May 7, 1915
This civilian steamer RMS Lusitania is sunk by a German submarine’s torpedo, killing 1,198 (including 128 Americans) of 1,959 people on board. It was later revealed that the Lusitania was carrying about 173 tons of war munitions for Britain, which the Germans cited as justification for the attack. The sinking contributed to the U.S. entry into World War I and became an iconic symbol in military recruiting campaigns.
May 8, 1945
VE (Victory in Europe) Day. British and Americans celebrate Germany’s unconditional surrender the previous day.
May 9, 1864
During the Civil War battle of Spotsylvania, American general John Sedgwick proclaims, “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance,” just as he was shot and killed by a confederate sharpshooter.