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On This Day: August 21

1851 - John McCaffrey Executed

On this date John McCaffrey was executed, the last execution to be carried out under Wisconsin law. McCaffrey received the death penalty for murdering his wife, Bridget McCaffrey. McCaffrey was tried in the county court in May 1851. The jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. This murder trial was the first major trial to be held in Kenosha. 3,000 citizens turned out to witness McCaffrey's execution by hanging. The restraints that bound him on the gallows ultimately found their way into the Society's Museum collection. McCaffrey's execution revived a strong statewide campaign to abolish the death penalty. Two years later, in 1853, the Death Penalty Repeal Act was signed into law.

1864 - (Civil War) Second Battle of Weldon Railroad ends near Petersburg, Virginia

The 2nd, 6th, 7th, 37th, and 38th Wisconsin Infantry regiments took part in the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad, also known as the Battle of Globe Tavern, near Petersburg, Virginia. On this day, the 7th Wisconsin Infantry repulsed a fierce attack. It then captured the 16th Mississippi Infantry and all its officers. This was the first Union victory in the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign. By destroying the railway while under heavy attack, Union troops forced Confederates to carry their provision 30 miles by wagon around Union lines to supply the city.