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This Day in U.S. History: May 12


1780 – American Revolutionary War: In the largest defeat of the Continental Army, Charleston, South Carolina is taken by British forces.

1862 – American Civil War: U.S. federal troops occupy Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

1863 – American Civil War: Battle of Raymond: Two divisions of James B. McPherson's XVII Corps turn the left wing of Confederate General John C. Pemberton's defensive line on Fourteen Mile Creek, opening up the interior of Mississippi to the Union Army during the Vicksburg Campaign.

1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House: Thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers die in "the Bloody Angle".

1865 – American Civil War: The Battle of Palmito Ranch: The first day of the last major land action to take place during the Civil War, resulting in a Confederate victory.

1932 – Ten weeks after his abduction, the infant son of Charles Lindbergh, Charles Jr., is found dead in Hopewell, New Jersey, just a few miles from the Lindberghs' home.

1935 – Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith (founders of Alcoholics Anonymous) meet for the first time in Akron, Ohio, at the home of Henrietta Siberling.

1942 – World War II: The U.S. tanker SS Virginia is torpedoed in the mouth of the Mississippi River by the German submarine U-507.

1958 – A formal North American Aerospace Defense Command agreement is signed between the United States and Canada.

1975 – Mayaguez incident: The Cambodian navy seizes the American merchant ship SS Mayaguez in international waters.

2002 – Former US President Jimmy Carter arrives in Cuba for a five-day visit with Fidel Castro becoming the first President of the United States, in or out of office, to visit the island since Castro's 1959 revolution.

2008 – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducts the largest-ever raid of a workplace in Postville, Iowa, arresting nearly 400 immigrants for identity theft and document fraud.

2015 – A train derailment in Philadelphia kills 8 people and injures over 200.


1622 – Louis de Buade de Frontenac, French-Canadian soldier and politician, 3rd Governor General of New France (d. 1698)

1626 – Louis Hennepin, Flemish priest and missionary (d. 1705)

1850 – Henry Cabot Lodge, American historian and politician (d. 1924)

1907 – Katharine Hepburn, American actress (d. 2003)

1914 – Howard K. Smith, American journalist and actor (d. 2002)

1918 – Mary Kay Ash, American businesswoman, founded Mary Kay Cosmetics (d. 2001)

1918 – Julius Rosenberg, American spy (d. 1953)

1925 – Yogi Berra, American baseball player, coach, and manager (d. 2015)

1928 – Burt Bacharach, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer

1936 – Tom Snyder, American journalist and talk show host (d. 2007)

1937 – George Carlin, American comedian, actor, and author (d. 2008)

1951 – George Karl, American basketball player and coach

1962 – Emilio Estevez, American actor, director, and screenwriter

1963 – Vanessa A. Williams, American actress and producer

1966 – Stephen Baldwin, American actor, director, and producer

1968 – Tony Hawk, American skateboarder and actor

1969 – Kim Fields, American actress and director

1970 – Jim Furyk, American golfer


1864 – J. E. B. Stuart, American general (b. 1833)

1925 – Amy Lowell, American poet and critic (b. 1874)

1992 – Robert Reed, American actor and director (b. 1932)

2001 – Perry Como, American singer and television host (b. 1912)

2008 – Robert Rauschenberg, American painter and illustrator (b. 1925)

2016 – Susannah Mushatt Jones, American supercentenarian (b. 1899)