June 22 in U.S. military history

Col Theodore Roosevelt stands triumphant on San Juan Hill, Cuba after his “Rough Riders” captured this hill and its sister Kettle Hill during the Spanish American War. (Library of Congress photo)

1807: Off the coast of Norfolk, Va., the British frigate HMS Leopard attacks the American vessel USS Chesapeake, forcing Commodore James Barron to surrender the ship after only managing to fire one shot. Four Americans are dead and 17 wounded in the attack, and the British board Chesapeake, taking four British deserters. The British impress thousands of American sailors into their service during the Napoleonic War, but “Chesapeake-Leopard Affair” outrages the Americans and will lead to the War of 1812.

1813: Some 2,000 Royal Marines and British soldiers attempt to attack the American fortifications at Craney Island, guarding Hapton Roads, Va. But unlike the crew of the Chesapeake six years ago (which in fact, took place near the site of Craney Island), the defenders are prepared – and repel the invasion. The American guns inflict 200 casualties in one of the first engagements of the War of 1812.

1865: The Confederate commerce raider CSS Shenandoah fires the last shot of the Civil War – a warning shot at a U.S. whaling vessel in the Bering Straight. Shenandoah captured 38 ships and some 1,000 sailors during the Civil War, and becomes the only Confederate ship to circumnavigate the globe when it sails to England to surrender – marking the last time the Confederate colors are struck.

1884: After three years of being stranded by ice in the Canadian Arctic, a rescue expedition led by Cmdr. Winfield S. Schley finds Lt. Adolphus W. Greely and six of his men from the ill-fated Lady Franklin Bay Expedition. 16 of Greely’s men had perished from hypothermia, starvation, drowning, and one man was ordered shot for repeatedly stealing food rations.

1898: The “Rough Riders” of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, led by Col. Leonard Wood and Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, begin landing at Daiquiri, Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

1944: Following a preparatory airstrike, the U.S. 7th Corps launches an assault against German forces at the French town of Cherbourg. The Allies meet stiff resistance at first, but 30,000 German defenders will surrender after a week of fighting. The Germans and Allies take heavy casualties – with both sides losing 8,000 soldiers killed in action or missing apiece.

1963: Four ballistic missile submarines are launched in one day – USS Tecumseh (SSBN-628), USS Daniel Boone (SSBN-629), USS Flasher (SSN-613), and USS John Calhoun (SSBN-630). The James Madison-class subs each carry 16 of the new Polaris A-3 nuclear missiles, with a range of 2,500 nautical miles.

Posted on June 22, 2017 at 10:55 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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May 1 in U.S. military history

1898: U.S. Navy Commodore George Dewey’s Asiatic Squadron steams single file into Manila Bay and destroys the out-armored and out-gunned Spanish fleet in the Philippines. Despite the support of shore batteries, the Spanish lose all seven of their vessels and only six American sailors are wounded. The Spanish-American War will effectively end in August, and Spain will cede control of the islands to the United States.

1943: When his B-17 bomber is hit by German flak and Sgt. Maynard H. “Snuffy” Smith loses power in his ball turret gun, he climbs out to assist the other members of the crew. The explosion started a fire started in the fuselage and three of the airmen had already bailed out. He treats two severely wounded comrades and begins fighting the fire that was melting holes in the aircraft. For the next 90 minutes, Smith alternates between caring for the wounded, extinguishing the fire, and manning the .50 caliber guns against attacking German fighters. The plane makes it safely back to England, but breaks in half upon landing from the fire and 3,500 bullets and pieces of shrapnel.

1960: CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers (former Captain, USAF) takes off from a military airbase in Pakistan on a reconnaissance overflight mission of the Soviet Union. His U-2 spy plane, flying some 70,000 feet above Russia, is hit by a surface-to-air missile and crashes into the Ural Mountains. Powers ejects safely and is held in a Soviet prison until his famous exchange on a Berlin bridge nearly two years later.

2003: George W. Bush becomes the first president to make an arrested landing when the S-3 Viking dubbed “Navy One” touches down on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) following its 10-month combat deployment. Bush delivers a speech on the deck of the aircraft carrier announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq.

Although the insurgency would drag on for years, the 21-day conventional campaign against Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime is over.

Apr. 21 in U.S. military history

An AU-1 Corsair, similar in appearance to the F4U-F fighter that Capt. DeLong used to knock out two Yaks and damage a third in 1951.

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]

Today in military history: Remember the Maine!

U.S. Navy diving crew at work on the ship's wreck, in 1898, seen from aft looking forward. (Source: Naval History & Heritage Command)

On Feb. 15, 1898, the second-class battleship USS Maine exploded in the Havana (Cuba) Harbor, killing over 260 sailors and Marines. The cause of the explosion was initially determined to be a mine, and the incident became a catalyst for the Spanish-American War, which was declared in April.

Posted on February 15, 2011 at 11:09 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Navy takes delivery of USS New York

The Navy took delivery of the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York, which contains 7 1/2 tons of steel from the World Trade Center. The AP reports that the New York will sail down the Mississippi River in October.

This is the sixth so-named American vessel. The first USS New York was a gondola built on Lake Champlain in 1776.

The second was built in and also funded by the citizens of New York City. The 36-gun frigate served as the flagship during the First Barbary War before being burned by the British in 1814.

The third was laid in 1820 but never finished. The 74-gun ship of the line was burned in 1861 to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Confederates.

The bow of the fourth USS New York (CA-2) on display at the Intrepid Museum in New York City

The bow of the fourth USS New York (CA-2) on display at the Intrepid Museum in New York City

The fourth was commissioned in 1893 and served as the flagship for Admiral Samson during the Battle of Santiago when the American Squadron destroyed the Spanish fleet in 1898.

The fifth saw service in both World War I, where it was present during the surrender of the German Fleet in 1918, and World War II, where it saw action in the Atlantic.

More info available at Great White Fleet

Military Milestones from Pickett’s Charge to Roosevelt’s Rough Riders

By W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

Originally published at Human Events

This week in American military history:

Col Theodore Roosevelt stands triumphant on San Juan Hill, Cuba after his "Rough Riders" captured this hill and its sister Kettle Hill during the Spanish American War. (Library of Congress photo)

Col Theodore Roosevelt stands triumphant on San Juan Hill, Cuba after his “Rough Riders” captured this hill and its sister Kettle Hill during the Spanish American War. (Library of Congress photo)

June 28, 1776: In what has been described as the “first decisive victory of American forces over the British Navy” during the American Revolution, the garrison at Fort Sullivan, S.C. (today Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island in Charleston harbor) under the command of militia Col. William Moultrie repulse Royal Navy forces under the command of Admiral Sir Peter Parker.

The 12-plus hour battle begins around 9 a.m. when Parker’s ships open fire on the fort; many of the British shells sinking harmlessly into the soft palmetto logs of which the fort is constructed. The ships, on the other hand, (some of which run aground on the harbor’s shoals) are constructed of oak, which Moultrie’s artillerists quickly shatter, sending deadly splinters into the unfortunate British crews.

Moultrie is destined to become a Maj. Gen. in the Continental Army and a S.C. governor. And S.C. will forever be known as the “Palmetto State.”

(Incidentally: This author’s five-times great grandfather, Capt. Thomas Woodward — commanding a company of S.C. Rangers on Moultrie’s extreme left — helps thwart an attempt by Royal Marines to land on the island.)

June 28, 1778: The Battle of Monmouth, N.J. is fought between Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army (including the legendary Molly Pitcher) and British forces under Gen. Sir Henry Clinton. Though tactically inconclusive, the battle is a strategic victory for the Americans who prove they can go toe-to-toe with the British Army in a large pitched battle.

(more…)