1815 – Napoleon is defeated at Waterloo

So much in life depends on the slightest chances, and nowhere moreso than in war. The Duke of Wellington, who commanded the winning forces at Waterloo, later stated that the battle was “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life.

Napoleon commanded a French army 69,000 strong, while Wellington led a force consisting of 24,000 were British troops, with another 6,000 from the King’s German Legion, 17,000 Dutch troops, 11,000 from Hanover, 6,000 from Brunswick, and 3,000 from Nassau. Compared to Napoleon’s more disciplined and experienced force, Wellington’s was much less organised and coherent, especially the Prussian forces that were in the midst of a reorganisation.

But in the event, and despite the inevitable chaos and mischance of battle, the Anglo-Prussian Alliance was victorious. Defeat at Waterloo was the final reverse for Napoleon. From ruling most of Europe, he was reduced to a life lived in exile in St Helena, where he died six years later.

Referenced in:

Waterloo – ABBA
Waterloo – Iced Earth
Huogoumont – Judicator
Slattery’s Mounted Fut – Percy French
Lydia the Tattooed Lady – Groucho Marx

1983 – Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space

When the Space Shuttle Challenger launched on June 18, 1983 on mission STS-7, Sally Kristen Ride, age 32, became the first American woman in space as a crew member. (She was third overall, behind the Soviets Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982.)

Ride was selected by NASA in 1978, after answering a newspaper advertisment for the space program – 8900 other people also answered it. On her first mission, she was one of a five member crew who deployed two communications satellites and conducted pharmaceutical experiments. Ride rode again in 1984, again on the Challenger, and after the Challenger exploded on takeoff, she was a member of the Presidential Committee charged with investigating the mishap.

Referenced in:

We Didn’t Start The Fire – Billy Joel

1990 – James Pough goes on a shooting spree

James Edward Pough was 42 years old on June 18, 1990, when he began his killing spree shortly after midnight. His first kills were a pimp and a prostitute. Following this, he shot and wounded two youths and robbed a convenience store. But this was merely the overture.

At approximately 10:45, he entered the office of General Motors Acceptance Corporation in Jacksonville, Florida – the same office that had repossessed his Pontiac five months earlier. He opened fire, killing nine people and wounding four more over the next before turning his weapon on himself. His suicide effectively ended the rampage, leaving behind little explanation of Pough’s motives or intentions.

Referenced in:

What the Hell Did You Do? / James Pough — Macabre