Legal Tender Act (February).
Morrill Land Grant Act (July).
Battle of Fredericksburg (December).
Second Confiscation Act (July).
Seven Days’ Battles (June–July).
David G. Farragut captures New Orleans (April).
George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign (March–July).
Congress decrees that blacks be allowed to serve in the Union Army.
Congress bans slavery in all U.S. territories and District of Columbia.
Confederate Congress passes the Conscription Act (April).
African American seaman Robert Smalls turns Confederate ship over to Union.
A monthly "police tax" of $2.50 imposed on every Chinese in California.
Six Chinese American district associations form a coalition in San Francisco.
First Jewish chaplain appointed in U.S. Army.
Homestead Act grants ownership after five years to settlers who occupy and farm up to 160 acres.
Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac signals end of the era of wooden ships.
Pacific Railroad Act (July).
Union forces win Battle of Shiloh, with heavy losses on both sides (April).
Confederate troops win Second Battle of Bull Run, pushing northern army back to Washington (August).
Union wins Battle of Antietam; bloodiest day in U.S. military history (September).
Emancipation Proclamation published in northern newspapers (September 23).
Emily Dickinson sends four poems to Thomas Wentworth Higginson.
A report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture describes the average farm woman as a "laboring drudge" who works harder than any other farm worker, including her husband.
Mathew Brady exhibits Civil War battlefield photographs.