Year
1916

Seventh Battle of the Isonzo

On September 14, 1916, Italian troops during World War I launch a short, concentrated attack on Austro-Hungarian positions on the Italian Front, near the Isonzo River.

Italy’s entrance into the Great War on May 23, 1915, had opened up a new front stretching 600 kilometers—most of them mountainous—along Italy’s much-contested border with Austria-Hungary in the Trentino region. Upon declaring war, the relatively ill-equipped Italian army immediately advanced into the South Tyrol region and to the Isonzo River, where Austro-Hungarian troops met them with a stiff defense. The snowy and treacherous terrain made the region poorly suited for offensive operations, and after several quick Italian successes, combat settled into a stalemate.

Luigi Cadorna, the chief of staff of the Italian army, determined that his forces could most easily make territorial gains against the enemy in the region of the Isonzo, a 60-mile-long river running north to south just inside the Austro-Hungarian border with Italy (present-day Slovenia) and flanked on either side by mountains. The Italians launched their first offensive in the region, known as the First Battle of the Isonzo, in June 1915.

The Seventh Battle of the Isonzo, fought between September 14 and 17, 1916, attempted to repeat the successes of the sixth and most successful Italian offensive, fought one month earlier. In that battle, the Italians had forced the Austrian forces back some five kilometers before Cadorna called off the offensive, claiming success. Unfortunately for the Italians, the follow-up attack in September was less effective: though the Italians captured several mountain peaks, including the 7,723-foot Mount Cardinal in the Trentino, the Austrians managed to hold the line, and actual Italian advances were minimal, at a cost of heavy casualties.

The treacherous terrain surrounding the Isonzo River would see no fewer than 12 battles from June 1915 to November 1917; these battles, culminating in the disastrous Battle of Caporetto, or the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, cost the Italians some 300,000 casualties—fully half their casualty total during the entire war.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Scott captures Mexico City

During the Mexican-American War, U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott enter Mexico City and raise the American flag over the Hall of Montezuma, concluding a devastating advance that began with an amphibious landing at Vera Cruz six months earlier. The Mexican-American War ...read more

Napoleon enters Moscow

One week after winning a bloody victory over the Russian army at the Battle of Borodino, Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grande Armée enters the city of Moscow, only to find the population evacuated and the Russian army retreated again. Moscow was the goal of the invasion, but the deserted ...read more

American canonized as saint

Elizabeth Ann Seton is canonized by Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in Rome, becoming the first American-born Catholic saint. Born in New York City in 1774, Elizabeth Bayley was the daughter of an Episcopalian physician. She devoted much of her time to charity work with the poor and ...read more

Key pens Star-Spangled Banner

On this day in 1814, Francis Scott Key pens a poem which is later set to music and in 1931 becomes America’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The poem, originally titled “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” was written after Key witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded ...read more

Denny McLain becomes a 30-game winner

On this day in 1968, Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain wins his 30th game of the season, becoming the first 30-game winner in the major leagues since 1938. The Tigers scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to come from behind in a 5-4 decision over the Oakland A’s. McLain, ...read more

Millions flee from Hurricane Floyd

Millions of people evacuate their homes as Hurricane Floyd moves across the Atlantic Ocean on this day in 1999. Over the next several days, deaths are recorded from the Bahamas to New England due to the powerful storm. Floyd began as a tropical storm on September 7 and attained ...read more

A song about crime hits the charts

“I Shot the Sheriff” hits No. 1 on the music charts. While the song had been written by reggae legend Bob Marley the previous year, it was Eric Clapton’s version that ascended to the top of the charts. Crime and murder have been the subject of popular recorded music since the ...read more

Soviet probe reaches the moon

A Soviet rocket crashes into the moon’s surface, becoming the first man-made object sent from earth to reach the lunar surface. The event gave the Soviets a short-lived advantage in the “space race” and prompted even greater effort by the United States to develop its own space ...read more