On This Day … 05 August


  • AD 25 – Guangwu claims the throne as Emperor of China, restoring the Han dynasty after the collapse of the short-lived Xin dynasty.
  • 135 – Roman armies enter Betar, slaughtering thousands and ending the bar Kokhba revolt.
  • 642 – Battle of Maserfield: Penda of Mercia defeats and kills Oswald of Northumbria.
  • 910 – The last major Danish army to raid England for nearly a century is defeated at the Battle of Tettenhall by the allied forces of Mercia and Wessex, led by King Edward the Elder and Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians.
  • 939 – The Battle of Alhandic is fought between Ramiro II of León and Abd-ar-Rahman III at Zamora in the context of the Spanish Reconquista. The battle resulted in a victory for the Emirate of Córdoba.
  • 1068 – Byzantine-Norman wars: Italo-Normans begin a nearly-three-year siege of Bari.
  • 1278 – Spanish Reconquista: the forces of the Kingdom of Castile initiate the ultimately futile Siege of Algeciras against the Emirate of Granada.
  • 1388 – The Battle of Otterburn, a border skirmish between the Scottish and the English in Northern England, is fought near Otterburn.
  • 1506 – The Grand Duchy of Lithuania defeats the Crimean Khanate in the Battle of Kletsk.
  • 1583 – Sir Humphrey Gilbert establishes the first English colony in North America, at what is now St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • 1620 – The Mayflower departs from Southampton, England, carrying would-be settlers, on its first attempt to reach North America; it is forced to dock in Dartmouth when its companion ship, the Speedwell, springs a leak.
  • 1689 – Beaver Wars: Fifteen hundred Iroquois attack Lachine in New France.
  • 1716 – Austro-Turkish War (1716-1718): One-fifth of a Turkish army and the Grand Vizier are killed in the Battle of Petrovaradin.
  • 1763 – Pontiac’s War: Battle of Bushy Run: British forces led by Henry Bouquet defeat Chief Pontiac’s Indians at Bushy Run.
  • 1781 – The Battle of Dogger Bank takes place.
  • 1796 – The Battle of Castiglione in Napoleon’s first Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars.
  • 1816 – The British Admiralty dismisses Francis Ronalds’s new invention of the first working electric telegraph as “wholly unnecessary”, preferring to continue using the semaphore.
  • 1824 – Greek War of Independence: Konstantinos Kanaris leads a Greek fleet to victory against Ottoman and Egyptian naval forces in the Battle of Samos.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: In order to help pay for the war effort, the United States government levies the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US$800; rescinded in 1872).
  • 1861 – The United States Army abolishes flogging.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: Battle of Baton Rouge: Along the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Confederate troops attempt to take the city, but are driven back by fire from Union gunboats.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of Mobile Bay begins at Mobile Bay near Mobile, Alabama, Admiral David Farragut leads a Union flotilla through Confederate defences and seals one of the last major Southern ports.
  • 1906 – Persian Constitutional Revolution: Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar, King of Iran, agrees to convert the government to a constitutional monarchy.
  • 1914 – World War I: The German minelayer SS Königin Luise lays a minefield about 40 miles (64 km) off the Thames Estuary (Lowestoft).
    • She is intercepted and sunk by the British light-cruiser HMS Amphion.
  • 1914 – World War I: The guns of Point Nepean fort at Port Phillip Heads in Victoria (Australia) fire across the bows of the Norddeutscher Lloyd steamer SS Pfalz which is attempting to leave the Port of Melbourne in ignorance of the declaration of war and she is detained; this is said to be the first Allied shot of the War.
  • 1914 – In Cleveland, Ohio, the first electric traffic light is installed.
  • 1916 – World War I: Battle of Romani: Allied forces, under the command of Archibald Murray, defeat an attacking Ottoman army under the command of Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein, securing the Suez Canal and beginning the Ottoman retreat from the Sinai Peninsula.
  • 1940 – World War II: The Soviet Union formally annexes Latvia.
  • 1944 – World War II: At least 1,104 Japanese POWs in Australia attempt to escape from a camp at Cowra, New South Wales; 545 temporarily succeed but are later either killed, commit suicide, or are recaptured.
  • 1944 – World War II: Polish insurgents liberate a German labour camp (Gęsiówka) in Warsaw, freeing 348 Jewish prisoners.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Nazis begin a week-long massacre of between 40,000 and 50,000 civilians and prisoners of war in Wola, Poland.
  • 1960 – Burkina Faso, then known as Upper Volta, becomes independent from France.
  • 1963 – Cold War: The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union sign the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
  • 1964 – Vietnam War: Operation Pierce Arrow: American aircraft from carriers USS Ticonderoga and USS Constellation bomb North Vietnam in retaliation for strikes against US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.
  • 1965 – The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 begins as Pakistani soldiers cross the Line of Control dressed as locals.
  • 1974 – Vietnam War: The US Congress places a $1 billion limit on military aid to South Vietnam.
  • 1979 – In Afghanistan, Maoists undertake the Bala Hissar uprising against the Leninist government.
  • 1995 – Yugoslav Wars: The city of Knin, Croatia, a significant Serb stronghold, is captured by Croatian forces during Operation Storm.
    • The date is celebrated in Croatia as Victory Day.
  • Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian defenders (Croatia).

People (Births)

  • 1749 – Thomas Lynch Jr., American commander and politician (d. 1779).
  • 1827 – Deodoro da Fonseca, Brazilian field marshal and politician, 1st President of Brazil (d. 1892).
  • 1929 – Don Matheson, American soldier, police officer, and actor (d. 2014).
  • 1930 – Neil Armstrong, American pilot, engineer, and astronaut (d. 2012).
  • 1935 – Peter Inge, Baron Inge, English field marshal.
  • 1935 – Roy Benavidez, American Master Sergeant and Medal of Honour Winner (d. 1998).
  • 1941 – Leonid Kizim, Ukrainian general, pilot, and astronaut (d. 2010).
  • 1975 – Josep Jufré, Spanish cyclist.
  • 1978 – Kim Gevaert, Belgian sprinter.
  • 1982 – Lolo Jones, American hurdler.
  • 1988 – Michael Jamieson, Scottish-English swimmer.
  • 1988 – Federica Pellegrini, Italian swimmer.
  • 2003 – Toni Shaw, British Paralympic swimmer.

People (Deaths)

  • 1610 – Alonso García de Ramón, Spanish soldier and politician, Royal Governor of Chile (b. 1552).
  • 1729 – Thomas Newcomen, English engineer, invented the eponymous Newcomen atmospheric engine (b. 1664).
  • 1799 – Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe, English admiral and politician (b. 1726).
  • 1916 – George Butterworth, British composer, killed at the Battle of the Somme (b. 1885).
  • 1980 – Harold L. Runnels, American soldier and politician (b. 1924).
  • 1998 – Otto Kretschmer, German commander (b. 1912).
  • 1998 – Todor Zhivkov, Bulgarian commander and politician, 36th Prime Minister of Bulgaria (b. 1911).
  • 2013 – Rob Wyda, American commander and judge (b. 1959).
  • 2014 – Harold J. Greene, American general (b. 1962).

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