October 8: The Great Chicago Fire, Franklin National Bank Collapse and Other Events of the Day
A number of interesting events took place on October, 8 in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.
1862 – The Battle of Perryville
The Battle of Perryville was a part of the Kentucky Campaign, also known as the Confederate Heartland Offensive, and despite the fact that the Dixies managed to achieve tactic victory in this battle, they suffered heavy losses and other unbearable circumstances during the campaign as a whole, which forced them to retreat, leaving Kentucky under the control of the North till the end of the Civil War.
The Southern soldiers were outnumbered by the Union: If a U.S. general in this battle, Don Carlos Buell, ordered no less than 55,000 soldiers to march into the battlefield, the Confederates under the command of Braxton Bragg could only gather no more than 16,000 warriors against them.
An interesting fact is that Buell, who was several miles behind the action, was unaware that a major battle was about to take place, thus he did not send any reserves to the front until late in the afternoon, which the Confederates managed to take advantage of. Only with the help of two Union brigades eventually sent to the battlefield could they stabilize the front line. In an attempt to make a breakthrough, three Confederate regiments assaulted the Union division on the Springfield Pike but were repulsed and fell back to the town of Perryville. Union troops pursued, and skirmishing occurred in the streets until dark. By that time, Union reinforcements (eventually sent into the battle) were threatening the Confederate left flank. Confederate General Bragg, short of men and supplies, withdrew during the night, and continued the Confederate retreat by way of Cumberland Gap into east Tennessee.
With the overall number of casualties of 845 killed, 2,851 wounded and 515 either captured, or missing in action from the Union side and of 510 killed, 2,635 wounded and 251 captured or missing from the Confederate side, this battle is considered to be one of the bloodiest and deadliest during the whole Civil War, and it was certainly the largest battle fought in the state of Kentucky.
1871 – The Great Chicago Fire
One of the worst fires in U.S. history happened this day 147 years ago in Chicago, Illinois. The fire started at about 9:00 p.m. on October 8, in or around a small barn belonging to the O'Leary family that bordered the alley behind 137 DeKoven Street. The shed next to the barn was the first building to be consumed by the fire, yet city officials never determined the exact cause of it. Whatever it was, the rapid spread of the fire due to a long drought in the prior summer, strong winds from the southwest, and the rapid destruction of the water pumping system were the main reasons for the disaster.
At that time, Chicago only had 185 firefighters with just 17 horse-drawn steam engines, so they couldn’t stop the spread of fire purely technically. The fire killed no less than 300 hundred Chicagoans, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed 17,500 building throughout the city, and cost the city budget an enormous amount of money — $222 million. Nonetheless, with valuable foreign help (especially from the U.K.), the city was soon rebuilt and became one of the financial and cultural capitals of the country.
1974 – Franklin National Bank collapse
To this day nobody knows for sure, why the once-twentieth largest bank in the U.S. collapsed back in 1974, yet there is much conspiracy and speculation around it. Most of the ideas directly connect the Franklin National’s bankruptcy with the activities of the banker Michele Sindona, who was close to the Sicilian mafia.
As is widely believed, Sindona’s ties with the Vatican Bank and the Sicilian drug cartel helped him use Franklin National as one of the biggest laundering tools in American history, which, along with the incompetence of the heads of the bank, eventually led to its collapse.
These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on October 8, at least in our view.