On This Day … 13 May


  • 1568 – Battle of Langside: The forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, are defeated by a confederacy of Scottish Protestants under James Stewart, Earl of Moray, her half-brother.
  • 1619 – Dutch statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt is executed in The Hague after being convicted of treason.
  • 1779 – War of the Bavarian Succession: Russian and French mediators at the Congress of Teschen negotiate an end to the war.
    • In the agreement Austria receives the part of its territory that was taken from it (the Innviertel).
  • 1780 – The Cumberland Compact is signed by leaders of the settlers in the Cumberland River area of what would become the US state of Tennessee, providing for democratic government and a formal system of justice.
  • 1787 – Captain Arthur Phillip leaves Portsmouth, England, with eleven ships full of convicts (the “First Fleet”) to establish a penal colony in Australia.
  • 1804 – Forces sent by Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli to retake Derna from the Americans attack the city.
  • 1830 – Ecuador gains its independence from Gran Colombia.
  • 1846 – Mexican-American War: The United States declares war on the Federal Republic of Mexico following a dispute over the American annexation of the Republic of Texas and a Mexican military incursion.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom issues a “proclamation of neutrality” which recognises the Confederacy as having belligerent rights.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: The USS Planter, a steamer and gunship, steals through Confederate lines and is passed to the Union, by a southern slave, Robert Smalls, who later was officially appointed as captain, becoming the first black man to command a United States ship.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Resaca: The battle begins with Union General Sherman fighting toward Atlanta.
  • 1865 – American Civil War: Battle of Palmito Ranch: In far south Texas, the last land battle of the Civil War ends with a Confederate victory.
  • 1880 – In Menlo Park, New Jersey, Thomas Edison performs the first test of his electric railway.
  • 1912 – The Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the Royal Air Force, is established in the United Kingdom.
  • 1940 – World War II: Germany’s conquest of France begins as the German army crosses the Meuse. Winston Churchill makes his “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech to the House of Commons.
  • 1940 – Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands flees her country to Great Britain after the German invasion.
    • Princess Juliana takes her children to Canada for their safety.
  • 1941 – World War II: Yugoslav royal colonel Dragoljub Mihailović starts fighting against German occupation troops, beginning the Serbian resistance.
  • 1943 – World War II: Operations Vulcan and Strike force the surrender of the last Axis troops in Tunisia.
  • 1948 – Arab-Israeli War: The Kfar Etzion massacre is committed by Arab irregulars, the day before the declaration of independence of the state of Israel on 14 May.
  • 1954 – The anti-National Service Riots, by Chinese middle school students in Singapore, take place.
  • 1958 – May 1958 crisis: A group of French military officers lead a coup in Algiers demanding that a government of national unity be formed with Charles de Gaulle at its head in order to defend French control of Algeria.
  • 1971 – Over 900 unarmed Bengali Hindus are murdered in the Demra massacre.
  • 1972 – The Troubles: A car bombing outside a crowded pub in Belfast sparks a two-day gun battle involving the Provisional IRA, Ulster Volunteer Force and British Army.
    • Seven people are killed and over 66 injured.
  • 1998 – India carries out two nuclear weapon tests at Pokhran, following the three conducted on 11 May.
    • The United States and Japan impose economic sanctions on India.
  • 2005 – Andijan uprising, Uzbekistan; Troops open fire on crowds of protestors after a prison break; at least 187 people were killed according to official estimates.

People (Births)

  • 1753 – Lazare Carnot, French general, mathematician, and politician, French Minister of the Interior (d. 1823).
  • 1830 – Zebulon Baird Vance, American colonel, lawyer, and politician, 37th Governor of North Carolina (d. 1894).
  • 1881 – Joe Forshaw, American runner (d. 1964).
  • 1884 – Oskar Rosenfeld, Jewish-Austrian writer and Holocaust victim (d.1944).
  • 1912 – Judah Nadich, American colonel and rabbi (d. 2007).
  • 1929 – John Galvin, American general (d. 2015).
  • 1940 – Kōkichi Tsuburaya, Japanese runner (d. 1968).
  • 1970 – Robert Maćkowiak, Polish sprinter.
  • 1972 – Stefaan Maene, Belgian swimmer.
  • 1972 – Pieta van Dishoeck, Dutch rower.
  • 1983 – Johnny Hoogerland, Dutch cyclist.
  • 1984 – Dawn Harper, American hurdler.
  • 1984 – Caroline Rotich, Kenyan runner.
  • 1986 – Nino Schurter, Swiss cyclist.
  • 1987 – Marianne Vos, Dutch cyclist.

People (Deaths)

  • 1573 – Takeda Shingen, Japanese daimyō (b. 1521).
  • 1807 – Eliphalet Dyer, American colonel, lawyer, and politician (b. 1721).
  • 1929 – Arthur Scherbius, German electrical engineer, invented the Enigma machine (b. 1878).
  • 1974 – Arthur J. Burks, American colonel and author (b. 1898).
  • 2014 – J. F. Coleman, American soldier and pilot (b. 1918).
  • 2015 – Nina Otkalenko, Russian runner (b. 1928).
  • 2015 – Gainan Saidkhuzhin, Russian cyclist (b. 1937).

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