Confederate General Jubal Early occupies Hagerstown

On this day, Confederate General Jubal Early’s troops cross the Potomac River and capture Hagerstown, Maryland. Early had sought to threaten Washington, D.C., and thereby relieve pressure on General Robert E. Lee, who was fighting to keep Ulysses S. Grant out of Richmond, Virginia.

During the brutal six-week campaign against Grant in June 1864, Lee was under tremendous pressure. On June 12, he dispatched Jubal Early to Lynchburg, in western Virginia, to hold off a Union attack by General David Hunter. After defeating Hunter, Early was ordered to head down the Shenandoah Valley to the Potomac. Lee hoped that this threat to Washington would force Grant to return part of his army to the capital and protect it from an embarrassing capture by the Confederates. Lee was inspired by a similar Shenandoah campaign by Stonewall Jackson in 1862, in which Jackson occupied three Federal armies in a brilliant military show. However, the circumstances were different in 1864. Grant now had plenty of men, and Lee was stretched thin around the Richmond-Petersburg perimeter.

Still, the first part of Early’s raid was successful. His force crossed the Potomac on July 6, and a cavalry brigade under John McCausland rode into Hagerstown. Early instructed McCausland to demand $200,000 from the city officials of Hagerstown for damages caused by Hunter in the Shenandoah Valley, but McCausland felt the amount was too large, so he asked for $20,000. After receiving the money, Early’s army turned southeast toward Washington. The Confederates reached the outskirts of the city before being turned away by troops from Grant’s army.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


Satchmo dies

Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, dies in New York City at the age of 69. A world-renowned jazz trumpeter and vocalist, he pioneered jazz improvisation and the style known as swing. Louis Daniel Armstrong was born in New more

The Hartford Circus Fire

In Hartford, Connecticut, a fire breaks out under the big top of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus, killing 167 people and injuring 682. Two-thirds of those who perished were children. The cause of the fire was unknown, but it spread at incredible speed, racing up the more

Women inducted into U.S. Naval Academy

In Annapolis, Maryland, the United States Naval Academy admits women for the first time in its history with the induction of 81 female midshipmen. In May 1980, Elizabeth Anne Rowe became the first woman member of the class to graduate. Four years later, Kristine Holderied became more

Frank family takes refuge

In Nazi-occupied Holland, 13-year-old Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her family are forced to take refuge in a secret sealed-off area of an Amsterdam warehouse. The day before, Anne’s older sister, Margot, had received a call-up notice to be deported to a Nazi “work camp.” Born in more

Althea Gibson wins Wimbledon

On this day in 1957, Althea Gibson defeats Darlene Hard 6-3, 6-2 to become the first black player ever to win Wimbledon. Gibson was born in South Carolina on August 25, 1927, and raised in Harlem. She started playing tennis in 1942 at the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club under the more

George Walker Bush is born

On this day in 1946, George Walker Bush, the son of future President George Herbert Walker Bush, is born in New Haven, Connecticut. When he was two years old, Bush’s parents moved to Texas. where the elder Bush worked in the oil industry. Bush was nicknamed “Dubya” for his middle more

Explosion on North Sea oil rig

On this day in 1988, an explosion rips through an oil rig in the North Sea, killing 167 workers. It was the worst offshore oil-rig disaster in history. The Piper Alpha rig, which was the largest in the North Sea, was owned by Occidental Oil and had approximately 225 workers more

George “Bugs” Moran is arrested

FBI agents arrest George “Bugs” Moran, along with fellow crooks Virgil Summers and Albert Fouts, in Kentucky. Once one of the biggest organized crime figures in America, Moran had been reduced to small bank robberies by this time. He died in prison 11 years later. Bugs Moran’s more