26 March 1812

An earthquake devastates Caracas, Venezuela.

The 1812 Caracas earthquake took place in Venezuela on March 26 on Maundy Thursday at 4:37 p.m. It measured 7.7 on the Richter magnitude scale. It caused extensive damage in Caracas, La Guaira, Barquisimeto, San Felipe, and Mérida. An estimated 15,000–20,000 people perished as a result, in addition to incalculable material damage.

The seismic movement was so drastic that in a zone named Valecillo a new lake was formed and the river Yurubí was dammed up. Numerous rivulets changed their course in the valley of Caracas, which was flooded with dirty water.

Based on contemporary descriptions, the earthquake is believed to have consisted of two seismic shocks occurring within the span of 30 minutes. The first destroyed Caracas and the second Mérida, where it was raining when the shock occurred.

Since the earthquake occurred on Maundy Thursday, while the Venezuelan War of Independence was raging, it was explained by royalist authorities as divine punishment for the rebellion against the Spanish Crown. The archbishop of Caracas, Narciso Coll y Prat, referred to the event as “the terrifying but well-deserved earthquake” which “confirms in our days the prophecies revealed by God to men about the ancient impious and proud cities: Babylon, Jerusalem and the Tower of Babel”.

The first international assistance received by Venezuela in response to the earthquake came from the United States, “…when the congress convened in Washington decreed unanimously the sending of five ships loaded with flour, to the coasts of Venezuela to be distributed among the most indigent of its inhabitants.

3 November 1812

Napoleon’s army is defeated at the Battle of Vyazma.

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The Battle of Vyazma, occurred at the beginning of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. In this encounter, the rear guard of the Grande Armée was defeated by the Russians commanded by General Mikhail Andreyevich Miloradovich. Although the French repelled Miloradovich’s attempt to encircle and destroy the corps of Louis Nicolas Davout, they withdrew in a partial state of disorder after suffering heavy casualties from continued Russian attacks.

The French reversal at Vyazma was not decisive, but it was noteworthy because of its disruptive impact on the Grande Armée’s retreat.

Miloradovich’s cavalry attacked the disorganized French column holding the length of road which separated the I Corps from the IV and V Corps. Miloradovich also ordered his artillery, positioned on nearby heights, to begin a cannonade. The attack was a complete success, as it captured the French IV Corps baggage train and sent the French troops fleeing in disarray. Miloradovich then placed infantrymen and horse batteries astraddle the road, thereby severing Davout’s connection with the rest of the French army.

Simultaneous to Miloradovich’s attack to the west of Davout, Platov’s Cossacks attacked Davout from the east, supported by Paskevich’s troops. Davout’s infantrymen formed squares to meet the attack from Platov and Paskevich, and his artillerymen set up their pieces to return Miloradovich’s fire. The 14,000 exhausted, hunger-weakened soldiers of Davout’s Corps were now at risk of being overwhelmed and destroyed by the Russians.

19 October 1812

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1800: Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, 1814. From the painting by Meissonier from the book The Outline of History by H.G.Wells Volume 2, published 1920. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

Napoleon Bonaparte retreats from Moscow.

The story of Napoleon’s advance to and retreat from Moscow, is one of the most pathetic in human history. Full of spirit, the Grand Army had started, but already difficulties were beginning. It took three days to cross the Niemen, by means of pontoon bridges thrown across; but they reached the far side unmolested, and pursued their way over the sandy wastes. The solitude of the way, the sultry heat of a Russian midsummer, and drenching thunderstorms depressed the spirits of the army.

During the disastrous retreat, Napoleon’s army suffered continual harassment from a suddenly aggressive and merciless Russian army. Stalked by hunger and the deadly lances of the Cossacks, the decimated army reached the Berezina River late in November but found its route blocked by the Russians. On November 26, Napoleon forced a way across at Studienka, and when the bulk of his army passed the river three days later, he was forced to burn his makeshift bridges behind him, stranding some 10,000 stragglers on the other side. From there, the retreat became a rout, and on December 8 Napoleon left what remained of his army to return to Paris with a few cohorts. Six days later, the Grande Armée finally escaped Russia, having suffered a loss of more than 400,000 men during the disastrous invasion.

3 September 1812

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Twenty four settlers are killed during the Pigeon Roost Massacre in Indiana.

On September 3, 1812, a war party of Native Americans made a surprise attack on the village. Twenty-four settlers, including fifteen children, were massacred. Two children were kidnapped. Only four of the Indian attackers were killed.

According to contemporary reports, the leader of the attack was rumored to be an Indian named Missilemotaw. He was captured on September 20, 1813 and under threat of death confessed he had led the raid. He claimed to be a close confidant of the Indian chieftain and told his captors the British had been supplying the Indians with arms and equipment since 1809 in preparation for war.The raid was the first Indian attack in Indiana during the War of 1812. The Pigeon Roost settlement was rebuilt, but was eventually abandoned.