What happened on this day in history: Robert E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Baghdad falls to U.S. forces, and more.
1835: King Leopold II Of Belgium Is Born
King Leopold II is born in Brussels, Belgium. Leopold II is most known for his extreme brutality in Belgium’s Congo Free State. Under his leadership, Leopold turned the Congo was turned into a playground for his economic interests. He sent mercenaries to enforce strict production quotes across the country and harshly punished anyone who stepped out of line. Millions of people died under Leopold’s rule.
1865: Robert E. Lee Surrenders To Ulysses S. Grant
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War, though the conflict technically dragged on until August 1866. In a strange quirk of history, Lee’s surrender took place in the parlor of a farmer named Wilmer McLean, who had fled his Manassas, Virginia farmhouse in 1861 after the first battle of the Civil War was fought there.
1881: Billy The Kid Is Found Guilty Of Murder
Billy the Kid is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. A Wild West outlaw, Billy had killed the sheriff of Lincoln County, William Brady, during the Lincoln County War. Though he managed to escape, Billy the Kid was tracked down and killed by the new Lincoln County sheriff, Pat Garrett, in July.
1942: Bataan Death March Begins
The Bataan Death March begins in the Philippines during World War II. After surrendering during the Battle of Bataan, 75,000 Filipino and American troops were forced to march for 65 miles toward prison camps by Japanese troops. An estimated 650 American and 16,500 Filipino soldiers were killed during the march.
2003: Baghdad Falls To U.S. Forces
The city of Baghdad falls to American troops three weeks after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Triggered by the assertion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the success of the invasion was seemingly encapsulated by the widely shared image of Iraqis tearing down a statue of Saddam Hussein. However, the United States would not officially withdraw from Iraq until 2011.