Reconstruction Period Research Forum
• Congress abolishes slavery in Washington, D.C.
• Congress authorizes the enlistment of blacks into the Union army.
• The First South Carolina Volunteers, a regiment of freed slaves, is mustered into the Union army at Beaufort, South Carolina.
• Harriet Tubman leads Union troops in a raid along the Combahee River in South Carolina.
• In California, Mary Ellen Pleasant succeeds in pushing through a state law that gives African Americans the right to testify in court.
• Union military operations in Mississippi free thousands of slaves between January and July. Many work as wage laborers for General Ulysses S. Grant 's army. (See also Blacks in the Union Army .)
• The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment , the first all black regiment from the North, loses half of its men in a charge at Fort Wagner, South Carolina. (See also Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment Attacks Fort Wagner .)
• The New York Draft Riots leave one thousand people dead or wounded. Blacks are the principal targets of the violence.
• President Lincoln issues a plan to pardon Confederates who are willing to take an oath of loyalty to the U.S. Constitution and to abide by federal laws and proclamations concerning slaves. Radical Republican criticism of the proposal as too moderate leads to its defeat, and Congress instead passes the Wade-Davis Bill.
• General William T. Sherman's march from Atlanta to the sea liberates thousands of Georgia slaves. Many follow the army, experiencing great hardship in the winter months.