On this day 150 years ago, the Confederates intentionally destroyed their famed ironclad, the CSS Virginia. Better blown up than captured, they figured.
One year to the day after Stonewall Jackson died, J. E. B. Stuart charged his men at the Battle of Yellow Tavern and was mortally wounded. For the record, it was raining hard that day, although you’ll see no hint of it in the artwork associated with the battle. Added incentive to click on that last link: you can read the story of two gallants, Stuart and Colonel Henry Clay Pate, who had not spoken for months prior to the fight but who made up in the face of flying bullets, only to … well, read it yourself.
Finally, on an extra-Virginia note: on this day in 1812, the prime minister of Great Britain, Mr. Spencer Perceval, was gunned down in the House of Commons. Unlike us Americans, the Brits have no tradition of murdering their leaders; Perceval is it. The only one. The Public Domain Review tells the story:
As Mr. Perceval entered the lobby a number of people were gathered around in conversation as was the usual practice. Most turned to look at him as he came through the doorway. No-one noticed as the quiet man stood up from beside the fire place, removing a pistol from his inner pocket as he did so. Neither did anyone notice as the man walked calmly towards the Prime Minister. When he was close enough, without saying a word, the man fired his pistol directly at Mr. Perceval’s chest. The Prime Minister staggered forward before falling to the ground, calling out as he did so words that witnesses later recalled in different ways as: “I am murdered!” or ‘Murder, Murder’ or ‘Oh God!’ or ‘Oh my God!’
The assassin, it turns out, was a Liverpool businessman named John Bellingham who had recently done time in a Russian debtors’ prison and didn’t feel that his own government had done much on his behalf. Funny how the shooting of Mr. Perceval didn’t persuade them otherwise.
IMAGE: Mr Perceval Assassinated by Ballingham, artist unknown (Norris Museum)