April 19th in American history

Mural at the Massachusetts State House of the Baltimore Riot on April 19, 1861.

I suppose you could pick any day of the year and find many important things that happened through the years on that day. Perhaps because April 19 has local significance due to the 1775 battles at Lexington and Concord, and the 1861 riot involving soldiers from Lowell at the start of the Civil War, that we pay closer attention to that day. But it seems in the last few decades, a lot of bad things have happened on April 19. Here’s a partial list:

April 19, 1775 – The American Revolution begins when British troops march from Boston to Lexington where the troops fired upon the Lexington militia company and then marched to Concord where they engaged more militia units at the North Bridge. As the British retreated back to Boston, they were fired on continuously by regional militia units. In all, 73 British soldiers and 49 colonists were killed.

April 19, 1861 – While en route to Washington DC to defend the capital from southern rebels, the Lowell-based Sixth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was ambushed in Baltimore by a pro-southern mob. By the time the firing ended, four Massachusetts soldiers had been killed and several dozen wounded. At least a dozen rioters were killed when the soldiers returned fire.

April 19, 1865 – A funeral is held at the White House for President Abraham Lincoln who was assassinated five days earlier at Ford’s Theatre. In Lowell, the dedication ceremony for the newly erected Ladd and Whitney Monument which was rescheduled to June 17, 1865 (Bunker Hill Day) in recognition of the President’s death.

April 19, 1975 – The Cambodian genocide begins two days after the fall of Phnom Penh with the newly in power Khmer Rouge regime rounding up all former government employees.

April 19, 1989 – During gunnery practice aboard the battleship USS Iowa, an explosion within a 16” gun turret killed 47 sailors.

April 19, 1995 – In the worst act of terrorism in US history up to that point, Timothy McVeigh ignited a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 and injuring more than 500 people.

April 19, 1993 – After a 51-day standoff with federal agents, 80 members of the Branch Davidian religious cult died in a fire at their compound near Waco, Texas.

April 20, 1999 – Two 12th grade students at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado, massacred 12 students and one teacher in an attack on the high school.

April 19, 2013 – Domestic terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested in Watertown, Massachusetts, after a region-wide lockdown that day following his and his brother’s bombing of the Boston Marathon a few days earlier.

April 19, 2015 – Freddie Gray, a 25-year old Black man, died a week after suffering a spinal cord injury in the back of a Baltimore police van while he was handcuffed and shackled.