The American Civil War was fought between the years of 1861 and 1865. This four year long struggle began with a series of events at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, and ended in April 1865 beginning with Robert E. Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox. Asking "When was the Civil War?" is a very broad question. For complete clarity I've compiled a two part timeline, so you can see each step of the start and end of the Civil War. Start of the American Civil War 1859 - October 16-18, John Brown attacks a Federal Armory in Harpers Ferry in an attempt to collect arms for a slave insurrection.1859 - December 2, John Brown hanged for Murder and Treason.1860 - November 6, Abraham Lincoln elected president of the United States.1860 - December 20, South Carolina votes to secede from the Union.1861 - January 9, The Star of the West, an unarmed merchant vessel is fired upon while attempting to resupply the Federally held Fort Sumter at Charleston harbor in South Carolina.1861 - January 9 , Mississippi secedes from the Union.1861 - January 10, Florida secedes from the Union.1861 - January 11, Alabama secedes from the Union.1861 - January 13, Mississippi Militia near Vicksburg fired on the river steamer A. O. Tyler, believing it was carrying Union troops and munitions down the Mississippi River.1861 - January 19, Georgia secedes from the Union.1861 - January 26, Louisiana secedes from the Union.1861 - January 29, Kansas is admitted to the Union as a state prohibiting slavery.1861 - February 1, Texas secedes from the Union.1861 - February 4, Delegates of the seceding states meet in Montgomery, Alabama, and form the Confederate States of America.1861 - February 11, Jefferson Davis chosen as President of the Confederate States of America by delegates of the seceding states.1861 - February 18, Jefferson Davis inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America.1861 - March 4, Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the sixteenth President of the United States.1861 - April 12, Beginning at 4:30am, Fort Sumter is bombarded by South Carolina troops under the command of General P.G.T. Beauregard.1861 - April 13, After 34 hours of bombardment, Fort Sumter surrenders to South Carolina troops.1861 - April 15, Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers to enlist for 3 months of service to put down the insurrection.1861 - April 17, Virginia secedes from the Union.1861 - May 6, Arkansas secedes from the Union.1861 - May 20, North Carolina secedes from the Union.1861 - June 8, Tennessee secedes from the Union.1861 - July 21, Battle of Bull Run, the first major battle of the American Civil War. End of the American Civil War 1865 - April 2, The Confederate government evacuates its capital, Richmond.1865 - April 3, Union troops occupy Richmond.1865 - April 9, Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at Appomattox.1865 - April 14, John Wilkes Booth shoots President Lincoln at Ford’s Theater.1865 - April 15, Lincoln dies, and Andrew Johnson is inaugurated as President.1865 - April 26, Joseph E. Johnston surrenders to William T. Sherman in North Carolina.1865 - May 10, Jefferson Davis is captured and taken prisoner near Irwinville, Georgia.1865 - May 12-13, Final Battle of the Civil War at Palmetto Ranch, Texas1865 - May 26, In New Orleans, terms of surrender are offered to General E. Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department.1865 - June 2, General E. Kirby Smith accepts New Orleans' terms of surrender, formally ending Confederate resistance.1865 - June 23, Last significant Confederate active force to surrender was the Confederate allied Cherokee Brig. Gen. Stand Watie and his Indian soldiers.1865 - June 25, Last shot of the American Civil War fired by the CSS Shenandoah at a Union whaler near the Aleutian Islands.1865 - November 6, the last Confederate surrender, the Confederate Commerce Raider CSS Shenandoah was turned in.1866 - August 20, President Andrew Johnson formally declares the end of the war.