Today’s date is a day on which so many things happened, I doubt I can even remember them all.
Of course, it is the day that in 1861 the Civil War started with an artillery bombardment of the Union garrison in Fort Sumter, in the middle of Charleston Harbor. That’s a gimme for a Civil War historian like me.
The following year, 1862, it’s the day that the Andrews’ Raid (perhaps more well-known as the Great Locomotive Chase), about which there was a movie made many years ago, began. Six soldiers who participated in this raid were the first ever recipients of the Medal of Honor.
In 1864, it was on this terrible day that Confederate forces under Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest captured Fort Pillow, in western Tennessee along the Mississippi River, and proceeded to massacre much of the Union garrison, who were made up of freed slaves and white Southern Unionists.
In 1865, it was the day that Union forces formally accepted the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, at a ceremony in which Confederate troops stacked their arms and their flags. The officer commanding the Union troops at the ceremony was a hero of mine, a former college professor named Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, now a Brevet Major General. It’s also the day Union forces captured Mobile, Alabama.
But April 12th is a day on which a lot of other things happened in the course of history. Let’s see what I can remember and what I have to look up.
I know it’s the day that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in 1945.
It’s the day that Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin first went into space in 1961.
I know the RMS Titanic was on its maiden voyage in 1912. I know it left Southampton on April 10th, and left Cork Harbor in Ireland on the 11th, so the 12th it was its first full day at sea, I suppose.
That’s all I can remember off the top of my head.
Well, it turns out other big things happened on April 12th over the centuries. Stuff I either didn’t know or didn’t remember.
It was the day in 1204 when crusaders from the Fourth Crusade finally breached the walls of the city of Constantinople and captured it. Man, I don’t think I knew that this was the day that happened. I do remember that after the city was captured, the crusaders spent three days utterly wrecking the city, not even sparing the churches and libraries. God, I wonder what sort of texts were lost to history that day.
Oh, wow, in 1934 it was also the day that a record-breaking linear wind speed of 234 mph was recorded at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. That record held until 1996, when a wind gust of 253 mph was recorded in Australia as part of Cyclone Olivia. A weather geek like me should know that.
Anyway, enough for now.