On This Day … 12 September


  • 490 BC – Battle of Marathon: The conventionally accepted date for the Battle of Marathon.
    • The Athenians and their Plataean allies defeat the first Persian invasion force of Greece.
  • 372 – Sixteen Kingdoms: Jin Xiaowudi, age 10, succeeds his father Jin Jianwendi as Emperor of the Eastern Jin dynasty.
  • 1185 – Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos brutally put to death in Constantinople.
  • 1213 – Albigensian Crusade: Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, defeats Peter II of Aragon at the Battle of Muret.
  • 1229 – Battle of Portopí: The Aragonese army under the command of James I of Aragon disembarks at Santa Ponça, Majorca, with the purpose of conquering the island.
  • 1309 – The First Siege of Gibraltar takes place in the context of the Spanish Reconquista pitting the forces of the Kingdom of Castile against the Emirate of Granada resulting in a Castilian victory.
  • 1609 – Henry Hudson begins his exploration of the Hudson River while aboard the Halve Maen.
  • 1634 – A gunpowder factory explodes in Valletta, Malta, killing 22 people and damaging several buildings.
  • 1683 – Austro-Ottoman War: Battle of Vienna: Several European armies join forces to defeat the Ottoman Empire.
  • 1762 – The Sultanate of Sulu ceded Balambangan Island to the British East India Company
  • 1814 – Battle of North Point: an American detachment halts the British land advance to Baltimore in the War of 1812.
  • 1847 – Mexican–American War: the Battle of Chapultepec begins.
  • 1848 – A new constitution marks the establishment of Switzerland as a federal state.
  • 1890 – Salisbury, Rhodesia, is founded.
  • 1897 – Tirah Campaign: In the Battle of Saragarhi, ten thousand Pashtun tribesmen suffer several hundred casualties while attacking 21 Sikh soldiers in British service.
  • 1915 – French soldiers rescue over 4,000 Armenian Genocide survivors stranded on Musa Dagh.
  • 1923 – Southern Rhodesia, today called Zimbabwe, is annexed by the United Kingdom.
  • 1933 – Leó Szilárd, waiting for a red light on Southampton Row in Bloomsbury, conceives the idea of the nuclear chain reaction.
  • 1938 – Adolf Hitler demands autonomy and self-determination for the Germans of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.
  • 1942 – World War II: RMS Laconia, carrying civilians, Allied soldiers and Italian POWs is torpedoed off the coast of West Africa and sinks with a heavy loss of life.
  • 1942 – World War II: First day of the Battle of Edson’s Ridge during the Guadalcanal Campaign.
    • US Marines protecting Henderson Field are attacked by Japanese troops.
  • 1943 – World War II: Benito Mussolini is rescued from house arrest by German commando forces led by Otto Skorzeny.
  • 1944 – World War II: The liberation of Yugoslavia from Axis occupation continues. Bajina Bašta in western Serbia is among the liberated cities.
  • 1945 – The People’s Republic of Korea is proclaimed, bringing an end to Japanese rule over Korea.
  • 1948 – Marshal Lin Biao, commander-in-chief of the Chinese communist Northeast Field Army, launched a massive offensive toward Jinzhou, Liaoshen Campaign has begun.
  • 1958 – Jack Kilby demonstrates the first working integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments.
  • 1961 – The African and Malagasy Union is founded.
  • 1970 – Dawson’s Field hijackings: Palestinian terrorists blow up three hijacked airliners in Jordan, continuing to hold the passengers hostage in various undisclosed locations in Amman.
  • 1974 – Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, ‘Messiah’ of the Rastafari movement, is deposed following a military coup by the Derg, ending a reign of 58 years.
  • 1980 – Military coup in Turkey.
  • 1983 – The USSR vetoes a United Nations Security Council Resolution deploring the Soviet destruction of Korean Air Lines Flight 007.
  • 1990 – The two German states and the Four Powers sign the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany in Moscow, paving the way for German reunification.
  • 1992 – Abimael Guzmán, leader of the Shining Path, is captured by Peruvian special forces; shortly thereafter the rest of Shining Path’s leadership fell as well.
  • 2003 – Iraq War: In Fallujah, US forces mistakenly shoot and kill eight Iraqi police officers.
  • 2005 – Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the Israeli disengagement from Gaza is completed, leaving some 2,530 homes demolished.
  • Commemoration of the mass hanging of the Saint Patrick’s Battalion (Mexico).
  • Defenders Day (Maryland, United States).
  • Saragarhi Day (Sikhism).

People (Births)

  • 1812 – Richard March Hoe, American engineer and businessman, invented the Rotary printing press (d. 1886).
  • 1818 – Richard Jordan Gatling, American inventor, invented the Gatling gun (d. 1903).
  • 1904 – István Horthy, Hungarian fighter pilot and deputy regent (d. 1942).
  • 1914 – Desmond Llewelyn, Welsh-English soldier and actor (d. 1999).
  • 1947 – Gerald Howarth, English soldier, pilot, and politician, Minister for International Security Strategy.
  • 1949 – Charles Burlingame, American captain and pilot (d. 2001).
  • 1959 – Scott Brown, American colonel and politician.

People (Deaths)

  • 1814 – Robert Ross, Irish general (b. 1766).
  • 1942 – Valentine Baker, Welsh co-founder of the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company (b. 1888).
  • 1945 – Hajime Sugiyama, Japanese field marshal and politician, 44th Japanese Minister of War (b. 1880).
  • 1956 – Sándor Festetics, Hungarian politician, Hungarian Minister of War (b. 1882).
  • 1962 – Spot Poles, American baseball player and soldier (b. 1887).
  • 1991 – Bruce Matthews, Canadian general and businessman (b. 1909).
  • 1996 – Ernesto Geisel, Brazilian general and politician, 29th President of Brazil (b. 1907).
  • 2015 – Aronda Nyakairima, Ugandan general and politician (b. 1959).

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