1864 – In the American Civil War, the Battle of Atlanta begins with a Confederate attack that kills Major General James B. McPherson – In the early summer of 1864, Confederate forces in Georgia led by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston had repeatedly retreated from their pursuers, the Union Army of the Tennessee, led by General William Tecumseh Sherman. The Rebels were badly outnumbered, but senior Confederate leaders wanted to go on the offensive, so, on July 17, they placed the risk-taking Lt. Gen. John B. Hood in charge of their armies in Georgia. On July 20, Hood attacked Sherman’s army at the Battle of Peachtree Creek – and lost. The Confederates suffered over 2,500 casualties, and Hood withdrew to Atlanta, as Sherman pursued from the northwest, and Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson closed in from the northeast. The Battle of Atlanta began on this date in 1864, with Hood’s men unsuccessfully attempting to march around the flank of the Union forces. This attack was repulsed, but McPherson, who had ridden to the front to observe the battle, was shot and killed by Confederate infantry. He was the second-highest ranking officer to be killed in action during the Civil War. The battle became a siege over the following weeks, with Sherman’s forces shelling the city and capturing outlying Confederate rail lines needed to supply one of the South’s primary industrial centres. On Sept. 1, Hood and his men fled Atlanta, destroying huge caches of ammunition and other supplies as they left. Sherman sent a telegram to Washington on Sept. 3, reading “Atlanta is ours, and fairly won.” He then used Atlanta as a headquarters for his famous March to the Sea, reaching Savannah, Georgia and the Atlantic Ocean by mid-December, after weeks deep in enemy territory destroying railroads, telegraph lines and other important Confederate infrastructure. Sherman’s victories were influential in improving morale in the north, and an important factor in Abraham Lincoln’s one-sided victory in the 1864 presidential election over the former Union general George B. McClellan.
1991 – Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is arrested after police discover human remains in his Milwaukee apartment – Born in Wisconsin in 1960, Jeffrey Dahmer was seen as a loner from a young age, and was fascinated with dead animals. His father Lionel, a chemistry graduate, thought this was evidence of Jeffrey’s scientific curiosity and nurtured these instincts, showing him how to bleach and preserve bones for his collection. Jeffrey committed his first murder in 1978, while his family was living in Ohio, less than a month after graduating high school. He carefully broke down and disposed of the body of his victim, 18-year-old hitchhiker Steven Mark Hicks, and carried on with his life. In the years that followed, he attempted to attend Ohio State University and spent some time in the military serving in West Germany, but his worsening alcohol abuse saw him wash out of both. Back in the United States, he briefly moved in with his grandmother in Milwaukee, before finding an apartment of his own and proceeding to commit a series of increasingly grisly murders, killing men he met in the city’s gay night clubs and bathhouses. Between 1987 and 1991, he went on to commit a total of 16 more murders of men and boys ranging in age from 14 to 32, along with a host of other crimes including rape and dismemberment. On this date in 1991, three days after his last murder, Dahmer approached a man and offered to pay him to accompany him back to his apartment. The man, 32-year-old Tracy Edwards, sensed danger upon entering the apartment and managed to escape. He flagged down two police officers around 11:30 pm, and the three returned to Dahmer’s apartment. Investigating the place, one officer found a drawer full of Polaroid pictures Dahmer had taken of his victims. A severed head was later found in his refrigerator – one of many body parts hidden around the apartment. Dahmer was eventually charged with 15 counts of murder in Wisconsin and one more in Ohio. Although diagnosed with several personality disorders, he was deemed legally fit to stand trial. He pleaded guilty and received 16 life sentences. On Nov. 28, 1994, Dahmer was killed by another inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Wisconsin.
2003 – US Army forces attack a compound in Mosul, Iraq, killing Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay – When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, the U.S.-led coalition forces developed a set of playing cards to help troops identify the most-wanted members of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s government. As the very highest priority target, Saddam himself was the “Ace of Spades.” His two sons, Qusay and Uday, were on the Ace of Clubs and the Ace of Hearts, respectively, making them the number two and three highest priority targets after their father. Objectively, they were not nice men. After being appointed chairman of the Iraqi Olympic Committee and Iraq Football Association Uday, Saddam’s eldest son, was known to torture athletes who failed to win. Qusay was also known for killing many political activists in Iraq. In 2000, several years after Uday was severely injured in a 1996 assassination attempt, Saddam named his younger brother Qusay as heir apparent for control of Iraq. On this date in 2003, Members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne and a group of special forces totalling about 200 American soldiers, were checking out a tip in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. They were unsuccessful in getting the inhabitants of a house to come outside until, reportedly, a soldier hotwired Uday’s Lamborghini. The eldest Hussein son revealed himself, and a gunfight ensued that left a bodyguard, Uday, Qusay, and Qusay’s 14-year-old son Mustapha dead. Reports of their deaths were welcomed with celebrations on the streets of Baghdad. Four U.S. soldiers were wounded in the engagement. It would be another five months before Saddam was captured, in December 2003, near Tikrit.
2011 – Far-right lone wolf Anders Behring Breivik conducts a pair of attacks in Norway, killing 77 people and injuring over 300 more – Around 2002, when he was 23 years old, is when Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik claims he first began planning the two deadly attacks he launched in Oslo and at a youth camp on the island of Utøya on this date five years ago. He began his attack by detonating a van bomb near several government buildings in Oslo, which killed eight people. Within a few hours of the explosion he arrived at Utøya island, the site of a youth camp affiliated with the Norwegian Labour Party. He was able to ferry across to the island by posing as a police officer, before beginning an hour-long shooting spree, killing 69 more people, including one victim who was only 14 years old. A police counter-terrorism unit from Oslo responded to the shooting and Breivik surrendered without resistance. He confessed, saying the purpose of his attack was to save Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover, saying that he felt the Labour Party had to “pay the price” for “letting down Norway.” On the day of the attacks, Breivik electronically distributed a manifesto describing his military ideology, which advocated deporting all Muslims from Europe. His trial began in April 2012, and he was eventually found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.