This day in Military History
1711 – The Tuscarora Indian War began with a massacre of settlers in North Carolina, following white encroachment that included the enslaving of Indian children.
1776 – In New York City, Nathan Hale, a Connecticut schoolteacher and captain in the Continental Army, is executed by the British for spying. A graduate of Yale University, Hale joined a Connecticut regiment in 1775 and served in the successful siege of British-occupied Boston. In the summer of 1776, he crossed behind British lines on Long Island in civilian clothes to spy on the British. While returning with the intelligence information, British soldiers captured Hale near the American lines and charged him with espionage. Taken to New York, he was hanged without trial the next day. Before being executed, legend holds that Hale said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” There is no historical record to prove that Hale actually made this statement, but if he did he may have been inspired by the lines in English author Joseph Addison’s 1713 play Cato: “What a pity it is/That we can die but once to serve our country.”
1776 – John Paul Jones in Providence sails into Canso Bay, Nova Scotia, and attacks British fishing fleet.
1855 – Marines and Seamen landed in Fiji Islands.
1862 – Motivated by his growing concern for the inhumanity of slavery as well as practical political concerns, President Abraham Lincoln changes the course of the war and American history by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. Announced a week after the nominal Union victory at the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), this measure did not technically free any slaves, but it redefined the Union’s war aim from reunification to the abolition of slavery. The proclamation announced that all slaves in territory that was still in rebellion as of January 1, 1863, would be free. Lincoln used vacated congressional seats to determine the areas still in rebellion, as some parts of the South had already been recaptured and representatives returned to Congress under Union supervision. Since it freed slaves only in Rebel areas that were beyond Union occupation, the Emancipation Proclamation really freed no one. But the measure was still one of the most important acts in American history, as it meant slavery would end when those areas were recaptured. In addition, the proclamation effectively sabotaged Confederate attempts to secure recognition by foreign governments, especially Great Britain. When reunification was the goal of the North, foreigners could view the Confederates as freedom fighters being held against their will by the Union. But after the Emancipation Proclamation, the Southern cause was now viewed as the defense of slavery. The proclamation was a shrewd maneuver by Lincoln to brand the Confederate States as a slave nation and render foreign aid impossible. The measure was met by a good deal of opposition, because many Northerners were unwilling to fight for the freedom of blacks. But it spelled the death knell for slavery, and it had the effect on British opinion that Lincoln had desired. Antislavery Britain could no longer recognize the Confederacy, and Union sentiment swelled in Britain. With this measure, Lincoln effectively isolated the Confederacy and killed the institution that was the root of sectional differences.
1863 – Acting Master David Nichols and a crew of 19 Confederate seamen captured Army tug Leviathan before dawn at South West pass, Mississippi River, but were taken prisoner later that morning when U.S.S. De Soto, Captain W. M. Walker, recaptured the prize in the Gulf of Mexico some 40 miles off shore. Nichols and his men had departed Mobile 2 or 3 days before in the small cutter Teaser. Reaching South West Pass, they pulled the cutter into the marshes and made their way on foot to the coal wharf where Leviathan lay. They seized the tug, described by Captain Walker as a new and very fast screw steamer, amply supplied with coal and provisions for a cruise,” and put to sea at once. Shortly thereafter, Commodore Bell ordered Navy ships in pursuit. At midmorning, U.S.S. De Soto fired three shots at the tug and brought her to.
1863 – Expedition under Acting Master George W. Ewer from U.S.S. Seneca destroyed the Hudson Place Salt Works near Darien, Georgia. Ewer reported that the works, producing some 10 or 15 bushels of salt a day, were now “completely useless.”
1864 – Union General Philip Sheridan defeated Confederate General Jubal Early’s troops at the Battle of Fisher’s Hill, in Virginia. Gen Early
retreated to Brown’s Gap. Sheridan set up camp in Harrisonburg, Va.
1940 – The Vichy government concludes an agreement permitting Japan to station troops and use facilities in Tonkin (northern Vietnam). Allegedly ignorant of the new agreement, Japanese troops cross the border from China and attack and take French-held Langson and Dong Dang after heavy fighting. The French order a halt to all resistance. Although the French administrative machinery is left intact to “rule,’ the Japanese by degrees consolidate their position until by opening of the general Asian War in December 1941, Vietnam is a virtual colony of Japan, and remains so for the duration of WWII.
1943 – The US 5th Army is preparing to advance in Italy.
1943 – The invasion of Finschafen, New Guinea: an Allied invasion fleet, including Coast Guard-manned landing ships, landed Australian troops at Finschafen. Coast Guard-manned ships in the invasion fleet included USSs LST-18, LST-67, LST-168, and LST-204. There were no casualties among the Coast Guard LSTs.
1944 – On Peleliu, US 3rd Amphibious Corps (Geiger) deploys a regiment of US 81st Infantry Division to replace depleted elements of the US 1st Marine Division. The marines have suffered heavy casualties in attacks on Mount Umurbrogol.
1944 – US Task Force 38 conducts air strikes on Japanese targets on Luzon, particularly Manila and Manila Bay. Twelve American carriers are involved.
1945 – President Truman accepted U.S. Secretary of War Stimson’s recommendation to designate the war World War II.
1945 – Gen. George S. Patton tells reporters that he does not see the need for “this denazification thing” and compares the controversy over Nazism to a “Democratic and Republican election fight.” Once again, “Old Blood and Guts” had put his foot in his mouth. Descended from a long line of military men, Patton graduated from the West Point Military Academy in 1909 and served in the Tank Corps during World War I. As a result of this experience, Patton became a dedicated proponent of tank warfare. During World War II, as commander of the U.S. 7th Army, he captured Palermo, Sicily, in 1943 by just such means. Patton’s audacity made itself evident in 1944, when, as commander of the 3rd Army, he overran much of northern France in an unorthodox–and ruthless–strategy. Along the way, Patton’s mouth proved as dangerous to his career as the Germans. When he berated and slapped a hospitalized soldier diagnosed with shell shock, but whom Patton accused of “malingering,” the press turned on him, and pressure was applied to cut him down to size. He might have found himself enjoying early retirement had not Generals Dwight Eisenhower and George Marshall intervened on his behalf. After several months of inactivity, he was put back to work. And work he did–at the Battle of the Bulge, during which Patton once again succeeded in employing a complex and quick-witted strategy, turning the German thrust in Bastogne into an Allied counterthrust, driving the Germans east across the Rhine. In March 1945, Patton’s army swept through southern Germany into Czechoslovakia–which he was stopped by the Allies from capturing, out of respect for the Soviets’ postwar political plans for Eastern Europe. Patton had many gifts, but diplomacy was not one of them. After the war, while stationed in Germany, he criticized the process of denazification, or the removal of former Nazi party members from positions of political, administrative, and governmental power, probably out of naiveté more than anything else. Nevertheless, his impolitic press statements questioning the policy resulted in Eisenhower’s removing him as U.S. commander in Bavaria. He was transferred to the 15th Army Group, but in December 1945 he suffered a broken neck in a car accident and died less than two weeks later at the age of 60.
1945 – The 5thMarDiv landed at Sasebo, Japan, for occupation duty.
1950 – Omar N. Bradley was promoted to the rank of five-star general, joining an elite group that included Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, George C. Marshall and Henry H. “Hap” Arnold.
1950 – Eighth Army completed its breakout from the Pusan Perimeter. Outflanked by the Inchon invasion in the north and under relentless pressure of the U.N. Forces’ attack from the south, the In Mun Gun began a wholesale withdrawal to the north.
1951 – The 2nd Infantry Division’s struggle for Heartbreak Ridge continued. By the time the battle was over Oct. 15, 1951, the division has suffered 3,700 casualties.
1958 – The nuclear submarine USS Skate remained a record 31 days under the North Pole.
1971 – Captain Ernest Medina is acquitted of all charges relating to the My Lai massacre of March 1968. His unit, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade (Light) of the 23rd (Americal) Division, was charged with the murder of over 200 Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, at My Lai 4, a cluster of hamlets that made up Son My village in Son Tinh District in Quang Ngai Province in the coastal lowlands of I Corps Tactical Zone. Medina had been charged with murder, manslaughter, and assault. All charges were dropped when the military judge at the Medina’s court martial made an error in instructing the jury. After the charges were dropped, Medina subsequently resigned from the service. There were 13 others charged with various crimes in conjunction with the My Lai massacre, but only one, Lt. William Calley, was found guilty. Calley was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 22 civilians, but his sentence was reduced first to 20 years, then 10 years, and he was ultimately paroled by President Nixon in November 1974, after having served about one-third of his sentence.
1987 – U.S. forces attack an Iranian mine-laying vessel in the Persian Gulf.
1989 – After Hurricane Hugo, Sailors and Marines provide assistance to Charleston, SC, through 10 October.
1990 – The second port security unit, PSU 301, was deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield.
1994 – The United States stepped up its military control of Haiti, breaking up heavy weapons, guarding pro-democracy activists and giving U.S. troops more leeway to use force.
1997 – President Clinton, addressing the United Nations, told world leaders to “end all nuclear tests for all time” as he sent the long-delayed global test-ban treaty to the Senate.
2001 – President Bush consulted at length with Russian President Vladimir Putin as the United States mustered a military assault on terrorism in the wake of Sept. 11.
2004 – Suicide attackers detonated a car bomb near an Iraqi National Guard recruiting center in west Baghdad, killing at least six people and injuring 54. US aircraft and tanks attacked Shiite militia positions in fierce fighting in Baghdad’s Sadr City slum, killing 10 people and injuring 92 others.
2006 – The U.S. military officially retires the F-14 Tomcat having been supplanted by the Boeing F/A-18E and F Super Hornets. The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a fourth-generation, supersonic, twinjet, two-seat, and variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. The Tomcat was developed for the United States Navy’s Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program following the collapse of the F-111B project. The F-14 was the first of the American teen-series fighters, which were designed incorporating the experience of air combat against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War. The F-14 first flew in December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), replacing the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy’s primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor and tactical reconnaissance platform. In the 1990s, it added the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod system and began performing precision ground-attack missions. As of 2014, the F-14 was in service with only the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, having been exported to Iran in 1976, when the U.S. had amicable diplomatic relations with Iran.
2011 – The Anniston Chemical Activity destroys its last mustard gas shells, becoming the fifth of nine US chemical weapons depots to close under terms of the Chemical Weapons Treaty.
CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR CITATIONS FOR ACTIONS TAKEN THIS DAY
Rank and organization: Private, Company E, 43d New York Infantry. Place and date: At Fishers Hill, Va., 22 September 1864. Entered service at:——. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 6 October 1864. Citation: Capture of flag.
Rank and organization: Private, Company D, 23d Illinois Infantry. Place and date: At Fishers Hill, Va., 22 September 1864. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 6 October 1864. Citation: Capture of flag.
MOORE, GEORGE G.
Rank and organization: Private, Company D, 11th West Virginia Infantry. Place and date: At Fishers Hill, Va., 22 September 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Tyler County W. Va. Date of issue: 6 October 1864. Citation: Capture of flag.
RHODES, SYLVESTER D.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company D, 61st Pennsylvania Infantry. Place and date: At Fishers Hill, Va., 22 September 1864. Entered service at: Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Birth: Plains, Pa. Date of issue: 16 February 1897. Citation: Was on the skirmish line which drove the enemy from the first entrenchment and was the first man to enter the breastworks, capturing one of the guns and turning it upon the enemy.
WHITTIER, EDWARD N.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 5th Battery, Maine Light Artillery. Place and date: At Fishers Hill, Va., 22 September 1864. Entered service at: Gorham, Maine. Birth: Portland, Maine. Date of issue: 13 January 1892. Citation: While acting as assistant adjutant general, Artillery brigade, 6th Army Corps, went over the enemy’s works, mounted, with the assaulting column, to gain quicker possession of the guns and to turn them upon the enemy.
Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 1839, Boston, Mass. Accredited to: Massachusetts. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Tigress, Willis displayed gallant and meritorious conduct on the night of 22 September 1873 off the coast of Greenland.
BLOCH, ORVILLE EMIL
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company E, 338th Infantry, 85th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Firenzuola, Italy, 22 September 1944. Entered service at: Streeter, N. Dak. Birth: Big Falls, Wis. G.O. No.: 9, 10 February 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Bloch undertook the task of wiping out 5 enemy machinegun nests that had held up the advance in that particular sector for 1 day. Gathering 3 volunteers from his platoon, the patrol snaked their way to a big rock, behind which a group of 3 buildings and 5 machinegun nests were located. Leaving the 3 men behind the rock, he attacked the first machinegun nest alone charging into furious automatic fire, kicking over the machinegun, and capturing the machinegun crew of 5. Pulling the pin from a grenade, he held it ready in his hand and dashed into the face of withering automatic fire toward this second enemy machinegun nest located at the corner of an adjacent building 15 yards distant. When within 20 feet of the machinegun he hurled the grenade, wounding the machinegunner, the other 2 members of the crew fleeing into a door of the house. Calling one of his volunteer group to accompany him, they advanced to the opposite end of the house, there contacting a machinegun crew of 5 running toward this house. 1st Lt Bloch and his men opened fire on the enemy crew, forcing them to abandon this machinegun and ammunition and flee into the same house. Without a moment’s hesitation, 1st Lt. Bloch, unassisted, rushed through the door into a hail of small-arms fire, firing his carbine from the hip, and captured the 7 occupants, wounding 3 of them. 1st Lt. Bloch with his men then proceeded to a third house where they discovered an abandoned enemy machinegun and detected another enemy machinegun nest at the next corner of the building. The crew of 6 spotted 1st Lt. Bloch the instant he saw them. Without a moment’s hesitation he dashed toward them. The enemy fired pistols wildly in his direction and vanished through a door of the house, 1st Lt. Bloch following them through the door, firing his carbine from the hip, wounding 2 of the enemy and capturing 6. Altogether 1st Lt. Bloch had single-handedly captured 19 prisoners, wounding 6 of them and eliminating a total of 5 enemy machinegun nests. His gallant and heroic actions saved his company many casualties and permitted them to continue the attack with new inspiration and vigor.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 45th Infantry Division. Place and date: At Oliveto, Italy, 22 September 1943. Entered service at: Tulsa, Okla. Birth: Broken Arrow, Okla. G.O. No.: 30, 8 April 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action on 22 September 1943, at Oliveto, Italy. Although 2d Lt. Childers previously had just suffered a fractured instep he, with 8 enlisted men, advanced up a hill toward enemy machinegun nests. The group advanced to a rock wall overlooking a cornfield and 2d Lt. Childers ordered a base of fire laid across the field so that he could advance. When he was fired upon by 2 enemy snipers from a nearby house he killed both of them. He moved behind the machinegun nests and killed all occupants of the nearer one. He continued toward the second one and threw rocks into it. When the 2 occupants of the nest raised up, he shot 1. The other was killed by 1 of the 8 enlisted men. 2d Lt. Childers continued his advance toward a house farther up the hill, and single-handed, captured an enemy mortar observer. The exceptional leadership, initiative, calmness under fire, and conspicuous gallantry displayed by 2d Lt. Childers were an inspiration to his men.