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On This Day: May 16

1863 - (Civil War) Battle of Champion Hill, Mississippi

On May 16, 1863, roughly 33,000 Union troops surprised 23,000 Confederates at Champion Hill, midway between Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi. Three companies of the 23rd Wisconsin Infantry were among the first troops to engage the enemy. The entire regiment was instrumental in cutting off a large segment of the Confederate force. The 29th was at the center of the Union line and successfully charged uphill to capture a Confederate artillery battery.

1913 - Big Band Leader Woody Herman Born

On this date Woody Herman was born in Milwaukee. A child prodigy, Herman sang and tap-danced in local clubs before touring as a singer on the vaudeville circuit. He played in various dance bands throughout the 20s and 30s and by 1944 was leading a band eventually known as the First Herd. In 1946, the band played an acclaimed concert at Carnegie Hall but disbanded at the end of the year. The following year, Herman returned to performing with the Second Herd that included a powerful saxophone section comprised of Herbie Steward, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, and Serge Chaloff. He died in 1987. [Source: WoodyHerman.com].

1919 - Musical Icon Liberace Born in West Allis

On this date Wladziu Valentino Liberace was born in West Allis. Liberace's father played the French horn and was a member of the Milwaukee Philharmonic Orchestra and his mother played the piano. Liberace debuted as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony at the age of 14 and received a scholarship to attend the Wisconsin College of Music. In 1952, The Liberace Show, a syndicated television program, made Liberace a musical icon. Best remembered for his extravagant costumes and trademark candelabra placed on the lids of flashy pianos, Liberace was loved by his audiences for his musical talent and unique showmanship. He received two Emmy Awards, six gold albums, and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame before he died on February 4, 1987. [Source: The Liberace Foundation].

1933 - Military Mobilized Against Milk Strike

On this date, seventy-five members of the Janesville-based 32nd Tank Company and 121st Field Artillery were mobilized to quell potential violence in the Wisconsin farmers' statewide milk strike. The strike was called to protest low milk prices and protesters employed "milk dumping" as their main tactic. The following day, Private Harry Wolfe, a tank company member, was assaulted during strike-related violence that erupted in Waukesha County. [Source: Janesville Gazette].