August 26th, 2013 Headsman
Private Joseph Michaud, an artillery gunner, earned the distinction with one of the classic criminal archetypes, the ill-advised bender. Having snuck out on the town — Winnipeg, in this case — a progressively more belligerent Michaud found himself by the wee hours slashing with his knife one of his fellow duty-derelicters.
That other soldier wasn’t the murder victim: it was, instead, a passerby who saw Michaud brandishing his weapon and attempted to intervene. The boozy artillerist chased that poor man down and left the Good Samaritan a bloodied corpse in the street, pocked with thirty or more knife wounds.
Once he sobered up, Michaud was as appalled as anyone. At his trial, his plea was “coupable dans mon coeur et je merite la morte.” (“Guilty in my heart and I deserve to die.”) In a similar vein, Canada’s temperance movement seized on the case of the remorseful young man driven to an act of madness by drink. “The miserable end of this young man Michaud ought to be a lesson to our young men to keep away form the temptation of strong drink.” (That quote and a longer summation of the trial are here.)
On this day..
- 1791: Whiting Sweeting, who slew the first U.S. cop to die in the line of duty - 2016
- 1864: William Howe, deserter - 2015
- 1806: Johann Philipp Palm, press martyr - 2014
- 1825: Stephen Videto, Indian giver - 2012
- 1823: Natty and Louie, Demerara rebels - 2011
- 2008: Behnam Zare, pleading for his life - 2010
- 1857: Adolf Schlagintweit, intrepid explorer - 2009
- 2004: Enzo Baldoni - 2008