Archive for the ‘Military History’ Category
1777: 16-year-old Sybil Ludington – “the female Paul Revere” – begins her 40-mile, all-night ride across an isolated circuit of New York–Connecticut backcountry, warning villagers of a British attack on nearby Danbury, Connecticut.
1865: After three days of negotiations with Union Maj. Gen. William Sherman, Gen. Joseph Johnson surrenders the Army of Tennessee, along with the remaining Confederates in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida – nearly 90,000 troops – to Union Maj. Gen. William Sherman in the largest surrender of the war. Sherman supplies the Confederate soldiers with rations and orders food to be distributed to Southerners, in stark contrast to his “scorched earth” campaign.
That same day, Union cavalry troopers track down John Wilkes Booth – Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s assassin – at a tobacco barn in Virginia. 12 days after shooting the president, the fugitive is himself shot and killed.
1952: While performing night carrier operations off the coast of Newfoundland, the minesweeper USS Hobson (DD-464) collides with the aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-18). The minesweeper breaks in half and within five minutes, 176 sailors perish in one of the Navy’s largest non-combat losses of life at sea.
[Adapted and abridged – in part – from W. Thomas Smith Jr.’s “This Week in American Military History” series at Human Events]
In: Military History · Tagged with: Civil War
1846: When Maj. Gen. (and future president) Zachary Taylor receives reports that Mexican forces – seeking to reclaim Texas – have crossed the Rio Grande, he dispatches two companies of dragoons (mounted infantry) to investigate. The American soldiers are ambushed by some 1,600 Mexican soldiers and those not killed are taken prisoner.
The Mexican-American War has begun.
1914: Navy lieutenant (future vice admiral) Patrick N.L. Bellinger flies the first naval combat mission when his AB-3 flying boat conducts reconnaissance of Veracruz and searches the Mexican harbor for mines. Bellinger also becomes the first American aviator to be fired upon by the enemy.
1944: When an Army Air Forces plane carrying wounded British soldiers goes down 100 miles behind Japanese lines in Burma, Lt. Carter Harmon conducts the first known military helicopter rescue. His YR-4B helicopter can carry only one passenger, so Harmon has to fly four trips to everyone back to safety.
1945: A U.S. Army reconnaissance patrol crosses the Elbe River and makes contact with a forward element of the Russian Guards. Germany is effectively split in two. Meanwhile, the Nazi occupation army in Italy surrenders and the last German troops in Finland evacuate.
World War II will be over in days.
1960: The nuclear-powered submarine USS Triton (SSRN 586) arrives at the St. Peter and Paul rocks in the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the first vessel to cross the globe submerged. Triton traveled 26,723 nautical miles in only 60 days.
In: Military History
[Originally published at OpsLens.com]
1781: A 2,500-man force of British and Hessian troops, led by Gen. William Phillips, lands at City Point, Va., joining with (notorious traitor) Gen. Benedict Arnold’s “American Legion.” The next morning, the combined force marches towards Petersburg, defended by Virginia militiamen under the command of Prussian Maj. Gen. Friederich Wilhelm von Steuben. After putting up several hours of fierce resistance, the outnumbered Americans disengage and Petersburg falls to the British.
1862: Adm. David Farragut’s squadron of 43 Union vessels fight past Confederate batteries at Forts Jackson and St. Philip in the Mississippi River at New Orleans and destroy most of the Confederate fleet upriver. The Union captures the crucial port city the following day – one of the worst setbacks for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
1942: The first B-29 “Superfortress” bomber flies “over the hump” (the Himalayan Mountains), airlifting supplies and ammunition from India to nationalist Chinese forces, following the Japanese capture of the Burma Road. Army Air Force bombers will begin bombing the Japanese mainland from forward air bases in China, but the “India-China Ferry” aircraft must fly seven transport missions over the hump for just one bombing raid. (more…)
In: Military History · Tagged with: Desert One, Hiroshi H. Miyamura
1863: Union cavalry troopers, led by Col. Benjamin Grierson, begin a two-week raid through Mississippi. Grierson’s raiders cut the state’s telegraph lines, destroy two train loads of Confederate ammunition, sabotage 50 miles of railroad, kill 100 and capture 500 Confederates – at the cost of three wounded, seven wounded, and 14 missing.
1915: German artillery near Gravenstafel, Belgium fires over 150 tons of chlorine gas on French forces, including French Colonial Moroccan and Algerian troops, in the first large-scale successful use of chemical weapons. Within moments, the toxic gas cloud inflicts about 6,000 casualties – including many of the German artillery troops. Some 2,000 Americans alone would die from chemical weapons during World War I, and the deadly new tactic inflicts half a million casualties by war’s end.
1942: The Coordinator of Information (predecessor to the Office of Strategic Services, and ultimately, the CIA) activates Detachment 101 – a special operations unit in Burma. The group collected intelligence, destroyed bridges, derailed trains, captured or destroyed enemy vehicles, located targets for the 10th Air Force, rescued downed Allied airmen, and most importantly, recruited and trained over 10,000 native troops for a highly effective guerrilla campaign against Japanese Forces. Detachment 101 and its OSS teams became the prototype for modern-day Special Forces (Army Green Berets). (more…)
In: Military History · Tagged with: Detachment 101, Korean War, World War I, World War II
1777: British Army forces commanded by Gen. William Tryon begin burning the village of Danbury, Conn. Much of the town is destroyed before Continental forces can arrive several days later.
1836: Texas Army forces led by Gen. Sam Houston surprise and decisively defeat Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna’s Mexican army in the Battle of San Jacinto. In 18 minutes, some 650 Mexicans lay dead while less than a dozen Texans are killed. The Mexican army surrenders and Texas secures its independence. Santa Anna is captured – hiding and dressed as a common soldier – the following day.
1898: Spain severs diplomatic relations with the United States and Pres. William McKinley orders the Naval blockade of Cuba, putting the United States on a war footing with Spain. The following day, the gunboat USS Nashville (PG-7) fires the first official shots of the war.
1940: U.S. Army Capt. Robert M. Losey becomes the first American casualty of World War II when he is killed by German bombing raid on a rail yard in Norway. Losey was attempting to evacuate U.S. personnel in the wake of the German invasion. Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring would apologize for the incident.
1951: Two Marine Corps aviators, including World War II ace Capt. Phillip DeLong from the USS Bataan (CVL-29) splash three Yak fighters and damage another in the first dogfight with North Korean pilots.
[Originally published at OpsLens.com]
In: Military History
1861: Col. Robert E. Lee, considered for a top command by Gen. Winfield Scott (whom Lee served as a chief aide during the Mexican-American War), and having just rejected an offer of command in the Confederate Army, reluctantly resigns his commission in the U.S. Army following the secession of his home state of Virginia. In three days, Lee takes command of Virginia state forces – one of the first five generals appointed to the Confederate Army.
Meanwhile, Norfolk Navy Yard is abandoned and burned by Union forces to prevent it from falling into enemy hands after Virgnia’s secession. The Confederates would do the same when they abandon the shipyard in May 1862.
1914: Following the arrest of U.S. sailors in Veracruz and the discovery of an illegal arms shipment from Germany to Gen. Victoriano Huerta’s regime, Pres. Woodrow Wilson obtains Congress’ approval to occupy the Mexican port. The following day, Marines and Naval “Bluejacket” infantry sieze the port and, supported by Naval gunfire, take the town. Marines will remain in Veracruz until November. (more…)
In: Military History
1775: An expedition of 700 British regulars under the command of Lt. Col. Frances Smith departs Boston to seize and destroy military stores of the Massachusetts Militia in Concord. At dawn, 70 militia members led by Capt. John Parker meet the British at Lexington, and the two sides briefly skirmish. The Americans withdraw and regroup, attacking the redcoats again at North Bridge with a much larger force, forcing the British to turn back towards Boston.
The American Revolution has begun.
1861: 86 years to the day after the “shot heard round the world,” Massachusetts volunteers headed for Washington, D.C. are attacked by a secessionist mob in Baltimore. Four soldiers and eight rioters die in the opening shots of the American Civil War.
Meanwhile, Pres. Abraham Lincoln orders a Naval blockade of Confederate ports in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The blockade is extended to North Carolina and Virginia the following week.
1945: Following the most massive artillery, Naval gunfire and air bombardment of the Pacific War, U.S. soldiers and Marines of the Tenth Army launch a coordinated ground assault against the dug-in Japanese defenders of the infamous Shuri Line on Okinawa. (more…)
In: Military History
1775: Paul Revere and William Dawes begin their famous “midnight ride” from Boston to Lexington, Mass., where they link-up with Samuel Prescott, who rides on to Concord. All three are sounding the alarm – warning town leaders and alerting the militia – that nearly 1,000 British infantrymen, grenadiers, and Royal Marines are advancing from Boston.
1942: Sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers led by U.S. Army Air Forces Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle launch from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the first raid against the Japanese mainland during World War II. The raid will be successful, but all aircraft will be lost. Eleven men will be killed or captured.
1943: P-38 “Lightning” fighters ambush the “Betty” bomber transporting Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, killing the commander-in-chief of the Japanese Navy.
1983: A suicide bomber crashes a truck carrying 2,000 lbs of explosives into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, setting off a blast that kills 63 people. Among the fallen are 17 Americans, including the CIA’s station chief, his deputy, and the agency’s regional director) and four service me
In: Military History
1861: Following the capture of Fort Sumter by Confederate forces, Pres. Abraham Lincoln issues a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers (at the time, the Army consisted of just 16,000 men) to quell the rebellion.
Four years to the day later, Lincoln would die from John Wilkes Booth mortally wounding him with a gunshot to the back of the head at Ford’s Theater.
1912: U.S. Navy scout cruisers USS Chester (CL-1) and USS Salem (CL-3) set out from Massachusetts to assist survivors of RMS Titanic
1947: Former platoon leader in the 761st “Black Panther” Tank Battalion Jackie Robinson breaks the “color barrier,” becoming the first black baseball player in the Major Leagues.
1961: B-26B Invader bombers, painted by the CIA to resemble Cuban Air Force planes, attack Cuban airfields in preparation for the upcoming Bay of Pigs Invasion. Under cover of darkness, a diversionary landing of 164 Cuban exiles, supported by U.S. Navy destroyers, departs for Baracoa, Cuba but turns around due to militia activity on the coast.
That same day, USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25) – America’s first nuclear-powered frigate – launches at Quincy, Mass. Together with the aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65) and cruiser Long Beach (CGN-9), the three nuclear-powered ships would sail non-stop around the world in 1964, covering over 30,000 miles in 65 days.
1962: Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 deploys to the Mekong Delta, becoming the first operational Marine Corps unit to serve in Vietnam.
In: Military History
1865: Four days after Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appamatox, famed actor John Wilkes Booth shoots and mortally wounds Pres. Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
1945: The Tirante (SS-240) torpedoes and sinks a Japanese ammunition ship in Cheju Harbor (modern-day South Korea). The explosion illuminates the surfaced Tirante, and as the sub rushes to escape the harbor, it launches its last two torpedoes, killing the two escort frigates in hot pursuit. Commander George L. Street is awarded the Medal of Honor for the engagement.
1969: Two North Korean Mig-21 fighters shoot down a Navy EC-121M “Warning Star” reconnaissance aircraft on an electronic intelligence-gathering mission against the Soviet Union. 30 sailors and one Marine perish in the largest single loss of life during an aircraft engagement during the Cold War.
1986: In response to a Libyan terrorist bombing in Berlin that killed two U.S. servicemen and wounded 79, Pres. Ronald Reagan orders airstrikes against Muammar Gaddafi. 45 Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft drop 60 tons of munitions on Libyan military targets. An Air Force F-111 “Aardvark” fighter-bomber is shot down by a surface to air missile – killing the two-man crew.
Western European governments denied the U.S. access to their airspace for the strike, forcing the F-111 crews based in England to fly around Spain. The route change added 13 hours of flight time and six mid-air refuelings, making Operation El Dorado Canyon the longest fighter mission in U.S. military history.
1988: The guided missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) strikes an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf, injuring ten sailors. In four days, the United States retaliates against Iran in the largest surface engagement since World War II.