Posted in Military History

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”

Posted in Military History

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”

Posted in Military History

15 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Gunnery Sgt. Justin E. Schmalstieg who was killed while defusing a roadside bomb he in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on this day in 2010. The 28-year-old Pittsburgh native had served three tours in Iraq and was on his first deployment to Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton, Calif.


1791: The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States, become law.

1862: Union Army Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside ends his disastrous series of frontal attacks against Gen. Robert E. Lee’s well-entrenched Confederate forces along Marye’s Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg. It is during the battle that Lee – emotionally moved by the valor of the Federal Army, which, despite terrible losses, attacks his impregnable position time-and-again – says, “It is well that war is so terrible, lest we grow too fond of it.”

1864: Gen. John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee is routed in the Battle of Nashville by a Union army under command of Gen. George Thomas. After the battle, Hood’s once-formidable army would no longer be an effective fighting force. Continue reading “15 December: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in World War II Chronicle

World War II Chronicle: 15 December 1941

Col. William Jeffers, CSA

Headlines from today’s edition, which can be read below:

  • Defenders of Luzon Check Japs
  • Enemy Loses 15 Vessels
  • Germans Flee as Soviet Drives On
  • C.A. Wills, Veteran of Civil War, Dies; Native of County
  • U.S. May Expect Air Attacks Along East, West Seaboards

Columbus Alexander “Alec” Wills (see page 2) served in Col. William Jeffers’ 8th Missouri Cavalry, which the Mexican-American War veteran raised in the fall of 1862 and recruited heavily from Cape Girardeau County. They rode with Confederate Generals John Marmaduke and Sterling Price, participating in battles across Missouri and Arkansas. As the article states, Wills lived his entire life on the family farm in Oak Ridge, Mo. excepting his time in Confederate service. He lived to be 95 years old.

The AP “War Bulletins” section on the front page references German long-range artillery targeting the Dover area. The Germans installed a number of coastal defense batteries (originally intended for battleships) along the Dover Strait, featuring cannons ranging from 8.3-inch to the 16-inch “Adolf cannons” which at this point of the war were about to be shipped over from Poland. The Adolf Cannon could fire a 1,300-lb. long-range projectile named the “Adolf shell” that could hit targets 75 miles away (the strait is just over 20 miles at its narrowest point). Continue reading “World War II Chronicle: 15 December 1941”

Posted in Military History

23 November: Today in U.S. military history

A Marine from 1st Marine Division uses a flamethrower to clear a path through what was once a thick jungle in Tarawa – 1943 (USMC photo)

1863:The battles of the Chattanooga campaign begin between newly appointed commander of the Western armies, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg.

Within days, Union Army​ forces will attack and capture Orchard Knob, Lookout Mountain, and the Confederate works on Missionary Ridge​. The “Gateway to the Lower South” will open, and within a year, Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman​ will pass through the “gateway” en route to Atlanta.

1943: Japanese-held Tarawa falls to American forces despite the boast of its defending commander, Rear Adm. Keiji Shibasaki​, that “a million men could not take Tarawa in a hundred years.” It takes several thousand Marines and about 76 hours to seize Tarawa.

Makin Atoll, 100 miles north of Tarawa, is also declared secure. Continue reading “23 November: Today in U.S. military history”