06 May 2007

This day in history: 6 May

1527: Spanish and German troops, led by Charles III, Duke of Bourbon, sacked Rome.

1840: The Penny Black postage stamp, which was issued on 1 May, became valid for use in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

1860: Giuseppe Garibaldi's "Mille" set sail from Quarto, a district of Genoa, on the ships Il Piemonte and Il Lombardo, bound for Sicily.

1861: Arkansas became the ninth state to secede from the Union.

1863: The Battle of Chancellorsville ended in a Confederate victory over Hooker's Army of the Potomac.

1864: On the second day of the Battle of the Wilderness, Sergeant Henri LeF Brown, 72nd New York Infantry, voluntarily crossed the field of battle thrice under a heavy fire from the enemy, carrying ammunition in a blanket on his back, supplying the Federal forces and enabling them to hold their position until reinforcements arrived. Sergeant Thomas Burk, 97th New York Infantry, returned under Confederate fire and, finding Colonel Charles Wheelock, commanding officer of the regiment, unable to move, carried him off the field of battle. First Sergeant Edmund English, 2nd New Jersey Infantry, whilst under orders to retreat during a rout, seized the colours, rallied his men, and drove the enemy back. These three men, and ten others, were subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions on this day.

1877: Chief Crazy Horse surrendered to United States troops in Nebraska.

1889: The Universal Exposition, in Paris, with the recently completed Eiffel Tower, opened.

1910: George V became King of the United Kingdom upon the death of his father, Edward VII.

1937: Thirty-six people were killed when the German zeppelin Hindenburg was destroyed by fire whilst attempting to moor at Lakehurst, New Jersey.

1942: American forces on Corregidor surrendered to the Japanese.

1954: Roger Bannister became the first person to run the mile in under four minutes.

1968: Near La Chu, Vietnam, Specialist Fourth Class Robert M Patterson, 17th Cavalry, was a fire team leader during an assault against North Vietnamese Army troops in a heavily fortified position. When the leading squad of his platoon was pinned down by fire from two enemy bunkers, Patterson and the other two members of his fire team moved forward to destroy the bunkers. One bunker led to another, and by the time he was finished Patterson had single-handedly destroyed five enemy bunkers, killed eight enemy soldiers and captured seven weapons. Sp4c Patterson was awarded the Medal of Honor.

1986: US submarines Archerfish (SSN 678), Ray (SSN 653) and Hawkbill (SSN 666) rendezvoused at the North Pole.

1994: The Channel Tunnel was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II and President François Mitterrand.

In addition to King Edward VII (1841-1910), Sir James Tyrrell (c. 1450-1502), Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt (1769–1859), Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), Bret Harte (1836–1902), L Frank Baum (1856–1919), Maria Montessori (1870–1952), Marlene Dietrich (1901–1992) and Lillian Asplund (1906–2006) died on this date.

And happy birthday to André Masséna (1758–1817), Maximilien de Robespierre (1758-1794), Robert Peary (1856–1920), Rudolph Valentino (1895–1926), Toots Shor (1903–1977), Orson Welles (1915–1985) and Tony Blair (1953-TBD)

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