On This Day

What Happened in May 1862

Historical Events

  • May 1 Major General Benjamin Butler's Union forces occupy New Orleans (US Civil War)
  • May 4 -5] Battle at Williamsburg, Virginia

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 4 Yorktown, VA - Mcclellan halted his troop before town as it is full of armed torpedoes left by CS Brigadier General Gabrial Rains

Union General George McClellan
Union General
George McClellan
  • May 5 French army intervenes in Puebla, Mexico: Cinco de Mayo
  • May 5 Peninsular Campaign-Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia
  • May 7 Battle of West Point, Virginia (Eltham's Landing, Barnhamsville)
  • May 7 Much of Enschede, Netherlands, destroyed by fire
  • May 8 Valley Campaign: Federals repulsed at Battle of McDowell, Virginia
  • May 9 Battle of Farmington, Mississippi
  • May 9 Battle of Fort Pickens, Florida, Pensacola evacuated by Confederates
  • May 9 US Naval Academy relocated from Annapolis Maryland to Newport, Rhode Island
  • May 10 Battle of Plum Run Bend, Tennessee
  • May 11 Confederates scuttle CSS Virginia off Norfolk, Virginia
  • May 12 Federal troops occupies Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • May 14 Adolphe Nicole of Switzerland patents chronograph
  • May 15 -May 17] Battle of Princeton West Virginia

  • May 15 Battle of Drewry's Bluff (Fort Darling), Virginia
  • May 15 Confederate ship Alabama launched as the Enrica at Birkenhead, England, where she had been built in secret
  • May 15 US Department of Agriculture created
  • May 15 Major Gen Benjamin F Butler issues order (New Orleans) that confederate women abusing union soldiers be treated as whores
  • May 15 First baseball enclosure opens at Union Grounds, Brooklyn
  • May 16 Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir builds 1st automobile
  • May 17 Battle of Princeton West Virginia, ends with about 128 casualities

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 20 US President Abraham Lincoln signs into law the Homestead Act to provide cheap land for the settlement of the American West (80 million acres by 1900)

16th US President Abraham Lincoln
16th US President
Abraham Lincoln

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 23 Valley Campaign: Stonewall Jackson takes Fort Royal, Virginia

Confederate General Stonewall Jackson
Confederate General
Stonewall Jackson
  • May 24 Beardslee field telegraph used for 1st time
  • May 24 Westminster Bridge across The Thames opens in London, England, second bridge replacing earlier bridge fallen into decay
  • May 25 First Battle of Winchester, Virginia
  • May 27 Battle of Hanover Court House, Virginia (Slash Church, Peake's Station)
  • May 30 Battle of Booneville MS - captured Gen Beauregard evacuates Corinth
  • May 31 Battle of Seven Pines Virginia (Fair Oaks)

Famous Birthdays

  • May 2 Maurice Emmanuel, French composer and musicologist (Salamine), born in Bar-sur-Aube, France (d. 1938)
  • May 5 Max Elskamp, Belgian author and poet (Lesson Joies Blondes, Maya), born in Antwerp, Belgium (d. 1931)
  • May 15 Arthur Schnitzler, Austrian playwright/novelist (La Ronde)
  • May 18 Freiherr Albert von Schrenk-Notzing, German para-psychologist
  • May 19 Mikhail Nesterov, Russian painter (d. 1942)
  • May 22 August Cuppens, Flemish author (Limburgs Driemanschap), born in Beringen, Belgium (d. 1924)
  • May 23 William "Dummy" Hoy, professional baseball player who lived to 99
  • May 28 Henry Slocum, American tennis player (US Nationals 1888-89), born in Syracuse, New York (d. 1949)

Famous Deaths


Person of interestHenry David Thoreau

May 6 Henry David Thoreau, American writer/pacifist (Walden Pond), dies at 44

Naturalist/Pacifist Henry David Thoreau
Naturalist/Pacifist
Henry David Thoreau
  • May 16 Lev A Ms, Russian nobleman/poet, dies at 40
  • May 16 Joseph L. Hogg, American Brigadier General (Confederate Army), dies at 55
  • May 18 William High Keim, American Union brigadier general, dies in battle at 48
  • May 21 John Drew, Irish-born American actor and theatre manager, dies from head injuries at 34
  • May 25 Johann Nestroy, Austrian actor, singer and playwright (Judith und Holofernes), dies at 60
  • May 28 Lev Mei, Russian poet and dramatist, dies at 40 [O.S. 5/16]
  • May 29 Franciszek Wincenty Mirecki, composer, dies at 71
  • May 31 Robert Hopkins Hatton, American Brigadier General (Confederate Army), dies in battle at 35