- Relief Ship to Ft. Sumter Fired Upon. An unarmed merchant ship, , carrying Union recruits to reinforce at Fort Sumter, was fired on. Anderson, cut off by land by South Carolina's secession two weeks earlier, had moved his 75 men out to the red brick fortress in Charleston harbor. Rebel Charles Haynesworth, a Citadel cadet, fired a handgun at the ship, shooting the first shot of the Civil War. In a later volley, a cannonball was put across the bow, alerting the Southern militiamen at Sullivan Island's Fort Moultrie. They hit the unarmed vessel twice before it turned about and fled.
- The Gettysburg Address. President delivers a two minute Gettysburg Address at the military cemetery dedication ceremony in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before usthat from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotionthat we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vainthat this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedomand that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth".
The American Civil War (1860-1865) 1860 1861 1862 1863 1864 1865
- Battle of Opequon (also known as the Third Battle of Winchester). Maj. Gen. had been given command of the Army of the Shenandoah and sent to the Shenandoah Valley to deal with the Confederate threat under Lieutenant General . For much of the early fall of 1864, Sheridan and Early had cautiously engaged in minor skirmishes while each side tested the other's strength. Early mistook this limited action to mean that Sheridan was too afraid to fight and he left his army spread out from Martinsburg to Winchester. Sheridan learned of Early's dispersed forces and immediately struck out after Winchester, the location of two previous major engagements during the war, both Confederate victories. Early quickly gathered his army back together at Winchester just in time to meet Sheridan's attack on September 19. The Union forces coming in from the east had to march through narrow canyons and roads, which eventually got clogged up with supply wagons and troops delaying the attack. This delay allowed Early to further strengthen his lines. 's division arrived from the north and took up position on the Confederate left. By noon Sheridan's troops had made it to the field and he ordered a frontal attack along Early's lines. 's Union VI Corps on the left flank halted when faced with well entrenched Confederates on a hilltop supported by artillery. The XIX Corps, under William H. Emory, to the north of the VI Corps, drove Gordon's division through some woods, but when the Yankees continued pursuing the Rebels through they were cut down by artillery as they entered the clearing on the far side. The VI Corps resumed its advance and began driving back the Confederate right flank, but the VI and XIX Corps were slowly moving apart from each other and a gap appeared between them. Brig. Gen. David Russell's division was rushed forward to plug the gap. Russell was hit in the chest, but continued moving his division forward. The brigade of Brig. Gen. Emory Upton reached the gap, but was too latethe Confederates had already launched a counterattack through the gap. Upton placed his men in line of battle and charged. Leading the charge was a young colonel named Ranald S. Mackenzie, commanding an artillery regiment serving as infantry. Russell received a second bullet and fell mortally wounded. Upton assumed command of the division and a lull came over the battlefield. At this point Sheridan called the battle a "splendid victory", but had no intentions of stopping the fight just yet. Sheridan sent the VIII Corps under to find the Confederate left flank. Meanwhile, cavalry units under were swinging around the Confederate right flank. With the three corps in line, Sheridan ordered them all forward. This new advance did not start well. Crook's troops had to march through a swamp and the XIX Corps was not advancing at all. General Upton was struggling to persuade the XIX Corps units on his flank to move forward with his own division when an artillery shot tore off a chunk of his thigh. The surgeon was able to stop the bleeding and Upton ordered a stretcher brought forward from which he would direct his troops for the rest of the battle. Finally the Confederate lines began to give way. Sheridan, so excited by the imminent victory, rode along the lines waving his hat and shouting. Late in the day, two divisions of Union cavalry arrived from the north and came thundering into the Confederate left flank. The division of crushed the Confederate works while the division of William H. Averell swung around the flank. The Confederate army was in full retreat. Caught in the retreat were the wives of several Confederate generals staying in Winchester. John B. Gordon was forced to leave his wife behind in attempts to keep his troops intact, believing she would become a prisoner of the Union army. She did, however, manage to escape in time. The Battle of Opequon marked a turning point in the Shenandoah Valley in favor of the North. Early's army for the most part remained intact but suffered further defeats at Fisher's Hill and Tom's Brook. Exactly a month later, the Valley Campaigns came to a close after Early's defeat at the Battle of Cedar Creek. Victory in the Valley, along with other Union victories in the fall of 1864, helped win re-election for .