 2.2 April–June 2.3 July–September 2.4 October–December 2.5 Ongoing 3 External links // Incumbents President: James Buchanan (Democratic) (until March 4), Abraham Lincoln (Republican/National Union) (starting March 4) Vice President: John C. Breckinridge (Democratic) (until March 4), Hannibal Hamlin (Republican) (starting March 4) Chief Justice: Roger B. Taney Speaker of the House of Representatives: William Pennington (R-New Jersey) (until March 4), Galusha A. Grow (R-Pennsylvania) (starting July 4) Congress: 36th (until March 4), 37th (starting March 4) Events January–March Confederate States of America January 3 – American Civil War: Delaware votes not to secede from the Union. January 9 – Mississippi becomes the second state to secede from the Union, preceding the American Civil War. January 10 – American Civil War: Florida secedes from the Union. January 11 – American Civil War: Alabama secedes from the Union. January 12 – Major Robert Anderson sends dispatches to Washington. January 18 – American Civil War: Georgia secedes from the Union. January 21 – American Civil War: Jefferson Davis resigns from the United States Senate. January 26 – American Civil War: Louisiana secedes from the Union. January 29 – Kansas is admitted as the 34th U.S. state. February 1 – American Civil War: Texas secedes from the Union. February 4 – American Civil War: Delegates from six seceded states meet at the Montgomery Convention in Montgomery, Alabama. February 8 – American Civil War: The Confederate States of America adopts the Provisional Confederate States Constitution. February 9 – American Civil War: Jefferson Davis is elected the Provisional President of the Confederate States of America by the Weed Convention at Montgomery, Alabama. February 11 – American Civil War: The U.S. House unanimously passes a resolution guaranteeing non-interference with slavery in any state. February 18 – American Civil War: In Montgomery, Alabama, Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as the provisional president of the Confederate States of America. February 23 – President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, D.C. after an assassination attempt in Baltimore, Maryland. February 28 – Colorado is organized as a United States territory. March 2 – Nevada is organized as a United States territory. March 4 – President Abraham Lincoln takes office, succeeding James Buchanan. March 4 – American Civil War: The Stars and Bars is adopted as the flag of the Confederate States of America. March 11 – American Civil War: The Confederate States Constitution is adopted. April–June April 12–13: Battle of Fort Sumter, the beginning of the American Civil War April 12 – Battle of Fort Sumter: The American Civil War begins at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. April 13 – Battle of Fort Sumter: Fort Sumter surrenders to Southern forces. April 17 – The state of Virginia secedes from the Union. April 20 – American Civil War: Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army in order to command the forces of the state of Virginia. April 25 – American Civil War: The Union Army arrives in Washington, D.C. April 27 – American Civil War: President Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus in the United States. West Virginia secedes from Virginia. May 6 – American Civil War: Arkansas secedes from the Union. May 7 – American Civil War: Tennessee secedes from the Union. May 8 – American Civil War: Richmond, Virginia is named the capital of the Confederate States of America. May 10 – American Civil War – Camp Jackson Affair: Union military forces clash with civilians on the streets of St. Louis, Missouri, resulting in the deaths of at least 28 people and injuries to another 100. May 13 – American Civil War: Victoria of the United Kingdom issues a "proclamation of neutrality" which recognizes the breakaway states as having belligerent rights. May 20 – American Civil War: Kentucky proclaims its neutrality which lasts until September 3, when Confederate forces enter the state. May 20 – American Civil War: North Carolina secedes from the Union. July–September July 21: Confederate victory at the First Battle of Bull Run July 13 – American Civil War: The Battle of Corrick's Ford takes place in western Virginia. July 21 – American Civil War – First Battle of Bull Run: At Manassas Junction, Virginia, the first major battle of the war ends in a Confederate victory. July 25 – American Civil War: The Crittenden-Johnson Resolution is passed by the U.S. Congress, stating that the war is being fought to preserve the Union and not to end slavery. July 26 – American Civil War: George B. McClellan assumes command of the Army of the Potomac following a disastrous Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run. August 5 American Civil War: In order to help pay for the war effort, the United States government issues the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US $800; rescinded in 1872). The U.S. Army abolishes flogging. September 3 – American Civil War: Confederate General Leonidas Polk invades neutral Kentucky, prompting the state legislature to ask for Union assistance. September 6 – American Civil War: Forces under Union General Ulysses S. Grant bloodlessly capture Paducah, Kentucky, which gives the Union control the mouth of the Tennessee River. October–December November 6: Jefferson Davis elected President of the CSA October 9 – American Civil War – Battle of Santa Rosa Island: Confederate forces are defeated in their effort to take the island. October 21 – American Civil War – Battle of Ball's Bluff: Union forces under Colonel Edward Baker are defeated by Confederate troops in the second major battle of the war. Baker, a close friend of Abraham Lincoln, is killed in the fighting. October 28 – The Missouri legislature takes up a bill for Missouri's secession from the Union. October 30 – The bill is passed for Missouri's secession from the Union. October 31 Missouri's secession from the Union bill is signed by Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson. American Civil War: Citing failing health, Union General Winfield Scott resigns as Commander of the United States Army. November 1 – American Civil War: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln appoints George B. McClellan as commander of the Union Army, replacing the aged General Winfield Scott. November 2 – American Civil War: Western Department Union General John C. Fremont is relieved of command and replaced by David Hunter. November 6 – American Civil War: Jefferson Davis is elected president of the Confederate States of America. November 7 – American Civil War – Battle of Belmont: In Belmont, Missouri, Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant overrun a Confederate camp but are forced to retreat when Confederate reinforcements arrive. November 8 – American Civil War – Trent Affair: The USS San Jacinto stops the United Kingdom mail ship Trent and arrests two Confederate envoys, James Mason and John Slidell, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the U.K. and U.S. November 21 – American Civil War: Confederate President Jefferson Davis appoints Judah Benjamin Secretary of War. November 28 – American Civil War: Acting on the ordinance passed by the Jackson government, the Confederate Congress admits Missouri as the 12th Confederate state. December 10 – American Civil War: Kentucky is accepted into the Confederate States of America. Ongoing Secession crisis (1860–1861) American Civil War (1861–1865) External links Media related to 1861 in the United States at Wikimedia Commons