26 May 2007

This day in history: 26 May

1637: A combined Puritan force under Captain John Mason, accompanied by Mohegan warriors, attacked a Pequot village in Connecticut, near modern-day Mystic, and massacred approximately 500 men, women and children.

1736: French troops, commanded by the Sieur de Bienville, and their Choctaw allies attacked the Chickasaw village of Ackia, near present-day Tupelo, Mississippi, but were repulsed by the defenders.

1805: Napoleon assumed the title of King of Italy, and was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy in the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral).

1828: Kaspar Hauser was discovered wandering the streets of Nuremberg, Germany.

1830: The Indian Removal Act was passed by the U.S. Congress; it was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson two days later.

1864: Montana was organized as a United States territory.

1865: Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commanding the Confederate Trans-Mississippi division, surrendered at Galveston, Texas - the last Confederate general to surrender.

1868: The impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson ended. Johnson was found not guilty by a margin of one vote.

1938: The House Un-American Activities Committee began its first session.

1940: Operation DYNAMO, the evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkirk, France, began.

1941: Over thirty hours after British forces lost contact with the German battleship Bismarck, she was spotted by a PBY Catalina flying boat. Two air attacks were launched from HMS Ark Royal; the first group of Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers mistakenly attacked light cruiser HMS Sheffield, but the second group scored two or three hits, one of which jammed Bismarck's rudder.

1943: Private Joe P Martinez, 32d Infantry, 7th Infantry Division, was taking part in an attack on Japanese positions in the mountains of Attu Island, Alaska, when the attack faltered. Despite severe enemy machinegun, rifle, and mortar fire, Martinez, an automatic rifleman, rose to his feet and resumed his advance. After clearing one position, about 150 feet below the main Holtz-Chichagof Pass, Martinez again led the troops on and up, eventually reaching the pass itself. Just below the rim of the pass, Martinez encountered a final enemy-occupied trench and was mortally wounded whilst firing into it. Martinez was awarded the Medal of Honor.

1944: When his platoon was held up by enemy fire during an attack on the German Anzio-Nettuno defense line near Cisterna, Italy, First Lieutenant Beryl R Newman, 133d Infantry, 34th Infantry Division, advanced alone to clear the enemy positions. By the time he was done, he had, single-handed, silenced three enemy machineguns, wounded two Germans, killed two more, and taken eleven prisoners. Newman was awarded the Medal of Honor.

1948: The U.S. Congress passed Public Law 557, permanently establishing the Civil Air Patrol as an auxiliary of the US Air Force.

1969: Apollo 10 (Thomas P Stafford, John W Young and Eugene A Cernan) returned to earth after a successful eight-day test of all the components needed for the forthcoming first manned moon landing.

1972: The United States and the Soviet Union signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

1977: George Willig climbed the South Tower of New York City's World Trade Center.

Edmund I of England (921–946), Samuel Pepys FRS (1633–1703), Sir Sidney Smith KCB (1764–1840), Abd al-Qādir (1808-1883), Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933), Edsel Ford (1893–1943), Lincoln Ellsworth (1880-1951), Friz Freleng (1906–1995) and Eddie Albert (1906–2005) died on this date.

And happy birthday to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650–1722), HSH Princess Mary of Teck (1867–1953), John Wayne (1907-1979), Jay Silverheels (1912–1980), Peter Cushing OBE (1913–1994), Peggy Lee (1920–2002), James Arness (1923-TBD), Hank Williams Jr (1949-TBD), Sally Ride (1951-TBD) and Genie Francis (1962-TBD).