On this day in 1775, British General William Howe lands troops on the Charlestown Peninsula that overlooked Boston. He sent the men in columns to attack the Patriot’s position at Breed’s Hill. Charging twice and having been repulsed with heavy losses, they charged again. This time reaching the trenches. By this time, the Americans were running low on ammo, were forced to retreat. During the battle, Patriot General William Prescott told his men, “Don’t one of you fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” Though the British won the battle in the tactical sense, the Patriots won the moral victory in that it gave them a rallying cry and brought the men together for a common enemy.
On this day in 1815, At Waterloo in Belgium, Napoleon Bonaparte suffers defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington, bringing an end to the Napoleonic era of European history.
On this day in 1864, The most successful and feared Confederate commerce raider of the war, the CSS Alabama, sinks after a spectacular battle off the coast of France with the USS Kearsarge.
On this day in 1943, British bombers perform the first “shuttle bombing” raid of the war, attacking sites in Germany and Italy.
On this day in 1779, Spain declares war on Great Britain, creating a de facto alliance with the Americans.
On this day in 1941, over 3 million German troops invade Russia in three parallel offensives, in what is the most powerful invasion force in history. Nineteen panzer divisions, 3,000 tanks, 2,500 aircraft, and 7,000 artillery pieces pour across a thousand-mile front as Hitler goes to war on a second front.
On this day in 1776, off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, British Commodore Sir Peter Parker notifies General Henry Clinton that he will land on the South Carolina mainland the next day on the flood tide, if the wind blows from the south.