By W. Thomas Smith, Jr.
This Week in American Military History:
Nov. 1, 1904: The new U.S. Army War College opens its doors to three majors and six captains, among them Capt. (future General of the Armies) John J. “Black Jack” Pershing.
According to Samuel J. Newland writing for Parameters, during the college’s formative years, “the instructional methodology … was reminiscent of the Prussian system of training general staff officers.”
Nov. 2, 1783: Gen. George Washington delivers his “Farewell Address to the Army” near Princeton, N.J., in which he refers to the Continental Army as “one patriotic band of brothers.”
Of his soldiers, whom he says displayed “invincible fortitude in action,” Washington offers his “prayers to the God of Armies,” adding that “may the choicest of Heaven’s favors both here and hereafter attend those, who under the divine auspices have secured innumerable blessings for others.”
Nov. 5, 1915: Nearly five years to the day after aviation pioneer Eugene B. Ely makes the first airplane takeoff from a ship, Lt. Commander (future Capt.) Henry Mustin becomes the first American to make a catapult launch from a ship underway. Mustin is catapulted from USS North Carolina (the second of six so-named American warships, including one submarine and one Confederate ironclad) in a Curtiss AB-2 flying boat.
Mustin, considered in some circles to be the “father of Naval aviation,” is also the grand patriarch of the Mustin Naval dynasty.
Of that dynasty, Capt. Louis Colbus (U.S. Navy, Ret.) former commander of Destroyer Squadron Two and the former chief of staff for Carrier Battle Group Eight, says, “Mustin flag-officers and others have led our Navy for nearly a century from aviation firsts to shipbuilding design and concepts to nuclear testing at the South Pole to battle-group tactics at sea, and at the same time inspiring generations of American sailors.”
Nov. 5, 1917: U.S. Army Maj. (future Brig. Gen.) Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and his younger brother Lt. (future Lt. Col.) Archibald Roosevelt, both sons of former Pres. Theodore Roosevelt (a former U.S. Army cavalry colonel who will receive the Medal of Honor in 2001 for actions during the Spanish-American War), lead the first American patrol into “No Man’s Land” during World War I.
No enemy contact is reported.
Like his presidential father, Theodore Jr. will receive the Medal of Honor, but the younger Roosevelt’s Medal will be for actions during the Normandy invasion, June 6, 1944.
Nov. 7, 1811: The Battle of Tippecanoe is fought between U.S. forces – composed of U.S. Army infantry, Kentucky volunteers, and Indiana militia all under the command of Indiana Gov. William Henry Harrison – and elements of Shawnee chief Tecumseh’s American Indian confederation under the command of Tenskwatawa (Tecumseh’s brother).
The fighting, which takes place near present-day Battle Ground, Indiana, will be a victory for U.S. forces. And Harrison – destined to become a brig. gen. during the War of 1812 and ultimately president of the United States – will forever be known as “the hero of Tippecanoe.”
Nov. 7, 1863: Union forces under the command of Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick decisively defeat Confederate forces under Maj. Gen. Jubal Early in the Battle of Rappahannock Station (Va.).
Though a “a complete and glorious victory” for the Union Army, Confederate Col. Walter Taylor will refer to the battle as “the saddest chapter in the history of this army … miserable, miserable management.”
In six months, Sedgwick will be shot and killed by a Confederate sharpshooter during the bloody Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: “This Week in American Military History,” appears every week as a feature of HUMAN EVENTS.
Let’s increase awareness of American military tradition and honor America’s greatest heroes by supporting the Medal of Honor Society’s 2010 Convention to be held in Charleston, S.C., Sept. 29 – Oct. 3, 2010 (for more information, click here).