First Fleet Leaves England for Australia
On this day in 1787, 11 ships known as the First Fleet left England for Australia. On board were 1487 people, including 778 convicts. Their destination was Botany Bay in what was then known as New Holland. The expedition was under the leadership of Captain Arthur Phillip, soon to be Governor Phillip and later Admiral Phillip. The First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay from the 18th January 1788.
An account of the journey can be found at the Internet Archive. I am currently working on a copy of this work for the Tracing our History website.
A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay, by Watkin Tench
Robert E. Lee: Turns Down Offer to Lead Union Troops
On this day in 1861, with the Civil War in the United States in its very early stages, Colonel Robert E. Lee was offered the role of Major General in the United States Army. Knowing that Virginia was likely to secede from the Union, Lee turned the offer down and resigned from the United States Army two days later. This despite having said to his son in a letter that ‘I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union.’ However, it was love for and loyalty to his home state of Virginia, that forced his hand to join the Confederacy. On the 23rd of April Lee took command of the armed forces of Virginia and began his role in the southern rebellion, in which he would rise to be the General-in-Chief of all Confederate forces. Almost four years later, on the 9th April 1865, his role in the war ended with his surrender to U.S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.