The First Foot Guards
We are a Revolutionary War
reenactment group based in Boston MA,
accurately portraying the royal household regiment that is now known as
The Grenadier Guards
This Date in History: October
Graeme Marsden's collection
of significant dates in American and European history,
organized by Month and by Day.
Most references are from the 18th century, and there is a preference for military occurrences, especially those of The First Foot Guards.
Check out 'What happened on this day?'
October 331 BC
In his first significant victory, Alexander the Great decisively defeated King Darius III's Persian army at Gaugamela (Arbela), in a tactical masterstroke that left him master of the Persian Empire.
1 October 1163
Archbishop Becket refused King Henry's demand for the punishment of clergy in secular courts. This was one of the facts that ultimately led to the martyrdom of Becket.
1 October 1792
Introduction of Money Orders in Britain
1 October 1795
Belgium became part of the French Republic.
The beer-loving people of Munich got together to celebrate the wedding of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig. The next year they also celebrated, and the year after that... until today. The celebration is now known as Oktoberfest, and is actually held in late September/early October. Revelry lasts 16 days always ending on the first Sunday in October.
2 October 1535
Having landed in Quebec a month ago, Jacques Cartier reached a settlement, which he named Montreal.
2 October 1780
After a meeting with Benedict Arnold, British Major John Andre was caught behind the lines in Tappan NY by a group of militiamen commanded by John Paulding. He was in civilian clothes with a pass from Arnold, and the plans to West Point were found in his boot. Arnold heard of Andre's capture and fled. Major John Andre was hanged 2 October 2 1780. In 1821 Andre's body was exhumed and reburied in Heroes' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
The hanging of Andre was considered a sad event by both sides. Andre was treated in a gentlemanly fashion, but it was considered a military necessity to hang him, since he clearly was a spy.
"When things were ready, Andre stepped into a wagon and, after he was fairly under the gallows, he took from his pocket two white handkerchiefs, with one of which the marshal pinioned Andre's arms, and the other Arnold hoodwinked his own eyes and put the noose of the rope around his own neck. After this, Colonel Scammell told Andre he might speak to the spectators, at which Andre raised the handkerchief from his eyes and said, 'Bear me witness that I meet my fate like a brave man.' The wagon was immediately moved from under him and he quickly expired.
"His body was placed in a coffin, dressed in his royal regimentals, and buried at the foot of the gallows."
Today you can visit his large monument in Tarrytown.
An Army under Union General Joseph Hooker arrived in Bridgeport, Alabama to support the Union forces at Chattanooga. 'Fighting Joe' Hooker is commemorated with an equestrian statue in front of the Massachusetts state house. It is this General after whom 'Hooker's ladies' were named: later simply referred to as 'hookers'.
2 October 1870
The Papal States voted in favor of union with Italy. The capital was moved from Florence to Rome.
4 October 1636
The General Court of the Plymouth Colony instituted a legal code, the first composed in North America. It guaranteed citizens a trial by jury and stipulated that all laws were to be made with the consent of the freemen of the colony.
4 October 1777
At Germantown PA, General Sir William Howe repelled George Washington's last attempt to retake Philadelphia, compelling Washington to spend the winter at Valley Forge. In an attempt to push the invading British out of Philadelphia, Washington attacked their camp at Germantown. What could have been an American victory quickly turned sour as an impending fog created confusion among the men. Nevertheless, news of the American near-victory at Germantown, against the best-trained men of the British army, strengthened the American cause.
4 October 1795
General Napoleon Bonaparte led the rout of counterrevolutionaries in the streets of Paris, beginning his rise to power.
5 October 1796
Spain declared war on Britain, during the Revolutionary War.
5 October 1762
The British fleet bombarded and captured Spanish-held Manila in the Philippines.
5 October 1795 The day after he routed counterrevolutionaries in Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte accepted their formal surrender.
5 October 1813
US victory at the Battle of the Thames, in Ontario, made the Detroit frontier safe.
6 October 1769
English naval explorer Captain James Cook, aboard the Endeavour, landed in New Zealand.
War against France 1793-1802
Action at Beverwyck
In memory of the officer who died in battle:
Colonel Augustus Maitland, First Foot Guards
7 October 1571
The Battle of Lepanto, between Christian allied naval forces and the Ottoman Turks attempting to capture Cyprus from the Venetians, took place. This was the last major battle between oar-powered galleys, and was the high point of Ottoman influence.
7 October 1777
The Battle at
Freeman's Farm, near Saratoga NY
The second battle of Saratoga was the first decisive American victory of the war. Burgoyne's entire army was routed, surrendering over 5,700 men to General Gates on October 17th. This turned the tide of the war to the Americans' advantage, and played a vital part in convincing the French to subsequently support the rebel army
7 October 1780
The Battle of
King's Mountain SC
A bloody fight erupted between patriot and loyalist Americans as the British prepared to invade North Carolina. A near massacre ensued as the patriots emerge victorious. They slaughtered over 150 Tories, most unarmed, many holding white handkerchiefs, trying to surrender. The Battle of King's Mountain was the first victory for the Continentals in the South. Major Ferguson, originator of the breech-loading rifle, was killed.
7 October 1806
The first carbon paper was patented by its English inventor, Ralph Wedgwood
7 October 1849
Author Edgar Allan Poe died in Baltimore MD at age 40. Poe was born in Boston, the child of two actors. He served in the army in Boston, being stationed at Fort Independence in South Boston.
9 October 1635
Religious dissident Roger Williams was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He became a founder of Rhode Island.
9 October 1760
Austrian and Russian troops enter Berlin and begin burning structures and looting.
9 October 1701
The Collegiate School of Connecticut - later Yale University - was chartered.
9 October 1776
A group of Spanish missionaries settled in present-day San Francisco.
9 October 1779
The first Luddite riots, against the introduction of machinery for spinning cotton, began in Manchester, England. Although the Luddites can be portrayed as reactionaries against progress, they were also resisting the enormous social upheaval as weavers were forced by economic conditions from being their own masters into becoming factory workers totally under the control of the mill owners. This indeed was a radical move from what was basically a barter economy to a cash economy; one in which the concept of time and timekeeping became important to the masses of the population.
A note for reenactors: cotton was expensive until the invention of the cotton gin, and then mechanized cotton spinning and weaving. By the early 1800s, cotton fabrics became much more common and affordable.
The Franks, under Charles Martel, defeated the Saracens at the Battle of Tours, halting for some centuries the Muslim invasion of Europe. The Mussulman ruler Abd el-Rahman was killed in this conflict.
10 October 1549
Edward Seymour, the Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of
England, was imprisoned. Although Somerset successfully put down two
peasant rebellions and managed to restore order, many nobles serving
young King Edward VI blamed Seymour for being ineffective, arrogant and too
popular with the common people. He was arrested and sent to the Tower of
London. With no firm charge placed against him he was released the
following February. His enemy, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick
feared Somerset's return to power and managed to have him charged with
treason. In October 1551 he was executed on Tower Hill. According to
witnesses he showed no fear, saying at the end that he was glad to have served England.
10 October 1789
In Versailles, Joseph Guillotin stated that the most humane way of carrying out a death sentence is decapitation by a single blow of a blade. Though not an original idea (it had been employed previously in Edinburgh) the instrument was built and used to great effect during the Revolution.
10 October 1794
Russian General Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov crushed the rebel Polish army at Maciejowice, Poland.
10 October 1845
The US Naval Academy was founded at Annapolis MD.
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal was completed and opened for business along its entire 185 mile length from Washington DC to Cumberland MD. Sections of the canal had opened for navigation as they were completed.
Before the C&O Canal was built, there were many attempts to improve transportation along the Potomac River. The Potomac was the only river on the East Coast to bisect the Appalachian mountain barrier, and was considered the best route for Western trade.
Another project begun before the C&O Canal was the Potomac Company canal project. In 1772, George Washington founded the Potomac Company and proposed the construction of skirting canals along the Potomac to bypass the river's worst obstacles to transportation. Washington finally received the support of both Virginia and Maryland, and as the first president of the Potomac Company, he oversaw the building of skirting canals, locks, and channels on the Potomac River. The project was completed in 1802, but Washington died in 1799, never seeing his foresighted project completed.
10 October 1886
The dinner jacket was first worn in New York by its creator at the Autumn Ball at Tuxedo Park Country Club NY, after which it was named.
10 October 1911
Revolutionaries under Sun Yat-sen overthrew China's Manchu dynasty.
Pope Leo X conferred the title of 'Defender of the Faith' (Fidei Defensor) on England's Henry VIII for his book supporting Catholic principles. He was later to regret this act, as Henry later embraced The Reformation, founded the Episcopal Church, and dissolved the monasteries (appropriating their wealth to himself).
11 October 1689
Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, assumed control of the government.
11 October 1727
King George II of England was crowned. He was later to be succeeded to the throne by his grandson, King George III.
11 October 1776
The Battle of Valcour Island, Lake Champlain - Canada
General Burgoyne's plan to connect Carleton's Canadian army with Howe's New York army was fouled by Benedict Arnold. His naval standoff at Valcour Island, though an American defeat, fatally delayed the British campaign.
11 October 1779
Polish nobleman Casimir Pulaski was killed while fighting heroically for American independence during the Revolutionary War Battle of Savannah GA.
11 October 1795
In gratitude for putting down a rebellion in the streets of Paris, France's National Convention appointed Napoleon Bonaparte second in command of the Army of the Interior.
11 October 1811
The first steam-powered ferryboat in America, the "Juliana," was put into operation between New York City and Hoboken NJ.
11 October 1899
The Boer republics of Transvaal and Orange River Free State in South Africa declared war on Great Britain on this day. The Boers, descendants of the original Dutch settlers, were alarmed at British aggression and formed an alliance. After negotiations failed they declared war. With a small army and resourceful commanders they took the offensive, and won several stunning victories. However, Britain soon had an army of 350,000 in the field that overwhelmed the Boer forces of about 40,000. Within a year they were defeated and England annexed both republics. This was the last conflict in which the Crown Forces wore red in combat. It was shown to be a totally unsuitable color for this kind of partially guerilla warfare.
National Army Museum on the Anglo-Boer War (with pictures).Offsite link.
12 October 1492
Columbus sighted his first land in discovering the New World, calling it San Salvador.
12 October 1609
The song "Three Blind Mice" was published in London, and is believed to be the earliest printed secular song.
12 October 1702
At the very start of the War of the Spanish Succession (Queen Anne's war) Admiral Sir George Rooke in command of an Anglo-Dutch fleet defeated the French fleet off Vigo (Spain). He went on to capture more Spanish and French ships in the harbor, taking back to England a fortune in Spanish silver. Rooke continued to even greater glories, capturing Gibraltar in 1704, but losing his job to political wrangling.
12 October 1722
Shah Sultan Husayn surrendered the Persian capital of Isfahan to Afghan rebels after a seven-month siege.
12 October 1899
The Anglo-Boer War began.
13 October 1307
On the orders of Philip IV ('Philip the Fair') of France, the arrest of the Knights Templar on trumped-up charges of heresy took place across France. This was the original 'Friday the Thirteenth'. Philip confiscated the wealth of the French Templars, which was greater than his own.
13 October 1660
I went out to Charing Cross, to see Major-General Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition.
- Samuel Pepys, Diary, 13 October 1660.
At the Restoration
of the monarchy, vengeance was wreaked on commanders of Parliamentary forces.
13 October 1792
President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the White House in a Masonic ceremony.
13 October 1884
Greenwich, London, was adopted as the universal time meridian of longitude from which standard times throughout the world are calculated.
14 October 1066
The Battle of Hastings was fought on Senlac Hill, where King Harold was slain as William the Conqueror's troops routed the English army. William became the first Norman king of England.
15 October 1529
Ottoman armies under Suleiman ended their siege of Vienna and headed back to Belgrade.
15 October 1582
The Gregorian calendar was adopted in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France; 5 October became 15 October.
15 October 1783
Francois Pilatre de Rozier made the first manned flight in a hot air balloon. The first flight was let out to 82 feet, but over the next few days the altitude increased up to 6,500 feet.
15 October 1813
During the land defeat of the British on the Thames River in Canada, the Indian chief Tecumseh, then a brigadier general with the British Army, was killed.
16 October 1555
The Protestant martyrs Bishop Hugh Latimer and Bishop Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake for heresy in England, under 'Bloody Mary' (Queen Mary I). In the following year, Archbishop Cranmer was similarly put to death.
16 October 1793
During the French Revolution, Queen Marie Antoinette was beheaded.
16 October 1815
Napoleon was exiled to the Atlantic island of St Helena.
16 October 1701
Yale University was founded as The Collegiate School of Kilingworth CT by Congregationalists who considered Harvard too liberal.
16-19 October 1813
One of the most crucial conflicts of the Napoleonic Wars was the huge battle that took place at Leipzig, which became known as the Battle of Nations because of its size and the sheer numbers of troops that took part.
The army of France was set to take on those of Sweden, Russia, Austria and Prussia - in all some 200,000 Frenchmen and allies, against almost 400,000 enemy troops. The number of cannons involved was also astounding, with Napoleon Bonaparte having 700 at his disposal and the Allies up to 1500.
Aside from the numbers against him, Bonaparte was also faced with the fact that the enemy armies were approaching from different directions, forcing him to spread his forces. It was only because of the heroic French defense that Napoleon escaped total annihilation.
16 October 1846
Ether was first administered in public at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston by Dr. William Thomas Green Morton during an operation performed by Dr. John Collins Warren.
A monument for Morton was built in the Public Garden, but during its construction it was discovered (as with many inventions) to perhaps have been employed before (by a Connecticut dentist). The monument, which can be visited today, was dedicated to Anesthesia.
Wit Oliver Wendell Holmes remarked that is was therefore "a monument to either, or ether."
Siege and Capture of Sevastopol 1854-5
In memory of the officers who died in battle:
Surgeon-Major Francis Cornelius Huthwaite, Grenadier or First Foot Guards,
6 September 1854
Captain Albert Evelyn Rowley, Grenadier or First Foot Guards,
16 October 1854
Col. the Hon. Francis Grosvenor Hood, Grenadier or First Foot Guards,
18 October 1854
Lieut. Francis Byam Davies, Grenadier or First Foot Guards,
10 November 1854
16 October 1859
Abolitionist John Brown, with 21 men, seized the US Armory at Harper's Ferry VA. US Marines captured the raiders, killing several. John Brown was later hanged in Virginia for treason.
English forces under Edward I (The Hammer of the Scots) defeated the Scots under David II during the Battle of Neville's Cross, Scotland.
17 October 1529
Henry VIII of England stripped Thomas Wolsey of his office for failing to secure an annulment of his marriage.
17 October 1651
England's Charles II, defeated by Cromwell at Worcester, fled to France, destitute and friendless.
17 October 1691
Maine and Plymouth were incorporated into Massachusetts.
17 October 1777
British commander General Burgoyne surrendered 5000 men to General Horatio Gates at Saratoga, a victory for the American colonists.
17 October 1806
Napoleon Bonaparte arrived at the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he had been banished by the Allies.
18 October 1648
The "Shoemakers of Boston" was the first labor organization in what would become the United States. It was authorized by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
18 October 1685
Edict of Nantes was lifted by King Louis XIV. The edict, signed at Nantes by King Henry IV in 1598, gave the Huguenots religious liberty, civil rights and security. By revoking the Edict of Nantes, Louis XIV abrogated their religious liberties and their protection. It set the scene for the emigration of French Protestants. This industrious group of Frenchmen resettled in the Low Countries, England and New England. They were not allowed into New France.
Notable Boston Huguenot families include Faneuil (Peter Faneuil was a rich shipowner who built Faneuil Hall), Beaudouin/Bowdoin (James Bowdoin had the college named for him) and Rivoire/Revere.
18 October 1767
The boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania, the Mason-Dixon line, was agreed upon.
19 October 1781
The Americans and French withdrew from their siege of Savannah, which was held by the Redcoats and Loyalists. After a bloody battle, the Allies realized that Savannah could not be taken. The French fleet had to withdraw in order to protect its supply lines to the West Indies.
French Admiral d'Estaing bravely led the troops, and was wounded twice, being almost left for dead. Brigadier General Kazimierz Pulaski, leading the rebel cavalry, was killed. Also present at the struggle were Major Pierce Charles l'Enfant (future architect of Washington), Francis Marion (The Swamp Fox, leading Continentals of the 2nd Carolina), and the stolid commander of American forces, General Benjamin Lincoln of Hingham. The British forces were led by General Augustine Prevost, 'Old Bullet Head'. Prevost had been wounded in fighting at Fontenoy in 1745, and in the capture of Quebec in 1759 had received a bullet wound in the temple that gave rise to his sobriquet. In the final battle of the Savannah campaign, the British lost 18 killed to the allies 382. It was a bitter defeat from the Allies, who found that working together was difficult: Lincoln was careful and deliberate, d'Estaing was heroic and rash.
General Lincoln later (in 1780) had to surrender his entire army of 5400 at the siege of Charleston SC, but was released in time to accept the British surrender at Yorktown. Because Savannah remained secure in British hands the war continued to the north. Patriots did not reoccupy Savannah until the British withdrew in 1782.
England declared war on Spain over borderlines in Florida. The War of Jenkins' Ear between Spain and Britain was a naval and colonial extension of the war of Austrian Succession in Europe. The claim by a British merchant seaman named Robert Jenkins that Spanish officers had cut off his ear - later found to be the work of freebooting pirates, not Spaniards - gave the conflict its name.
19 October 1781
British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, giving up almost 8000 men and any chance of winning the Revolutionary War. Cornwallis had marched his army into the Virginia port town earlier that summer expecting to meet British ships sent from New York. The ships never arrived.
In early October, some 17,000 American and French troops led by Generals George Washington and Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau surrounded British-occupied Yorktown. Off the coast, French Admiral François de Grasse strategically positioned his naval fleet to control access to the town via the Chesapeake Bay and the York River.
The Franco-American siege exhausted the British army's supplies of food and ammunition. With no hope for escape, Cornwallis agreed to the terms of Washington's Articles of Capitulation, signing the document at Moore House on October 19. Hours after the surrender, the general's defeated troops marched out of Yorktown, supposedly to the tune "The World Turned Upside Down."
The surrender at Yorktown effectively ended the Revolutionary War. Lacking the financial resources to raise a new army, the British government appealed to the Americans for peace. Almost two years later, on 3 September 1783, the signing of the Treaty of Paris brought the war to an end.
19 October 1813
The Allies defeated Napoleon at the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig
20 October 1714
The coronation of King George I of Great Britain and Ireland took place. George was the first of the Hanoverian dynasty.
20 October 1818
Britain and the USA established the 49th parallel as the boundary between Canada and the USA.
20 October 1822
The British 'Sunday Times' was first published.
20 October 1827
The Battle of Navarino, off the coast of Greece, ended with the combined British, French, and Russian fleets completely destroying the Egyptian and Turkish fleets.
21 October 1797
The US Navy frigate "Constitution," also known as "Old Ironsides," was launched in Boston harbor, on the third attempt.
She was built at Edmond Hartt's Shipyard, in Boston for a cost of $302,718 (1797 dollars).
Length: 204 feet
(62.16 meters) (billet head to taffrail); 175 feet at waterline (53.32 meters).
Beam: 43.5 feet (13.25 meters).
Mast height: foremast, 198 feet (60.33 meters); mainmast, 220 feet (67.03 meters); mizzenmast, 172.5 feet (52.56 meters)
Crew: 450 including 55 Marines and 30 boys.
Armament: 32 24-pounder long guns; 20 32-pounder carronades; and two 24-pounder bow chasers.
21 October 1805
The British Admiral Lord Nelson defeated the Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. The battle was a turning point. By destroying the French fleet, Nelson removed the possibility of a French invasion of Britain, and deprived Napoleon of much of his means of resupplying his armies. Nelson, who had already lost one eye and his right arm in battle, was mortally wounded by a sharpshooter on a French vessel
After the battle
a common seaman of the Royal Sovereign wrote to his father:
Our dear Admiral Nelson is killed! So we have paid pretty sharply for licking 'em. I never set eyes on him, for which I am both sorry and glad; for, to be sure, I should like to have seen him - but then, all the men in our ship who have seen him are such soft toads, they have done nothing but blast their eyes and cry, ever since he was killed. God bless you! Chaps that fought like the devil, sit down and cry like a wench.
21 October 1917
Members of the First Division of the US Army training in Luneville, France, became the first Americans to see action on the front lines of World War One.
22 October 741
Charles Martel of Gaul died at Quiezy. Charles Martel had defeated the Spanish
Muslims at the battle of Tours (732-33) and began the military campaigns that
reestablished the Franks as the rulers of Gaul. His name 'Martel' translates
as 'the hammer' and refers to his repeated victories. Although he never assumed
the title of king, he divided the Frankish lands, like a king, between his sons
Pepin the Short and Carloman. Pepin ("The Short") became king of the
Franks, and was the father of Charlemagne (Charlemagne, in Latin Carolus Magnus,
translates to 'Charles the Great' or even 'Big Charlie'.)
22 October 1746
Princeton University was founded as the College of New Jersey. It was the result of a charter issued by John Hamilton, acting governor of the province, to the college's board of trustees, whose members were leaders in the Presbyterian Church. They organized the College to train students, "different sentiments in religion not withstanding," a policy that shaped the character of the school.
The initial site of the College was Elizabeth NJ where its first president, the Reverend Jonathan Dickinson, had his home and parish. Dickinson died a few months after taking office, and the Reverend Aaron Burr of Newark succeeded him. The students (six in the original graduating class) moved to Newark. As the College prospered, Philadelphia architect Robert Smith was commissioned to create a building for the College in the town of Princeton. In the fall of 1756, President Burr brought his students and their tutors to that Princeton building - Nassau Hall. The large stone structure housed the College for the next 50 years. The hall was bombarded in the Revolutionary War Battle of Princeton.
22 October 1777
The Battle of Fort Mercer NJ
To keep his supply lines to Philadelphia open, Howe launched a number of attacks on American forts on the Delaware River. A vastly superior Hessian force, outnumbering the Americans 5 to 1, attacked Fort Mercer but was routed after their officers were wounded by rebel fire. In the confusion which followed, nearly a third of the Hessian detachment was killed, wounded or captured.
22 October 1797
The first parachute jump was made by French balloonist, André-Jacques Garnerin from a balloon above the Parc Monceau, Paris. He landed safely from a height of about three thousand feet.
23 October 1642
The first major battle of the English Civil war took place at Edgehill near Banbury, between the royalists under Charles I and Prince Rupert, and the Parliamentarians under the Earl of Essex. The outcome of the battle was indecisive.
A tower built in 1760 still marks the location.
23 October 1694
American colonial forces led by adventurer Sir William Phips, failed in their attempt to seize Quebec.
Born the youngest of 26 children in what is today Kennebec, Massachusetts (now Maine), Phips became a carpenter and shipbuilder in Boston. He became interested in sunken treasure, and on his second hunt in 1687 he recovered £300,000 worth of Spanish gold off Haiti. His fortune made, he was knighted and became provost marshal general at Boston. He supported Increase Mather in the fight against Sir Edmund Andros for restoration of charter government in Massachusetts, ending in the overthrow of Andros in 1689.
In the French and Indian War Phips led the expedition that took Port Royal, but he later failed to take Quebec. He was made first royal governor of Massachusetts through the influence of Increase Mather and took office in 1692. In the great witchcraft mania, he appointed a commission to try those accused of witchcraft. However, when his own wife was accused of witchcraft, he ordered an end to the trials. Many disputes won him enemies, and in 1694 he was called to London to answer charges, but he died before hearings began.
23 October 1707
Following the Act of Union in 1707, the parliaments of England and Scotland were dissolved, and a combined parliament of Great Britain met. The flag was changed to the present-day 'union jack', and the monarch's coat of arms changed to reflect the new status.
23 October 1783
Virginia emancipated slaves who fought for independence during the Revolutionary War.
24 October 1648
The Treaty of Westphalia was signed, ending the Thirty Years' War in Europe.
24 October 1537
Jane Seymour, the third wife of England's King Henry the Eighth, died 12 days after giving birth to Prince Edward, later King Edward VI.
24 October 1755
A British expedition against French-held Fort Niagara ended in failure.
25 October 1400
Geoffrey Chaucer (author of 'The Canterbury Tales') was born in London. His name was of French origin (chausseur = shoemaker). He was the son of a prosperous wine merchant and deputy to the king's butler. In 1359-1360 Chaucer went to France with Edward III's army during the Hundred Years' War. He was captured in the Ardennes and returned to England after the treaty of Brétigny in 1360. Chaucer was so valued as a skilled professional soldier that his ransom, £16 (16 pounds), then a large sum, was paid by his friends and King Edward. In 1366 he married Philippa Roet, the sister of John of Gaunt's future wife, and one of Queen Philippa's ladies. Chaucer enjoyed Gaunt's patronage throughout his life. He was in the King's service, held a number of positions at court, and spent some time in Spain.
Between 1367 and 1378 Chaucer made several journeys abroad on diplomatic and commercial missions. It is possible that he met Giovanni Boccaccio or Petrarch in Italy, and the example of Dante may have given him the idea of writing in the common English rather than in the court French of the day. In 1374 he became a government official at the port of London, holding the post of Comptroller of the Customs. Chaucer died in London on 25 October 1400. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, in the part of the church that afterwards was called Poet's Corner. A monument was erected to him in 1555.
25 October 1415
The English army, led by King Henry V, defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt, on St Crispin's Day, during the Hundred Years' War. This triumph ranks alongside the rout of the Spanish Armada, the Battle of Trafalgar and the Battle of Britain.
The Hundred Years War, fought intermittently from 1337 to 1453, started over the Plantagenet kings' weak claim to the French throne, which they based on Edward II's marriage to Isabella, daughter of France's King Philip IV.
The most prominent and decisive of Henry's battles occurred at Agincourt, where the French army attempted to halt Henry's advance. After a hard rain the previous night, the morning of 25th October 1415 dawned wet and cold. Both armies were in a miserable state. Henry's small force had marched 270 miles since arriving in France and had already nearly exhausted itself in attacking and capturing the town of Harfleur. Food was running low and a number of men were sick with dysentery. It had rained almost continuously throughout their march.
The French were trying to cope with the soggy fields. Mud covered everything, and most of the soldiers had gotten little sleep the night before as they labored to keep their armor clean and dry. Military discipline began to break down even before the battle had begun, and the army had become completely disorganized.
The French had come to Agincourt with an overdose of confidence, sure of their ability to crush the small English army. Poor leadership completely negated their advantage in numbers and morale. The English had three great assets: their maneuverability, the anti-cavalry stakes they had planted, and most of all the formidable Welsh longbowmen who decimated the French, and led to a decisive victory.
25 October 1760
Britain's King George III succeeded his grandfather, George II.
He reigned until his death in 1820. His son George ruled the country as Prince Regent from 1811 until 1820 when he became king in his own right (as George IV).
25 October 1764
Abigail Smith married a young lawyer by the name of John Adams. Their union launched a vital 54-year partnership that took the couple from colonial Boston through the politics of revolution, to Paris and London and the world of international diplomacy, and finally to Washington DC, where they became the first presidential couple to occupy the White House. A talented commentator and chronicler of events with a broad knowledge of history, Abigail Adams left an important account of many of the events of the nation's founding in her letters. She and her husband corresponded regularly; first when he attended the Continental Congress in Philadelphia between 1774 and 1783, and again from 1789 to 1800, when she traveled between the family home in Braintree (now Quincy MA), and Philadelphia. John Adams served as the nation's first vice president before becoming its second president in 1797.
After the presidential term, the Adamses retired to their family home where they spent the next 17 years. In 1825, John Quincy Adams, the couple's eldest son, moved into the White House, succeeding James Monroe to serve as the nation's sixth president. You can tour the three Adams residences in Quincy, led by a knowledgeable guide from the National Park Service. The tour, which includes a trolley tour, will cost you all of $2.
25 October 1812
American Commodore Rodgers, with three frigates and a brig-sloop under his command, sailed from Boston upon his second cruise against British men-of-war and merchantmen. Rodgers' 44-gun frigate USS United States, sighted the British 38-gun frigate Macedonian, Captain John Carden, on 25 October. Finding that the British frigate was bearing down to the attack, the United States opened a fire from her long 24's, almost every shot of which struck either the hull or masts of the British man-of-war. As the Macedonian closed and hauled up to fire her broadside, the American frigate bore way a little, to retain the advantage of her superior skill in gunnery. Thus all the carronades on the Macedonian's engaged side were disabled, and much other damage and a heavy loss incurred, while the United States was comparatively unharmed.
Since the Macedonian
was almost beaten, the United States opened a rapid and destructive fire from
the whole of her broadside; receiving in return only the main-deck fire of her
opponent, which was too ill-directed to be of much effect.
While the British frigate lay in this defenseless condition, the American, in a comparatively perfect state was about to place herself in a raking position on Macedonian's bow. No alternative remained to Captain Carden, and the Macedonian struck her colors.
25 October 1839
Bradshaw's Railway Guide, the world's first railway timetable, was published in Manchester, England.
25 October 1854
The heroic and futile "Charge of the Light Brigade" took place during the Crimean War when a brigade of British light infantry was mistakenly ordered to charge down a narrow corridor in full view of the Russian artillery. "Into the valley of death rode the six hundred…"
26 October 1825
The Erie Canal, linking the Niagara River with the Hudson River, was opened to traffic.
27 October 1662
II sold Dunkirk to Louis XIV of France for 2.5 million livres.
A note on livres. In much of Europe before the French Revolution, monetary systems were based mostly upon the LSD system (In Latin: Libra, Solidus, Denarius). This translated in French to Livre, Sou, Denier; in English to Pound, Shilling, Penny. The Pound and Penny remain, as does the Italian Lira.
A note for reenactors, on English money in the late 1700s.
There were 4 farthings ("fourth-ings") to a penny, two halfpennies/halfpence (pronounced 'hay-pennies' and 'hay-pnce') to a penny. 12 pence to a shilling, and 20 shillings to a pound, and this 240 pennies to the pound. The guinea (much beloved by gentlemen) was worth one pound and one shilling. There were other intermediate coins.
27 October 1787
The first of the Federalist Papers, a series of essays calling for ratification of the United States Constitution, was published in a New York newspaper
28 October 1636
Harvard University, the first college in the USA, was founded. It was established by vote of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony, and was named for its first benefactor, John Harvard of Charlestown, a young minister who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the new institution.
28 October 1776
The Battle of Chatterton's
Hill, White Plains NY
Another American defeat, just north of New York City. This time the Americans inflicted more casualties than they received, and Washington began to appreciate the tactic of "fight, retreat, and fight again."
28 October 1793
Eli Whitney applied for a patent for his cotton gin (the patent was granted the following March). The invention transformed the cotton industry, since cleaning raw cotton became far easier. The industry burgeoned, bringing a need for more slaves to pick the cotton. Unfortunately for Whitney, the gin was easily replicated, and he gleaned little financial gain from his invention.
28 October 1886
The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France, was dedicated in New York Harbor by President Cleveland.
28 October 1919
Congress enacted the Volstead Act, which provided for enforcement of Prohibition. Even President Wilson was against this measure, but his veto was overridden.
29 October 1618
Sir Walter Raleigh, English navigator, courtier, and favorite of Elizabeth I, was beheaded at Whitehall for treason.
He met his downfall upon the accession (1603) of James I, who had been convinced by Raleigh's enemies that Raleigh was opposed to his succession. Many of Raleigh's offices and monopolies were taken away, and, on somewhat insufficient evidence, he was found guilty of intrigues with Spain against England and of participation in a plot to kill the king and enthrone Arabella Stuart. Saved from the block by a reprieve, Raleigh settled down in the Tower and devoted himself to literature and science. There he began his incomplete History of the World.
Raleigh was released in 1616 to make another voyage to the Orinoco in search of gold, but he was warned not to molest Spanish possessions or ships on pain of his life. Raleigh returned to England, where the Spanish ambassador demanded his punishment, and he was executed under the original sentence of treason passed many years before.
29 October 1682
The founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, landed at what is now Chester, Pennsylvania.
King Charles II, out of "regard to the memorie and meritts of his late father," (a notable English admiral) gave the younger Penn a huge tract of land and named it, in honor of the Admiral, "Pennsylvania," or Penn's Woods.
29 October 1787
Mozart's opera Don Giovanni was first performed, in Prague.
29 October 1813
The first steam-powered warship, The Demologos, was launched in New York City.
The design of the vessel was a total departure from previous practice in warship construction. Designer Robert Fulton's idea was to make his vessel invulnerable and so achieve the equivalent of a fleet at no greater cost than that of a frigate. He protected the propulsion by having twin hulls with the paddle wheel in the space between the hulls and protected by an upper deck with bulwarks and stanchions. This deck also sheltered the engine, which was in one hull, and the boiler, which was in the other. The hulls were double ended so as to obviate the necessity for putting about. To make her invulnerable to the attack of any gun her main or gun deck was protected by a belt of solid timber 4' 10" thick. The double hulls gave a steady gun platform for her armament that was to consist of thirty 32-pounders to fire red-hot shot. She had two columbiads in the bows each capable of firing a 100 lb. projectile below the water line. The keels were laid in the shipyard of Adam and Noah Browne on the East River 29 June 1814. In spite of shortage of materials owing to the British blockade, to a scarcity of skilled labor, and to depreciation in the paper currency, the vessel was built in little more than four months, and she was launched amid scenes of great popular enthusiasm.
As a result of falling through the ice, Fulton suffered complications, and died early in the morning of 23 February 1815, aged 50.
The Demologos was renamed The Fulton, but was never finally completed for service owing to the end of hostilities at the Treaty of Ghent (24 December 1814.) She was laid up in the Navy Yard at Brooklyn until 4 June1829, when an explosion occurred, resulting in her complete destruction and that of twenty-five men.
At the same time, Britain was building a steam sloop (HMS Congo) commencing in 1815 at Chatham. When the peace treaty was signed she was altered before completion into a sailing-vessel.
29 October 1831
English chemist and physicist, and electrical pioneer Michael Faraday demonstrated the first dynamo.
29 October 1901
Leon Czolgosz was electrocuted for the assassination of President McKinley. Czolgosz, an anarchist, shot McKinley on September 6 during a public reception at the Temple of Music in Buffalo NY. Despite early hopes of recovery, McKinley died September 14, in Buffalo.
30 October 1485
King Henry VII (Henry Tudor) was crowned on this day, and he established a bodyguard known as the Yeoman Warders of the Tower, later known as 'Beefeaters'. They are perhaps best known for their gorgeous scarlet and gold dress uniforms that date to 1552 and are worn on state occasions. They are usually seen at the Tower in the blue undress uniform granted to them by Queen Victoria in 1858.
The Yeomen Warders are armed with halberds. The Chief Warder carries a staff surmounted by a silver model of the White Tower, while his second-in-command, the Yeoman Gaoler, possesses a ceremonial axe.
30 October 1650
'Quakers', the more common name for the Society of Friends, came into being during a court case, at which George Fox, the founder, told the magistrate to 'quake and tremble at the word of God'.
30 October 1697
The Treaty of Ryswick ended the war between France and the Grand Alliance.
30 October 1735
The second president of the United States, John Adams, was born in Braintree MA (now Quincy).
30 October 1838
Oberlin Collegiate Institute in Ohio became the first college in the US to admit female students.
30 October 1899
Anglo-Boer War. Two battalions of British troops were cut off, surrounded and forced to surrender to General Petrus Joubert's Boers at Nicholson's Neck.
30 October 1905
The Czar of Russia issued the October Manifesto, granting civil liberties and elections in an attempt to avert the growing support for revolution.
30 October 1918
The Italians captured Vittorio Veneto and routed the Austro-Hungarian army. Vittorio Veneto is an Italian town in the foothills of the Alps.
31 October 1517
All Hallows Eve. Martin Luther nailed his theses on indulgences to the church door at Wittenberg, Germany. The event is generally regarded as start of the Reformation.
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