Today, April 12, is one of those days when so much happened

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.

In 1981, it was the date of very first shuttle mission (STS-1) with the Columbia.

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.



2 thoughts on “Today, April 12, is one of those days when so much happened”

  1. I’ve had a bit of Gagarin on the mind the past few days, for mostly unrelated reasons. I drove to Queens for the Mets home opener last Friday, and wound up parking on the fairgrounds next door from the 1939-40 and 1964-65 expositions (the latter I attended when I was a weesmall).

    (The story of the whole adventure is here.)

    Anyway. I did some reading-up on the event, particularly the things I got pictures of. Most famous among them is probably the Unisphere.

    I’d forgotten (Eleanor vaguely remembered) what the three rings around the planet represented: the orbits of Gagarin, Alan Shepard, and the first communications sat.

    There’s also a great story about that Andy Warhol mosaic, but I’ll save that for another time.

    1. Heya Ray!

      I think one of my older relatives attended the 1939 World’s Fair. At least I remember having a long conversation about it at a family clam boil when I was a kid. It must have really been something. The parachute towers we used in airborne school at Fort Benning were very similar to the one at the fair. I think they were designed by the same guy.

      Happy for you that the Mets won. Sadly, Boston’s opening day at Fenway was not nearly as happy.

      As always, thanks for stopping by the blog!


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