1607 – Ships under the command of Capt. Christopher Newport sought shelter in Chesapeake Bay. The forced landing led to the founding of Jamestown on the James River, the first English settlement. An expedition of English colonists, including Capt. John Smith, went ashore at Cape Henry, Va., to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere.
1655 – Dutch West Indies Co. denied Peter Stuyvesant’s desire to exclude Jews from New Amsterdam.
1718 – Esek Hopkins, first U.S. commander-in-chief, was born.
1777 – Sybil Ludington (16) rode from NY to Ct rallying her father’s militia.
1805 – First Barbary War: United States Marines captured Derne under the command of First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon and former Consul to Tunis, William Eaton. The Battle of Derne was the decisive victory of a mercenary army led by a detachment of United States Marines and United States Army soldiers against the forces of Ottoman Tripolitania during the First Barbary War. It was the first recorded land battle the United States fought overseas. U.S. forces and mercenaries marched for 600 miles (970 km) through the desert to attack Derne.
1827 – Charles Edward Hovey, Bvt Major General (Union volunteers), was born.
1856 – Some 20 settlers of Honey Lake Valley, California, met at the cabin of Isaac Roop and formed “the independent Territory of Nataqua.” They named the cabin Fort Defiance, chose Peter Lassen as their surveyor and selected Susanville, named after Roop’s daughter, as the territorial capital.
1862 – Fort Macon, North Carolina, surrendered to combined land-sea forces under Commander Lock¬wood and Brigadier General John G. Parke. U.S.S. Daylight, State of Georgia, Chippewa, and Gemsbok heavily bombarded the fort; blockade runners Alliance and Gondar were captured after the fort’s surrender.
1865 – Confederate General Joseph Johnston officially surrenders his army to General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina. After the surrender of General Robert E. Lee’s force on April 9, Johnston’s army was the last hope of the Confederacy.
1865 – John Wilkes Booth is killed when Union soldiers track him down to a Virginia farm 12 days after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Twenty-six-year-old Booth was one of the most famous actors in the country when he shot Lincoln during a performance at Ford’s Theater in Washington on the night of April 14. Booth was a Maryland native and a strong supporter of the Confederacy. As the war entered its final stages, Booth hatched a conspiracy to kidnap the president. He enlisted the aid of several associates, but the opportunity never presented itself. After the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army at Appomattox Court House on April 9, Booth changed the plan to a simultaneous assassination of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward. Only Lincoln was actually killed, however. Seward was stabbed by Lewis Paine but survived, while the man assigned to kill Johnson did not carry out his assignment. After shooting Lincoln, Booth jumped to the stage below Lincoln’s box seat. He landed hard, breaking his leg, before escaping to a waiting horse behind the theater. Many in the audience recognized Booth, so the army was soon hot on his trail. Booth and his accomplice, David Herold, made their way across the Anacostia River and headed toward southern Maryland. The pair stopped at Dr. Samuel Mudd’s home, and Mudd treated Booth’s leg. This earned Mudd a life sentence in prison when he was implicated as part of the conspiracy, but the sentence was later commuted. Booth found refuge for several days at the home of Thomas A. Jones, a Confederate agent, before securing a boat to row across the Potomac to Virginia. After receiving aid from several Confederate sympathizers, Booth’s luck finally ran out. The countryside was swarming with military units looking for Booth, although few shared information since there was a $20,000 reward. While staying at the farm of Richard Garrett, Federal troops arrived on their search but soon rode on. The unsuspecting Garrett allowed his suspicious guests to sleep in his barn, but he instructed his son to lock the barn from the outside to prevent the strangers from stealing his horses. A tip led the Union soldiers back to the Garrett farm, where they discovered Booth and Herold in the barn. Herold came out, but Booth refused. The building was set on fire to flush Booth, but he was shot while still inside. He lived for three hours before gazing at his hands, muttering “Useless, useless,” as he died. He was secretly buried in the floor of the Old Penitentiary in Washington.
1898 – Morrill, Hudson, and Hamilton, formerly Revenue Cutters and recently armed for service in the Mosquito Fleet, passed through Hampton Roads and after asking formal permission of the Commodore, proceeded to Key West. From that point they joint the Cuban blockading fleet.
1915 – The government of Italy agrees to side with the Entente against it’s former ally Austria-Hungary and has been promised substantial territorial gains in the event of victory. Austria-Hungary rapidly moves to reinforce it’s border with Italy from the Eastern Front and Serbia.
1921 – The first weather news was aired by station WEW in St. Louis, Mo.
1937 – During the Spanish Civil War, the German military tests its powerful new air force, the Luftwaffe, and the principles of Blitzkreig, on the Basque town of Guernica in northern Spain. Although the independence-minded Basque region opposed General Francisco Franco’s Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, Guernica itself was a small rural city of only 5,000 inhabitants that declared nonbelligerence in the conflict. With Franco’s approval, the cutting-edge German aircraft began their unprovoked attack at 4:30 p.m., the busiest hour of the market day in Guernica. For three hours, the German planes poured down a continuous and unopposed rain of bombs and gunfire on the town and surrounding countryside. One-third of Guernica’s 5,000 inhabitants were killed or wounded, and fires engulfed the city and burned for days. The indiscriminate killing of civilians at Guernica aroused world opinion and became a symbol of fascist brutality. Unfortunately, by 1942, all major participants in World War II had adopted the bombing innovations developed by the Nazis at Guernica, and by the war’s end, in 1945, millions of innocent civilians had perished under Allied and Axis air raids.
1943 – An American squadron under the command of Admiral McMorris bombards the Japanese held harbors on Attu Island.
1943 – New plans are approved for the Solomon Islands operatoins (code named “Cartwheel”). Admiral Halsey’s South Pacific Area forces are to advance through New Georgia and Bougainville. MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific Area is to continue its advance northwest along the coast of New Guinea until he and Halsey can link up to isolate the Japanese bases at Rabaul and Kavieng.
1944 – The American beachheads at Tanahmerah Bay and Humboldt Bay are linked up. Australian forces, to the east, capture Alexishafen, west of Madang.
1945 – US 3rd Army units take Regensburg while other elements enter Austria. In the south, the French 1st Army reaches Lake Constance.
1945 – US 5th Army units head north from Verona toward the Brenner Pass and west toward Milan. The British 8th Army has crossed the Adige River and moves northeast toward Venice and Trieste.
1945 – There is a further American landing on Negros, this time by units of the Americal Division in the southwest of the island. The troops advance well inland before encountering Japanese resistance.
1945 – On Okinawa, the US 24th Corps attacks the along the Japanese held Maeda Escarpment (Shuri Line). American armor reaches the reverse slope.
1945 – Filipino troops of the 66th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Commonwealth Army, USAFIP-NL and the American troops of the 33rd and 37th Infantry Division, United States Army are liberated in Baguio City and they fight against the Japanese forces under General Tomoyuki Yamashita.
1952 – US minesweeper “Hobson” rammed the aircraft carrier “Wasp,” and 176 were killed when the minesweeper sank.
1952 – Armistice negotiations resumed.
1952 – Air Force Major William H. Wescott, 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, scored his fifth aerial victory to become the 12th ace of the Korean War. His F-86 Sabre “Lady Francis/Michigan Center” was also used by Colonel “Gabby” Gabreski for one of his victories.
1954 – In an effort to resolve several problems in Asia, including the war between the French and Vietnamese nationalists in Indochina, representatives from the world’s powers meet in Geneva. The conference marked a turning point in the United States’ involvement in Vietnam. Representatives from the United States, the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, France, and Great Britain came together in April 1954 to try to resolve several problems related to Asia. One of the most troubling concerns was the long and bloody battle between Vietnamese nationalist forces, under the leadership of the communist Ho Chi Minh, and the French, who were intent on continuing colonial control over Vietnam. Since 1946 the two sides had been hammering away at each other. By 1954, however, the French were tiring of the long and inclusive war that was draining both the national treasury and public patience. The United States had been supporting the French out of concern that a victory for Ho’s forces would be the first step in communist expansion throughout Southeast Asia. When America refused France’s requests for more direct intervention in the war, the French announced that they were including the Vietnam question in the agenda for the Geneva Conference. Discussions on the Vietnam issue started at the conference just as France suffered its worst military defeat of the war, when Vietnamese forces captured the French base at Dien Bien Phu. In July 1954, the Geneva Agreements were signed. As part of the agreement, the French agreed to withdraw their troops from northern Vietnam. Vietnam would be temporarily divided at the 17th parallel, pending elections within two years to choose a president and reunite the country. During that two-year period, no foreign troops could enter Vietnam. Ho reluctantly signed off on the agreement though he believed that it cheated him out of the spoils of his victory. The non-communist puppet government set up by the French in southern Vietnam refused to sign, but without French support this was of little concern at the time. The United States also refused to sign, but did commit itself to abide by the agreement. Privately, U.S. officials felt that the Geneva Agreements, if allowed to be put into action, were a disaster. They were convinced that national elections in Vietnam would result in an overwhelming victory for Ho, the man who had defeated the French colonialists. The U.S. government scrambled to develop a policy that would, at the least, save southern Vietnam from the communists. Within a year, the United States had helped establish a new anti-communist government in South Vietnam and began giving it financial and military assistance, the first fateful steps toward even greater U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
1961 – President Kennedy meets with the National Security Council to decide whether to send troops into Laos. Deputy Secretary of Defense, Roswell L. Gilpatric recommends quick expansion of Vietnam’s forces by 40,000 to prevent an invasion of South Vietnam from Laos, as well as an increase of two 1600 man US trainers and 400 Special Forces troops with a counterinsurgency tasking.
1962 – NASA’s Ranger 4 spacecraft crashes into the Moon. Ranger 4 was a spacecraft of the Ranger program designed to transmit pictures of the lunar surface to Earth stations during a period of 10 minutes of flight prior to crashing upon the Moon, to rough-land a seismometer capsule on the Moon, to collect gamma-ray data in flight, to study radar reflectivity of the lunar surface, and to continue testing of the Ranger program for development of lunar and interplanetary spacecraft. An onboard computer failure caused failure of the deployment of the solar panels and navigation systems; as a result the spacecraft crashed on the far side of the Moon without returning any scientific data. It was the first U.S. spacecraft to reach another celestial body.
1965 – Secretary McNamara reports that although the air raids against North Vietnam have ‘slowed down the movement of men and materiel…infiltration of both arms and personnel into South Vietnam has increased. McNamara, however, refuses to answer questions on increasing troop strength. The war is now costing the nation about $1.5 billion per year.
1965 – A Lou Harris poll shows that about 57% of Americans support Johnson’s handling of the war.
1965 – 20,000 Cambodian students attack the US Embassy there and tear down the US flag in protest.
1967 – US planes from Thailand attack a five-span bridge four miles north of Hanoi to sever rail links to Communist China.
1968 – The United States exploded beneath the Nevada desert a one-megaton nuclear device called “Boxcar.”
1971 – The U.S. command in Saigon announces that the U.S. force level in Vietnam is 281,400 men, the lowest since July 1966. These figures were a direct result of President Richard Nixon’s new “Vietnamization” strategy, which he had announced at the Midway Conference in June 1969. This strategy was a three-pronged program to disengage the United States from the war in Vietnam. The program required that efforts be increased to improve the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces so that they could assume responsibility for the war against the North Vietnamese. Then, as the South Vietnamese became more capable, U.S. forces would be withdrawn from South Vietnam. At the same time, U.S. negotiators would continue to try to reach a negotiated settlement to the war with the communists at the Paris peace talks. The announcement represented a significant change in the nature of the U.S. commitment to the war. The first U.S. soldiers were withdrawn in the fall of 1969 and the withdrawals continued periodically through 1972. Simultaneously, the U.S. increased the advisory effort and provided massive amounts of new equipment and weapons to the South Vietnamese. When the North Vietnamese launched the massive “Easter Offensive” invasion in spring 1972, the South Vietnamese wavered, but eventually rallied with U.S. support and prevailed over the North Vietnamese. Nixon proclaimed that the South Vietnamese victory validated his strategy.
1971 – In Washington D.C., heretofore peaceful anti-war protests of the past five days, change character as militant leaders from Vietnam Veterans Against the War take over. Tactics change to aggressive ‘people’s lobbying,’ with the avowed purpose of ‘shutting down the government,’ primarily by clogging traffic. 5000 Washington police, backed by 12000 troops outmaneuver them.
1972 – President Nixon, despite the ongoing communist offensive, announces that another 20,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Vietnam in May and June, reducing authorized troop strength to 49,000. Nixon emphasized that while U.S. ground troops were being withdrawn, sea and air support for the South Vietnamese would continue. In fact, the U.S. Navy doubled the number of its fighting ships off Vietnam.
1980 – Following an unsuccessful attempt by the United States to rescue U.S. Embassy hostages in Iran, the Tehran government announced that captives were being scattered to thwart any future effort.
1999 – Pres. Milosevic met with Red Cross Pres. Cornelio Sommuraga and said the Red Cross may return to Kosovo and “go anywhere.” Sommuraga met briefly with the 3 captive Americans and said they were ok.
2001 – A US federal judge ruled that military exercises could resume on Vieques Island. Puerto Ricans mobilized for mass demonstrations.
2001 – A group led by Larry Silverstein, a NYC developer, and Westfield America Inc., signed a 99-year lease on the 11-million square-foot WTC complex from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
2003 – In Iraq attackers fired into an ammunition dump guarded by Americans on Baghdad’s southeastern outskirts, setting off thunderous explosions that killed at least six Iraqis and wounded four. As many as 40 were thought killed.
2003 – Russia launched a Soyuz rocket with a 2-man crew, American astronaut Edward Lu and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, to keep the space station operating while Shuttle flights are suspended.
2004 – In Baghdad, Iraq, an explosion leveled part of a building as American troops searched it for suspected production of “chemical munitions.” 2 soldiers were killed and 5 wounded in the blast. In a Fallujah suburb 1 Marine was killed along with 8 insurgents.
2010 – Former dictator of Panama, Manuel Noriega is extradited from the United States to France.
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