On This Day … 16 March


  • 934 – Meng Zhixiang declares himself emperor and establishes Later Shu as a new state independent of Later Tang.
  • 1190 – Massacre of Jews at Clifford’s Tower, York.
  • 1244 – Over 200 Cathars who refuse to recant are burned to death after the Fall of Montségur.
  • 1322 – The Battle of Boroughbridge takes place in the Despenser Wars.
  • 1521 – Ferdinand Magellan reaches the island of Homonhon in the Philippines.
  • 1621 – Samoset, a Mohegan, visited the settlers of Plymouth Colony and greets them, “Welcome, Englishmen! My name is Samoset.”
  • 1660 – The Long Parliament of England is dissolved so as to prepare for the new Convention Parliament.
  • 1689 – The 23rd Regiment of Foot, or Royal Welch Fusiliers, is founded.
  • 1782 – American Revolutionary War: Spanish troops capture the British-held island of Roatán.
  • 1782 – Anglo-Spanish War (1779): Action of 16 March 1782.
  • 1792 – King Gustav III of Sweden is shot; he dies on March 29.
  • 1797 – French Revolutionary Wars: An Austrian column is defeated by the French in the Battle of Valvasone.
  • 1802 – The Army Corps of Engineers is established to found and operate the United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • 1812 – The Siege of Badajoz begins: British and Portuguese forces besiege and defeat the French garrison during the Peninsular War.
  • 1815 – Prince Willem proclaims himself King of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, the first constitutional monarch in the Netherlands.
  • 1818 – In the Second Battle of Cancha Rayada, Spanish forces defeated Chileans under José de San Martín.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: During the Red River Campaign, Union troops reach Alexandria, Louisiana.
  • 1865 – American Civil War: The Battle of Averasborough began as Confederate forces suffer irreplaceable casualties in the final months of the war.
  • 1898 – In Melbourne the representatives of five colonies adopted a constitution, which would become the basis of the Commonwealth of Australia.
  • 1916 – The 7th and 10th US cavalry regiments under John J. Pershing cross the US–Mexico border to join the hunt for Pancho Villa.
  • 1917 – World War I: A German auxiliary cruiser is sunk in the Action of 16 March 1917.
  • 1918 – Finnish Civil War: Battle of Länkipohja is infamous for its bloody aftermath as the Whites executed 70–100 capitulated Reds.
  • 1924 – In accordance with the Treaty of Rome, Fiume becomes annexed as part of Italy.
  • 1926 – History of Rocketry: Robert Goddard launches the first liquid-fuelled rocket, at Auburn, Massachusetts.
  • 1935 – Adolf Hitler orders Germany to rearm herself in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Conscription is reintroduced to form the Wehrmacht.
  • 1939 – From Prague Castle, Hitler proclaims Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate.
  • 1940 – First person killed (James Isbister) in a German bombing raid on the UK in World War II during a raid on Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.
  • 1945 – World War II: The Battle of Iwo Jima ended, but small pockets of Japanese resistance persisted.
  • 1945 – Ninety percent of Würzburg, Germany is destroyed in only 20 minutes by British bombers, resulting in around 5,000 deaths.
  • 1968 – Vietnam War: My Lai Massacre occurs; between 347 and 500 Vietnamese villagers (men, women, and children) are killed by American troops.
  • 1977 – Assassination of Kamal Jumblatt, the main leader of the anti-government forces in the Lebanese Civil War.
  • 1979 – Sino-Vietnamese War: The People’s Liberation Army crosses the border back into China, ends the war.
  • 1988 – Iran–Contra affair: Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and Vice Admiral John Poindexter are indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
  • 1988 – Halabja chemical attack: The Kurdish town of Halabja in Iraq is attacked with a mix of poison gas and nerve agents on the orders of Saddam Hussein, killing 5,000 people and injuring about 10,000 people.
  • 1988 – The Troubles: Ulster loyalist militant Michael Stone attacks a Provisional IRA funeral in Belfast with pistols and grenades. A PIRA volunteer and two civilians are killed, and more than 60 others are wounded.
  • 1995 – Mississippi formally ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment was officially ratified in 1865.
  • 2014 – Crimea votes in a controversial referendum to secede from Ukraine to join Russia.
  • Remembrance Day of the Latvian Legionnaires (Latvia).

People (Births)

  • 1590 – Ii Naotaka, Japanese daimyō (d. 1659).
  • 1670 – François de Franquetot de Coigny, French general (d. 1759).
  • 1753 – François Amédée Doppet, French general (d. 1799).
  • 1773 – Juan Ramón Balcarce, Argentinian general and politician, 6th Governor of Buenos Aires Province (d. 1836).
  • 1789 – Francis Rawdon Chesney, English general and explorer (d. 1872).
  • 1822 – John Pope, American general (d. 1892).
  • 1920 – John Addison, English-American soldier and composer (d. 1998).
  • 1932 – Walter Cunningham, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut.
  • 1941 – Robert Guéï, Ivorian soldier and politician, 3rd President of Côte d’Ivoire (d. 2002).

People (Deaths)

  • AD 37 – Tiberius, Roman emperor (b. 42 BC).
  • 455 – Valentinian III, Roman emperor (assassinated; b. 419).
  • 933 – Takin al-Khazari, Egyptian commander and politician, Abbasid Governor of Egypt.
  • 1322 – Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford, English general and politician, Lord High Constable of England (b. 1276).
  • 1410 – John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, French-English admiral and politician, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports (b. 1373).
  • 1679 – John Leverett, English general and politician, 19th Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (b. 1616).
  • 1930 – Miguel Primo de Rivera, Spanish general and politician, Prime Minister of Spain (b. 1870).
  • 1961 – Chen Geng, Chinese general and politician (b. 1903).
  • 2000 – Thomas Ferebee, American colonel and pilot (b. 1918).
  • 2003 – Ronald Ferguson, English captain, polo player, and manager (b. 1931).
  • 2012 – Donald E. Hillman, American colonel and pilot (b. 1918).

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