On this day in 1947, U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager becomes the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.
On this day in 1945, Pierre Laval, the puppet leader of Nazi-occupied Vichy France, is executed by firing squad for treason against France.
On this day in 1859, Abolitionist John Brown leads a small group on a raid against a federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), in an attempt to start an armed slave revolt and destroy the institution of slavery.
On this day in 1777, British General John Burgoyne surrenders 5,000 British and Hessian troops to Patriot General Horatio Gates at Saratoga, New York.
On this day in 1863, Union General Daniel Sickles returns to visit his old command, the Third Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He was recovering from the loss of his leg at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in July 1863, and the visit turned sour when the army’s commander, General George Meade, informed Sickles that he would not be allowed to resume command until he completely recovered from his injury.
On this day in 1781, Hopelessly trapped at Yorktown, Virginia, British General Lord Cornwallis surrenders 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to a larger Franco-American force, effectively bringing an end to the American Revolution.
On this day in 1944, After advancing island by island across the Pacific Ocean, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte, fulfilling his promise to return to the area he was forced to flee in 1942.