Tennessee Civil War Timeline, 1861–1865
Check out these key dates in Tennessee's storied Civil War history, and learn where you can relive those moments across the state.
June 8, 1861
Tennessee becomes the last Southern state to secede from the Union. A good place to start your tour is at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, which houses one of the largest exhibits of uniforms, battle flags and weapons in the country.
December 11, 1861
Confederates declare martial law in East Tennessee after local Unionists burn railroad bridges in an effort to hamper Confederate movements. In Greeneville, six Civil War Trail markers direct travellers to some of these crucial sites.
February 6, 1862
The Battle of Fort Henry results in Confederate defeat opening the Tennessee River to Federal forces. Ten days later, Fort Donelson falls too, putting the Cumberland River in Federal control. "The Tennessee River Runs Through It" is a CD/DVD driving trail highlighting key Civil War sites along the Tennessee River in eight counties.
March 3, 1862
Lincoln appoints Tennessee Senator Andrew Johnson, a native of Greeneville, military governor of the state. You can visit his early home and gravesite at the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greeneville.
April 6–7, 1862
One of the bloodiest battles of the war ends in Confederate defeat at Shiloh. At Shiloh Military Park you can take a 9.5 mile audio driving tour of the battlefield.
Active Confederate smuggling begins in Memphis with women slipping in many items hidden in their hoop skirts. In two years, Tennesseans smuggle some $20 million in supplies into the city. Visit the Inn at Hunt-Phelan, an antebellum mansion that served as General Grant's headquarters.
June 6, 1862
The Battle of Memphis opens the Mississippi River to Federal control all the way to Vicksburg. Learn about the river's significance in the Civil War at the Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island in Memphis.
December 31, 1862
The Battle of Stones River ends in Confederate defeat, opening Middle Tennessee to the Federals. Visit Murfreesboro's Fortress Rosecrans, the largest earthern fort ever built in North America. Freed slaves and Union soldiers built the port to protect local rail lines.
September 19, 1863
A major Confederate victory in the Western theatre of the war, the Battle of Chickamauga drove Federal troops back to Chattanooga. You can experience the famous "Battle Above the Clouds" at Chattanooga's Point Park on Lookout Mountain.