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1 – The Lincoln administration releases Confederate emissaries James Mason and John Slidell from Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, ending the Trent Affair. The diplomats continued their voyage to Europe, on an unsuccessful mission to win support for the Confederacy from Britain and France.

Stonewall Jackson begins the Romney Campaign near Winchester, Va.

11 – Simon Cameron resigns as U.S. Secretary of War.

13 – Confederate Congress passes legislation authorizing the Confederate Territory of Arizona. Jefferson Davis signs the proclamation the next day.

15 – Edwin M. Stanton confirmed as new Secretary of War.

26 – General P.G.T. Beauregard transferred to the Western Theater, under General Albert Sidney Johnston.

27 – President Lincoln issues General War Order No. 1, requiring the Union’s armed forces to initiate a unified attack against the Confederacy on February 22. General in Chief George B. McClellan ignores it.

30 – The U.S. Navy launches its first ironclad, the Monitor, in Greenpoint, N.Y.

31 – Lincoln issues Special War Order No. 1, requiring the Army of the Potomac to advance toward Richmond by February 22.


1 – Atlantic Monthly publishes Julia Ward Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic”—on its front page.

2 – Captain David Farragut, recently appointed commander of the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, leaves Hampton Roads, Va., for the southern Mississippi River.

3 – Secretary of War Edwin Stanton receives a 22-page letter from General McClellan objecting to the president’s orders, and outlining plans for what would become the Peninsula Campaign.

6 – Confederate commander Lloyd Tilghman surrenders Fort Henry on the Tennessee River.

8 – Union Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stone arrested and sent to Fort Lafayette, N.Y., on suspicion of treason in the aftermath of the loss at Ball’s Bluff; he is never formally charged.

11-17 – Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s victory at Fort Donelson in Tennessee earns him the sobriquet “Unconditional Surrender” Grant—and keeps Kentucky in the Union. Grant is promoted to major general of volunteers February 17.

18 – The First Confederate Congress convenes in Richmond.

The West Virginia Constitutional Convention completes work on its first constitution.

20 – William Wallace “Willie” Lincoln, the president’s 11-year-old son, dies from an illness likely contracted from drinking contaminated water.

22 – Jefferson Davis inaugurated for a full six-year term as president of the Confederate States of America.

25 – Congress authorizes use of “United States Notes,” also called “Legal Tender Notes,” as a new class of currency.