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This Day in U.S. History: April 26


1777 – Sybil Ludington, aged 16, rides 40 miles to alert American colonial forces to the approach of the British.

1805 – First Barbary War: United States Marines captured Derne under the command of First Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon.

1865 – American Civil War: Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrenders his army to General William Tecumseh Sherman at the Bennett Place near Durham, North Carolina. Also the date of Confederate Memorial Day for two states.

1865 – Union cavalry troopers corner and shoot dead John Wilkes Booth, assassin of President Lincoln, in Virginia.

1933 – The Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, is established.

1945 – World War II: Battle of Bautzen: Last successful German tank-offensive of the war and last noteworthy victory of the Wehrmacht.

1945 – World War II: Filipino troops of the 66th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Commonwealth Army, USAFIP-NL and the American troops of the 33rd and 37th Infantry Division, United States Army are liberated in Baguio City and they fight against the Japanese forces under General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

1956 – SS Ideal X, the world's first successful container ship, leaves Port Newark, New Jersey for Houston, Texas.

1958 – Final run of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Royal Blue from Washington, D.C., to New York City after 68 years, the first U.S. passenger train to use electric locomotives.

1962 – NASA's Ranger 4 spacecraft crashes into the Moon.

1981 – Dr. Michael R. Harrison of the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center performs the world's first human open fetal surgery.

1991 – Seventy tornadoes break out in the central United States. Before the outbreak's end, Andover, Kansas, would record the year's only F5 tornado.


1804 – Charles Goodyear, American banker, lawyer, and politician (d. 1876)

1822 – Frederick Law Olmsted, American journalist and designer, co-designed Central Park (d. 1903)

1826 – George Hull Ward, American general (d. 1863)

1886 – Ma Rainey, American singer (d. 1939)

1897 – Eddie Eagan, American boxer and bobsledder (d. 1967)

1900 – Charles Francis Richter, American seismologist and physicist (d. 1985)

1917 – I. M. Pei, Chinese-American architect, designed the National Gallery of Art and Bank of China Tower

1933 – Carol Burnett, American actress, singer, and producer

1983 – Jessica Lynch, American soldier and POW


1865 – John Wilkes Booth, American actor, assassin of Abraham Lincoln (b. 1838)

1946 – James Larkin White, American miner, explorer, and park ranger (b. 1882)

1970 – Gypsy Rose Lee, American actress, exotic dancer, and writer (b. 1911)

1973 – Irene Ryan, American actress and philanthropist (b. 1902)

1976 – Sidney Franklin, American bullfighter (b. 1903)

1984 – Count Basie, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (b. 1904)

1989 – Lucille Ball, American actress and producer (b. 1911)

1991 – A. B. Guthrie, Jr., American novelist and historian, (b. 1901)

2007 – Jack Valenti, American businessman, created the MPAA film rating system (b. 1921)

2014 – Paul Robeson, Jr., American historian and author (b. 1927)