Posted in Military History

9 April: This day in military history

Pfc. Ambrose

Today’s post is in honor of Pfc. Gregory F. Ambrose, who was killed during a firefight on 15 March 1968 in the Republic of Vietnam’s Gia Dinh province. Pfc. Ambrose had served in Vietnam for just under a year, assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V.”


1865: The war lost, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee concludes, “There is nothing left for me to do, but to go and see Gen. [Ulysses S.] Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.”

Lee formally surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at the home of Wilmer McLean in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Still-operating Confederate forces will surrender within months.

94th Aero Squadron pilots (left to right) Eddie Rickenbacker, Douglas Campbell, and Kenneth Marr in front of a Nieuport fighter. (U.S. Army image)

1918: The famed 94th “Hat in the Ring” Aero Squadron moves up to the Croix de Metz Aerodrome in France, becoming the first American aviation outfit to enter combat. In May, Lt. Douglas Campbell becomes the first American-trained pilot to earn “ace” status, and fellow squadron mate Lt. Eddie Rickenbacker – who will ultimately become America’s top flying ace of World War I – scores his fifth victory in June.

1942: Having run out of food, ammunition, and supplies after months of fighting the Japanese, Maj. Gen. Edward P. King surrenders over 11,000 American and 60,000 Filipino forces under his command on Luzon Island to the Japanese. Immediately after the fall of Bataan, the Japanese begin bombarding Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright and some 10,000 troops now isolated on the island fortress of Corregidor, who will manage to hold out for a month before they must surrender as well. Continue reading “9 April: This day in military history”

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3 April: Today in U.S. military history

The Martin B-57A Canberra. (U.S. Air Force photo)

1865: A day after the Confederate government evacuates by rail, Union troops march into the Confederate capital of Richmond, Va. Retreating Soldiers and citizens set buildings on fire as they depart, and the conflagration will consume some 35 blocks of Richmond. It takes Union soldiers until the afternoon to contain the blaze. President Abraham Lincoln tours the captured city the next day.

The Civil War will be over in just six days.

1942: Japan’s 14th Army, led by Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma, launches a major offensive against American and Filipino forces on the Bataan Peninsula. In six days, the 75,000 defenders, already weakened by starvation and disease, will have no choice but to surrender to the Japanese.

1946: Gen. Homma is convicted of nearly 50 counts of war crimes for his troops’ treatment of prisoners in the Bataan Death March, and is executed by firing squad. Continue reading “3 April: Today in U.S. military history”

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20 March: This Day in U.S. Military History

1863: Confederate cavalry under the command of the famous — some might argue, infamous — Kentucky raider, Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan, strikes a sizeable Union reconnaissance force under Col. Albert S. Hall at Vaught’s Hill, Tennessee. Though outnumbered and surrounded, Hall’s hilltop position enables the colonel to beat back a series of attacks until Morgan — learning that Hall is to be reinforced with additional U.S. troops from Murfreesboro — is forced to disengage.

Though Vaught’s Hill was a defeat for Morgan, he was far from whipped.

1922: America’s first aircraft carrier, USS Langley (CV-1), is commissioned at Norfolk, Virginia. Converted from the coaling ship USS Jupiter that supplied ships during World War I, the “Covered Wagon” will again see action as a seaplane tender during World War II. But she will be so badly damaged in an action off Java in 1942, her escorts will be forced to scuttle her. Continue reading “20 March: This Day in U.S. Military History”

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20 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. Steven Checo, who was killed during a firefight in Ivo Shkin, Afghanistan on this day in 2002. The 22-year-old soldier from Bronx, N.Y. was assigned to D Company, 2d Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C..


1803: A mere three weeks after accepting the territory from the Spanish, the French officially hand over New Orleans, the colonial capital of Louisiana, to the Americans. For less than three cents per acre, the United States has doubled in size, adding 828,000 square miles of territory west of the Mississippi River.

Flag-raising ceremony at the Place d’Armes (renamed Jackson Square following the War of 1812) in New Orleans, painting by Thure de Thulstrup

1860: Delegates meeting in Charleston, S.C. unanimously adopt the ordinance to dissolve ties with the United States. South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the Union. Continue reading “20 December: Today in U.S. military history”

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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”