The Assassination of Julius Caesar (March 15, 44 BC)
“Beware the Ides of March,” so sayeth the soothsayer, not once, but twice, perhaps even thrice, only to be ignored by Caesar in Shakespeare’s epic tragedy. Why did Caesar not heed this warning? Could we have avoided the assassination that changed the course of Western history, igniting years of bloody civil wars and the rise of the despotic Roman Empire? Depicted above is “Mort de César” (“The Death of Caesar”) by Vincenzo Camuccini, Italian painter of Neoclassic histories and religious paintings, 1798. (Source: Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna). Click here to read more about the unusual circumstances surrounding Julius Caesar’s assassination!
The Legend of the Great Fire of Meireki (March 2, 1657)
On March 2, 1657, a fire started in a Japanese temple in the city of Edo, which is now Tokyo. Raging for three days, it destroyed much of the city, killing 100,000 of its 300,000 inhabitants. Legend has it that the fire was started accidentally by a priest cremating a cursed kimono. The kimono had been owned in succession by three teenage girls who all died before ever being able to wear it. When the garment was being burned, a large gust of wind fanned the flames causing the wooden temple to ignite. Click here to read more amazing ill-fated tales of March.
Worst Civilian Disaster in World War II (March 3, 1943)
In the midst of World War II, on the night of March 3, 1943, the air-raid sirens screamed, sending hundreds of English civilians rushing into the underground station in Bethnal Green, east of London. In the ensuing panic, prompted when an artillery battery in nearby Victoria Park unleashed an anti-aircraft barrage, 173 people, including 62 children, died in the horrific crush on the stairs of the station. As it turned out, there were no approaching war hawks of the German Luftwaffe. It had been a test. Click here to read more twisted, tragic tales from the ominous month of March.
John Wilkes Booth Driven to Murderous Plot (March 4, 1865)
In the weeks prior to the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, celebrated John Wilkes Booth and his band of bumbling henchmen were still drinking up their nerve. Far from committed, their initial plot was to kidnap Lincoln. That is, until Booth was inspired to murder while attending Lincoln’s second inauguration. This eerie photograph (top) of Lincoln delivering his second inaugural address is the only known image of the event. Lincoln stands in the center, with papers in his hand. John Wilkes Booth is visible in the photograph, in the top row right of center (Source: Alexander Gardner – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division.) Click here to read more about the strange circumstances that drove Booth to murder and changed history that fateful March morning.
Exxon Valdez Accident Environmental Apocalypse (March 24, 1989)
The Exxon Valdez disaster ranks it as perhaps the most tragic environmental catastrophes ever in human history. Click here to learn what epic bad luck was required to spill a stunning 750,000 barrels into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Pictures above are just some of the millions of animals destroyed by the tragedy. (Picture Source: Photo courtesy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council)
“Remember the Alamo” is perhaps the most recognizable battle cry from United States history. Yet that epic day turned out to be as unlucky for the predatory Mexican forces as it did for the unfortunate souls annihilated in the Spanish mission . Click here to see why President General Antonio López de Santa Anna probably wished he could “Forget the Alamo.” Picture above is “The Fall of the Alamo,” by artist Robert Jenkins Onderdon (1852-1917) (Source: Gift of Eleanor Onderdon, Dallas Museum of Art)
Three Mile Island Nuclear Meltdown (March 28, 1979)
Decades later, Three Mile Island remains the worst accident at a nuclear facility in United States history. (Source: Washington Post Article). Yet did you know there was a bizarre Hollywood connection to the disaster? Click here to learn more about this dramatic real-life, ripper-from-the-headlines coincidence.
Mysterious Cosmic Event Prevents Proper Response to the Black Death (March 20, 1345)
“The Black Death,” or the medieval iteration of the Bubonic Plague that devastated Europe, the Middle East and Asia during the 14th century, resulted in as many as 25 million deaths. Yet even as the Great Plague spread from the east devastating whole populations, medieval astronomers at the University of Paris concocted what at the time seemed a plausible culprit. Unfortunately, that derailed any substantial, coordinated investigation into physical evidence, hindering the search for truth that could have saved millions of lives. (Picture Source: “The Plague of Florence in 1348,” as described in Boccaccio’s Decameron. Etching by L. Sabatelli.) Click here to learn more about that mysterious event.
Boston Massacre Provides the Propaganda to Propel a Revolution (March 5, 1770)
In 1770, the rebels in the 13 colonies needed a spark to ignite a revolution. They found it in a series of unusual circumstances that converged on “The Incident on King Street.” Picture above is “The Boston Massacre,” painting by Alonzo Chappel. (Source: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) Click here to see how the rebels manipulated the situation to inspire a historic uprising.
The Great New Orleans Fire That Should Have Been Prevented (March 21, 1788)
The Great New Orleans Fire in 1788, also known as The Good Friday Fire of New Orleans, consumed most of the city, requiring, among other things, a complete rebuilding of the French Quarter during subsequent Spanish occupations. (Hence the reason why its architectural its aesthetic would be French only in name moving forward.) However, that fire need not have blazed so far out of control. Click here to learn what unlucky circumstance really helped fuel this epic disaster. Pictured is a map of The Great New Orleans Fire of 1788 that destroyed much of the city. (Source: The United States Library of Congress.)
Mysterious Accident Leads to Deepwater Horizon Explosion (March 2010)
Before 2010, the Deepwater Horizon—an ultra-deep-water offshore oil drilling platform semi-submersed in the Gulf of Mexico—was considered lucky. In April 2010, not so much, The Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers, injured 17 others, and poured an astonishing 4.9 billion barrels of crude oil into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, severely damaging thousands of square nautical miles of ocean and coastline. Yet it was an accident weeks before that may have been the key culprit. Click here to read more about that earlier event. (Picture Source: United States Coast Guard)
Spanish Flu Kills Sweeps the World (March 4, 1918)
With 500 million afflicted, the world has never seen such an epidemic as deadly as the Spanish Flu. In two years, it dwarfed the death tolls of centuries of Black Death bubonic plague outbreaks. Yet it took the fantastically bad luck to spread as it did during World War 1. Click here to read how a ridiculously random set of circumstances led to this epic pandemic. Pictures above is the emergency military hospital during influenza epidemic, Camp Funston, Kansas, United States. (Source: National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C., United States; “Pandemic Influenza: The Inside Story,” Nicholls H, PLoS Biology Vol. 4/2/2006, e50 )
Napoleon Wins the Battle, But Loses the War (March 11, 1799)
In 1799, with Napoleon obsessed with conquering the Mideast in his latest leg of global domination, the French engaged in a desperate war with the Ottoman Turks. To clear the path to victory, Napoleon defeated the stubborn Arab forces led by Ahmed al-Jazzar at the ancient stronghold city of Jaffa. Yet Napoleon’s ambitions would be soon thwarted, but not by military might. Click here to learn what unusual circumstances derailed his quest for Mideast, and global, domination. Picture above is Bonaparte visiting the Pesthouse in Jaffa, oil on canvas by artist Antoine-Jean Gros (1771-1835). (Source: Current location The Louvre in Paris).
U.S. President Ronald Regan Gunned Down (March 30, 1981)
On a crisp March morning in 1980, an amateur assassin stepped out of a crowd of media and milling onlookers and gunned down U.S. President Ronald Reagan as he was exiting the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. (pictured above). Yet this wasn’t the only March connection in this bizarre plot. Click here to find out how Hollywood starlet Jody Foster, cult classic Taxi Driver, and 1972 presidential candidate George Wallace all played parts in this failed attempt on Reagan. (Picture Source: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library)
The Bikini Atoll Bomb Blast (March 1, 1954)
The mushroom cloud from nuclear weapon test “Castle Bravo” on Bikini Atoll, producing by far the most terrible instance of US-caused radioactive contamination ever. (Source: United States Department of Energy). Click here to see how the consequences of that misguided testing reverberate to this day.
Preventable Plane Crash Epics Earlier Crash (March 22, 1992)
One early morning in 1992, Cleveland-bound USAir Flight 405 plunged into the icy waters of Flushing Bay in Queens, New York. The crash took 27 lives, including the ill-fated captain. It took months of investigations before the full scope of contributing factors were understood. In the aftermath of the Flight 405 tragedy, a fierce debate emerged. Click here to learn why some felt this disaster could have been averted. Picture above is the wreckage of the USAir Flight 405 crash, Laguardia Airport, New York City, 1992. (Source: The United States National Transportation Safety Board)
The “Rape” of the Sabine Women Changes History (March 1, 752)
The seminal event that led to the early expansion of what would become the Roman Empire, depicted here in Peter Paul Rubens oil on panel masterpiece “The Rape of the Sabine Women.” (Source: The National Gallery, London) Click here to learn how this unusual event, that was not exactly a “rape” at all, changed world history.
Rail Malfunction Leads Massive Biohazard and Mass Evacuation (March 5, 1995)
It all started with a single broken rail. On a cold March morning in 1995, that malfunction derailed 37 cars. What transformed this event from a non-newsworthy industrial railroad car pileup into a front-page bio-hazardous holocaust were the contents of seven of those 37 derailed cars: highly flammable liquid petroleum. Moreover, seven more cars contained highly combustible propane. And just to cap things off, two more cars were laden full of sodium hydroxide. And that’s not all. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board.) Click here to read how even more bizarre circumstances led to the mass evacuation of Weyauwega, Wisconsin, for 16 days.
Mexico Invades the United States, Seriously! (March 9, 1916)
In a daring nighttime raid now known as the Battle of Columbus, renegade revolutionary General Francisco “Pancho” Villa invaded and embarrassed the United States prior to World War 1. Click here to learn why this is one of the lesser-known black eyes for the US military. (Picture Source: Archivo General de la Nación, Mexico)
Courrières Accident Worst Mine Disaster in European History (March 10, 1906)
In 1906, a staggering 1,099 miners perished in the Courrières mine disaster, many of them children, marking the worst mining accident in European history. Click here to read about the unusual circumstances that drove the tragically high death toll. (Picture Source: Compagnie des mines de Courrières)
United States Pulls Off Biggest Land Grab in World History (March 11, 1893)
French leader Napoleon Bonaparte made the disastrous decision to sell the massive Louisiana Purchase to the United States, for the ridiculous discount of less than four cents per acre. Yet this wasn’t even the biggest real estate con in US history. Click here to learn what other nation was duped out of a massive parcel of valuable land. (Picture Source: United States Frank Bond – Government Printing Office (1912) Map no. 4)
Hundreds of Irish Lives Swept Away in Mysterious Doolough Tragedy (March 30, 1849)
The Doolough Tragedy along the black lake is a haunting tale of human suffering from the height of Great Irish Famine of the 19th century. Unfortunately, this dark tragedy was entirely preventable. Click here to learn what callous act led to the loss of 400 pour souls along the lake. Pictured is the Doolough Famine Tragedy Memorial, Co. Mayo 1994
My Lai Massacre Shocks the World (March 14, 1970)
Unidentified Vietnamese bodies on the road, victims from the notorious My Lai Massacre that irreparably harmed US foreign policy. Click here to learn how the repercussions of “Pinkville” echoed far beyond the killing fields on Southeast Asia. (Picture Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Report of Army review into My Lai incident, Book 6, 1970)
Epic New London Explosion Destroys Elementary School (March 18, 1937)
The tragic remains of the New London Elementary School after the gas explosion that claimed more than 300 lives, most of them children. Click here to learn not only how this tragedy was caused by a misguided cost-cutting measure, as how its impact is felt in every US home today. (Source: New London School District)
Sharpeville Massacre Draw Apartheid onto International Stage (Marsh 21, 1960)
Though Apartheid in South Africa would linger for two more decades, the Sharpeville Massacre drew international attention to the cause. Yet it almost didn’t happen. Click here to find out why. (Picture Source: Painting by Godfrey Rubens currently located in the South African Consulate in London)
Lindberg Baby “Crime of Century Ends in Tragedy (March 1, 1932)
The “Crime of the Century” kidnapping of famed aviator Charles Lindberg’s infant son was dubbed “… the biggest story since the resurrection…” by famed journalist H.L. Mencken. (1771-1835). Click here to learn how an unfortunate accident led to the tragedy that devastated the man formerly known as “Lucky Lindy.” (Picture Source: Wanted Poster, United States Federal Bureau of Investigation)