Day By Day

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This Day In History

Today is Defenders Day in Maryland commemorating the Battle of North Point in which American forces repulsed a British assault on Baltimore in 1814.

Today is generally recognized as the date on which the Battle of Marathon ended in 490 BC. It was the culmination of an attempt by Persian King Darius I to conquer Greece. At the time the Persian [Iranian] military was considered to be unbeatable. Darius commanded an empire that stretched from Anatolia to India, had already conquered several Greek cities in Asia Minor, and now had successfully landed his forces in Greece itself. His army consisted of infantry [estimates range from 100,000 to 600,000 troops] and 10,000 cavalry. Opposing him was a force of 9,000 Athenians and 1,000 Plataeans under the command of Militades. For five days the Greeks successfully held back the numerically superior Persian forces then, in an amazingly audacious move, they formed a phalanx and went on the attack, forcing the Persians to retreat. This ended the first attempt on the part of Persia to conquer Greece. Many historians consider it to be the most significant battle in the history of Western culture [Personally, I am holding out for Pinkie Cleugh] because it maintained [at least for a while] the independence of the Greek city-states and elevated Athens to the status of first among the Greek poleis. There is no truth to the tradition that a runner named Phedippides ran 26 miles to Athens to announce the victory [he actually ran to Sparta to ask for aid]. What really happened was that Athenian troops immediately after the battle hurried back to Athens to repel a Persian amphibious assault.

And on this day in 1609 Henry “Hudson” discovered the “Hudson” River — Same name, what are the odds?

And on this day in 1683 combined Austrian and Polish forces led by John Sobieski drives the Ottoman Turks back from the Gates of Vienna. This ends that last Muslim attempt to conquer Europe.

And this day in 1940 marks the discovery of the Lascaux cave paintings.

And, finally, bringing it all back home, on this day in 1947 Pirate superstar Ralph Kiner hits eight home runs in four consecutive games.