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19 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Pfc. Charles E. Bush Jr. who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Balad, Iraq on this day in 2003. Bush, a 43-year-old cook from Buffalo, N.Y., had volunteered for assignment as a door gunner with the 402d Civil Affairs Battalion, 354th Civil Affairs Brigade, 352nd Civil Affairs Command and was supposed to be home in time for Christmas.

1777: 18 miles northwest of Philadelphia, Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army establishes its winter camp at Valley Forge. 2,500 of the original force of 12,000 would not survive the winter thanks in part to harsh weather conditions, disease, supply shortages, and malnutrition. Over the winter, the Prussian drillmaster – later, Washington’s Chief of Staff – Baron Friedrich von Steuben drills the Americans, greatly increasing their combat effectiveness and morale.

1862: Confederate cavalry under Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest dismantle the Mobile and Ohio railroad tracks around Jackson, Tenn., delaying Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s drive to Vicksburg.

1941: After the Battle of Moscow, Adolf Hitler fires Field Marshall Walther von Brauchitsch, the commander-in-chief of Nazi Germany’s armed forces for their highly successful campaigns across most of Europe. Hitler appoints himself as von Brauchitsch’s replacement. Continue reading “19 December: Today in U.S. military history”

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16 December: Today in U.S. military history

1773: Disguised as Mohawk Indians, dozens of members of the underground revolutionary organization Sons of Liberty board three vessels loaded with tea tied up in Griffin’s Wharf. Over the next three hours, the patriots dump 350-lb. crates of tea, dubbed “the seeds of slavery,” into Boston Harbor. This incident leads the British Parliament to pass the Coercive Acts (or the “Intolerable Acts” as they were called in the American colonies), which fanned the flames of revolution even further.

Some of the more notable members of the Sons of Liberty include Samuel Adams (founder and cousin of future president John Adams), Benedict Arnold, Patrick Henry, and Paul Revere.

1907: 16 battleships depart Hampton Roads, Va. on the first leg of their circumnavigation of the globe. The “Great White Fleet,” so-named because the warships — all constructed after the Spanish-American War — were painted white, sail over 43,000 miles during their 14-month trip, which includes port calls on six continents.

1944: A massive German Army force — composed of SS Panzer (SS armored units), Volksgrenadier (infantry), Panzergrenadier (armored infantry), and Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers) — burst through the snow-covered Ardennes Forest and smash headlong into the weakest stretch of the Allied frontlines in Belgium. Continue reading “16 December: Today in U.S. military history”

Bell X-1A, Chuck Yeager, USAF
Posted in Military History

12 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. Jarrod W. Black, who was killed by an improvised explosive device on this day in 2003 in Ramadi, Iraq. Black, 26, of Peru, Ind. was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment.

1753: 21-year-old Virginia adjutant George Washington delivers an ultimatum for French forces to abandon Fort Le Boeuf (present-day Waterford, Penn.) as they were trespassing on British territory. Lt. Christopher Gist, Washington’s guide, would save the future president’s life twice during their trip through the Ohio Country.

1770: Six British soldiers charged with murder for their role in the Boston Massacre are acquitted thanks to their counselor, future president John Adams. He argued that they were endangered by the mob and had the right to defend themselves. Of the eight soldiers and one officer to stand trial (Capt. Thomas Preston had been acquitted in October), two are found guilty of manslaughter and are branded on the thumb.

“Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently,” Adams wrote. “As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right. This however is no Reason why the Town should not call the Action of that Night a Massacre, nor is it any Argument in favour of the Governor or Minister, who caused them to be sent here. But it is the strongest Proofs of the Danger of Standing Armies.”

Continue reading “12 December: Today in U.S. military history”

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4 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. John J. Savage, who on this day in 2008, died of wounds from an improvised explosive device attack on his vehicle in Mosul, Iraq. The 26-year-old from Weatherford, Texas was assigned to the 103rd Engineer Company, 94th Engineer Battalion and was serving his second Iraq deployment.

1783: Nine days after the British evacuate New York City, Gen. George Washington bids farewell to his fellow Continental Army officers over a turtle feast at Fraunces Tavern. Washington tells them: “With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.”

1861: Jefferson Davis is elected President of the Confederate States of America. Previously, Davis served as a junior officer in the U.S. Army following graduation from the U.S. Military Academy. During the Mexican-American War, he raised a volunteer infantry regiment and became its colonel. President James Polk will offer Davis a federal commission as brigadier general, which he will turn down. Continue reading “4 December: Today in U.S. military history”

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7 October: Today in U.S. military history


Today’s post is in honor of CWO3 Bryan L. Ellis (USA) and Cpl. Steven Crowley (USMC) who were killed when Islamic terrorists stormed the United States Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan on 21 November 1979. Crowley (20, from Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.), of the Marine Security Guard was posthumously promoted to sergeant and awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V.” Ellis (29, from Swansboro, N.C.) had served with the 117th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam.

1777: Continental forces under the command of Gen. Horatio Gates​ decisively defeat British forces under Gen. John “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne in the Second Battle of Saratoga (also known as the Battle of Bemis Heights​).

According to the National Parks Service, “This crucial American victory renewed patriots’ hopes for independence, secured essential foreign recognition and support, and forever changed the face of the world.”

But the war is far from over.

1780: Three years to the day after Second Saratoga, patriot militia forces armed with rifles, knives, and tomahawks decisively defeat musket-armed Loyalist militia under the command of British Army Maj. Patrick Ferguson​ (who will be killed in the fighting) in the bloody Battle of King’s Mountain on the border between North and South Carolina.

Among the patriots is John Crockett, father of Davy Crockett​.

1864: After the U.S. Navy has spent months chasing the Confederate raider USS Florida, the crew of the sloop-of-war USS Wachusett spots the enemy cruiser in Bahia, Brazil. Cmdr. Napoleon Collins illegally attacks Florida in the pre-dawn hours while the Confederate captain was ashore, ramming the enemy ship before opening fire. The Confederate lieutenant left in charge of the vessel surrenders to Collins, who tows the prize out of Bahia under fire from Brazilian coastal guns.

Upon his return to the United States, Collins is court-martialed (Florida was harbored in a neutral country), but the charges are dismissed. Florida, which captured 37 ships before falling into Federal hands, mysteriously sinks before she can be returned to the Brazilians and Collins goes on to become a rear admiral, commanding the South Pacific Fleet. Continue reading “7 October: Today in U.S. military history”