1863: The Confederate cruiser CSS Alabama caught up to and sank the sidewheeler gunboat USS Hatteras off Galveston Lighthouse in Texas. About 18 months later, after a battle with the USS Kearsarge off the coast of France, the Alabama was sunk. Read a short history of the Alabama on HistoryNet.com.
Also in history today:
1879: The Anglo-Zulu War began in South Africa. Read about the war's Battle of Khambula on HistoryNet.com.
1942: The Japanese overran Kuala Lumpur, Malaya. Meanwhile, another Japanese force overran Tarakan, Borneo, killing or subsequently executing nearly all of the 1,3000 Dutch garrison -- and gaining access to some 700 oil fields, an oil refinery and an airfield.