This Day In History

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  • “Swamp Fox” routs Loyalists while Gates’ men fall ill

    On August 15, 1780, American Lieutenant Colonel Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox,” and his irregular cavalry force of 250 rout a party of Loyalists commanded by Major Micajah Gainey at Port’s Ferry, South Carolina. Meanwhile, General Horatio Gates’ men consumed half-baked bread, which sickened them ...
  • King Macbeth is killed by Malcolm Canmore

    At the Battle of Lumphanan, King Macbeth of Scotland is slain by Malcolm Canmore, whose father, King Duncan I, was murdered by Macbeth 17 years earlier. Macbeth was a grandson of King Kenneth II and also had a claim to the throne through his wife, Gruoch, who was the granddaughter of Kenneth ...
  • Berlin Wall built

    Two days after sealing off free passage between East and West Berlin with barbed wire, East German authorities begin building a wall—the Berlin Wall—to permanently close off access to the West. For the next 28 years, the heavily fortified Berlin Wall stood as the most tangible symbol of the Cold ...
  • Panama Canal open to traffic

    The American-built waterway across the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is inaugurated with the passage of the U.S. vessel Ancon, a cargo and passenger ship. The rush of settlers to California and Oregon in the mid 19th century was the initial impetus of the U.S. ...
  • India and Pakistan win independence

    The Indian Independence Bill, which carves the independent nations of India and Pakistan out of the former Mogul Empire, comes into force at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947. The long-awaited agreement ended 200 years of British rule and was hailed by Indian independence leader Mohandas ...
  • Emperor Hirohito announces Japan’s surrender

    Emperor Hirohito broadcasts the news of Japan’s surrender to the Japanese people on August 15, 1945 (August 14 in the West because of time-zone differences).  Although Tokyo had already communicated to the Allies its acceptance of the surrender terms of the Potsdam Conference several days ...
  • Japan gives ultimatum to Germany

    On August 15, 1914, the government of Japan sends an ultimatum to Germany, demanding the removal of all German ships from Japanese and Chinese waters and the surrender of control of Tsingtao—the location of Germany’s largest overseas naval bases, located on China’s Shantung Peninsula—to Japan by ...
  • Heavy fighting erupts in and around the DMZ

    Heavy fighting intensifies in and around the DMZ, as South Vietnamese and U.S. troops engage a North Vietnamese battalion. In a seven and a half hour battle, 165 enemy troops were killed. At the same time, U.S. Marines attacked three strategic positions just south of the DMZ, killing 56 North ...
  • Woodstock festival opens in Bethel, New York

    On August 15, 1969, the Woodstock music festival opens on a patch of farmland in White Lake, a hamlet in the upstate New York town of Bethel. Promoters John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang originally envisioned the festival as a way to raise funds to build a recording ...
  • "Apocalypse Now" released in theaters

    Apocalypse Now, the acclaimed Vietnam War film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, opens in theaters around the United States on August 15, 1979. The film, inspired in part by Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella Heart of Darkness, among other sources, told the story of an Army captain (played by Martin ...