This Day in U.S. Military History…… April 9

9 April
1585 – The expedition organised by Sir Walter Raleigh departs England for Roanoke Island (now in North Carolina) to establish the Roanoke Colony.
1682 – The French explorer Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, reached the Mississippi River. La Salle returned to France after having discovered the mouth of the Mississippi River. La Salle claimed lower Mississippi River and all lands that touched it for France.
1731 – Robert Jenkins lost an ear. The event started a war between Britain and Spain. The war took its name from Robert Jenkins, captain of the ship Rebecca, who claimed Spanish coast guards had cut off his ear in 1731. He exhibited the ear in the House of Commons and so aroused public opinion that the government of the British Prime Minister Robert Walpole reluctantly declared war on Oct. 23, 1739. Basically, the war was one of commercial rivalry between England and Spain. By the Treaty of Utecht (1713), which ended Queen Anne’s war, Britain was allowed to participate in slave traffic with the Spanish colonies. A special Spanish fleet, however, interfered with this activity and the Spanish also objected to the English log wooders operating on the coast of Honduras. The other cause of the war was the continued dispute over the boundary of Spanish Florida in relation to Georgia. As soon as war was declared, Gov. James Edward Oglethorpe called on the citizens of Georgia and South Carolina to join in an invasion of Florida. The Spanish retaliated by attempting to invade those colonies by sea.
1782 – Battle of the Saintes begins. The Battle of the Saintes (known to the French as the Bataille de la Dominique, or Battle of Dominica) was an important naval battle that took place over 4 days through 12 April 1782, during the American War of Independence, and was a victory of a British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney over a French fleet under the Comte de Grasse forcing the French and Spanish to abandon a planned invasion of Jamaica. The battle is named after the Saintes (or Saints), a group of islands between Guadeloupe and Dominica in the West Indies. The French fleet defeated here by the Royal Navy was the same French fleet that had blockaded the British Army during the Siege of Yorktown. The French suffered heavy casualties and many were taken prisoner including the Comte de Grasse. Four French ships of the line were captured (including the flagship) as well as one destroyed. Rodney was credited with pioneering the tactic of “breaking the line” in the battle, though this is disputed.
1861 – Second relief convoy for Fort Sumter left New York.1864 – The Battle of Pleasant Hill, LA, left 2,870 casualties.
1865 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders his army to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. For more than a week, Lee had tried to outrun Grant to the west of Richmond and Petersburg. After a ten-month siege of the two cities, the Union forces broke through the defenses and forced Lee to retreat. The Confederates moved along the Appomattox River, with Union General Phillip Sheridan shadowing them to the south. Lee’s army had little food, and they began to desert in large numbers on the retreat. When Lee arrived at Appomattox, he found that his path was blocked. He had not choice but to request a meeting with Grant. They met at a house in Appomattox at 2:00 p.m. on the afternoon of April 9. Lee was resplendent in his dress uniform and a fine sword at his side. Grant arrived wearing a simple soldier’s coat that was muddy from his long ride. The great generals spoke of their service in the Mexican War, and then set about the business at hand. Grant offered generous terms. Officers could keep their side arms, and all men would be immediately released to return home. Any officers and enlisted men who owned horses could take them home, Grant said, to help put crops in the field and carry their families through the next winter. These terms, said Lee, would have “the best possible effect upon the men,” and “will do much toward conciliating our people.” The papers were signed and Lee prepared to return to his men. In one of the great ironies of the war, the surrender took place in the parlor of Wilmer McClean’s home. McClean had once lived along the banks of Bull Run, the site of the first major battle of the war in July 1861. Seeking refuge from the fighting, McClean decided to move out of the Washington-Richmond corridor to try to avoid the fighting that would surely take place there. He moved to Appomattox Court House only to see the war end in his home. Although there were still Confederate armies in the field, the war was officially over. Four years of bloodshed had left a devastating mark on the country: 360,000 Union and 260,000 Confederate soldiers had perished during the Civil War.
1865 – Federals captured Ft. Blakely, Alabama.
1866 – A Civil Rights Bill passed over Pres Andrew Johnson’s veto to secure for former slaves all the rights of citizenship intended by the 13th Amendment. The president was empowered to use the Army to enforce the law. This formed the basis for the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
1867 – Passing by a single vote, the United States Senate ratifies a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska.
1941 – Commissioning of USS North Carolina, which carried 9 16-inch guns.
1941 – The U.S. and Denmark signed an “agreement relating to the defense of Greenland.” The Coast Guard, because of its experience in the Arctic environment, was the principal service to carry out the agreement. The first action seen by U.S. forces in World War II was the seizure of a Nazi weather station and the seizure of a Nazi vessel by the cutter Northland just before the United States declared war.
1942 – American General King surrenders 75,000 men (12,000 Americans) to the Japanese. A death march begins for the prisoners as they are taken to San Fernado, 100 miles away. Many thousands of them die on the march. Resistance continues in isolated areas of Luzon and other islands. General Wainwright and his troops continue to hold out on Corregidor Island. The prisoners were at once led 55 miles from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan peninsula, to San Fernando, on what became known as the “Bataan Death March.” At least 600 Americans and 5,000 Filipinos died because of the extreme brutality of their captors, who starved, beat, and kicked them on the way; those who became too weak to walk were bayoneted. Those who survived were taken by rail from San Fernando to POW camps, where another 16,000 Filipinos and at least 1,000 Americans died from disease, mistreatment, and starvation. After the war, the International Military Tribunal, established by MacArthur, tried Lieutenant General Homma Masaharu, commander of the Japanese invasion forces in the Philippines. He was held responsible for the death march, a war crime, and was executed by firing squad on April 3, 1946.
1943 – Re-establishment of Commodore rank.
1945 – In the attacks against the Ruhr pocket, US 9th Army units penetrate into Essen and reach the famous Krupp factories. Other British and American units, including some more from US 9th Army, are advancing near the Leine River to the east.
1945 – The Allied spring offensive begins with attacks by British 8th Army (General McCreery). Initially, the Polish 2nd Corps advances along Route 9 toward Imola supported by British 5th and 10th Corps the right and left flanks. The objectives of the offensive include Ferrara and Bologna while the US 5th Army, which is scheduled to begin operations on April 14th, is to strike at Bologna and past Modena to the Po River.
1945 – A Liberty ship loaded with aircraft bombs blows up in Bari harbor, Italy killing 360 and injuring 1730.
1945 – On Okinawa, there are unsuccessful attacks by US 24th Corps around Kakazu along the Japanese held Shuri Line. At sea there are less intense Kamikaze attacks. However, in two days of the Japanese suicide strikes have badly damaged 3 destroyers and 2 other ships.
1945 – In the Sulu Archipelago, the US 163rd Infantry Regiment, of US 41st Division, lands on Jolo. There is no Japanese resistance. Other 41st Division units land on Busuanga in the Calamian group.
1951 – Chinese communists opened the Hwachon Dam gates, flooding the Pukhan River Valley.
1953 – Marines regained “Carson” Hill during fighting in Korea.
1959 – NASA announced the selection of America’s first seven astronauts for the US first orbital flight in 1962 under the Mercury program: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard and Donald Slayton.
1963 – British statesman Winston Churchill was made an honorary U.S. citizen.
1964 – Four days of major fighting begin in the Vietnam Mekong Delta. Four Americans are killed in a mortar barrage and a US helicopter base is forced to evacuate.
1965 – In the course of raids over North Vietnam, four US carrier based F4 Phantoms are engaged by Chinese MiG fighters based on the Chinese island of Hainan. One Phantom and its two pilots are lost to suspected fratricide.
1966 – Fears that South Vietnamese Premier Ky might be replaced by a neutralist Buddhist lead to a meeting to re-evaluate Vietnam policy. Continuation of current policies is the result, but the meeting is marked by a lack of optimism and minority calls for “cutting losses.”
1969 – Gallup reports that three out of five persons who have an opinion back President Nixon on the Vietnam War–44% approve, 30% reserved judgment or had no opinion, and 26% disapproved.
1969 – Workers uncover another 65 bodies of Vietcong execution squads in hue during the Tet Offensive.
1970 – Cambodia withdraws all of its military forces form Svayrieng Province, also known as the “Parrot’s Beak,” abandoning it to the Vietnamese Communists.
1981 – The U.S. Navy nuclear submarine USS George Washington accidentally collides with the Nissho Maru, a Japanese cargo ship, sinking it.
1983 – The space shuttle Challenger ended its first mission with a safe landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
1987 – Responding to charges of bugging at the new U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Soviet officials displayed microphones and other gadgets they said were found in Soviet missions in the United States.
1987 – As a result of renewed emphasis on special operations in the 1980s, the Special Forces Branch was established as a basic branch of the Army effective April 9, 1987, by General Orders No. 35, June 19, 1987. The first Special Forces unit in the Army was formed on June 11, 1952, when the 10th Special Forces Group was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A major expansion of Special Forces occurred during the 1960s, with a total of eighteen groups organized in the Regular Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard.
1988 – The US imposed economic sanctions on Panama.
1992 – Former Panamanian ruler Manuel Noriega was convicted in Miami of eight drug and racketeering charges; he is serving a 30 -year prison sentence.
1993 – Four U.S. warplanes fired at artillery in northern Iraq; the Baghdad government denied provoking the attack with artillery fire at the planes.
1994 – The space shuttle Endeavour blasted off on an 11 -day mission that included mapping the Earth’s surface in three dimensions.
1995 – Two Palestinians blew themselves up outside two Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and killed seven Israeli soldiers and an American, Alisa Flatow (20). The Islamic Jihad and Hamas took responsibility. In 1998 a US district court judge ordered the government of Iran to pay $247 million in damages to the family of Flatow.
1997 – The CIA announced that its own errors may have led to demolition of an Iraqi ammunition bunker filled with chemical weapons at Kamisiyah in 1991. The CIA apologized to Gulf War veterans for failing to do a better job in supplying information to U.S. troops who blew up an Iraqi bunker later found to contain chemical weapons.
1998 – At Andersonville, Ga., the National Prisoner of War Museum opened at the site of the Civil War prison.
1999 – A $250 million Air Force satellite, intended to warn of missile launches, went into a useless orbit after being launched aboard a Titan IV.
1999 – NATO forces made air strikes across Yugoslavia on Orthodox Good Friday. Military industrial plants, fuel depots and communications facilities were hit. Reports of the rape and murder of 20 ethnic Albanian women at an army training camp near Djakovica was reported.
1999 – In Kacanik Yugoslav troops massacred a number of ethnic Albanians. When NATO troops arrive in June they found new graves with 81 markers.
1999 – Russia threatened to take military action against NATO and considered an offer by Serbia to form an alliance. Gennady Seleznyov, speaker of parliament, said that a proposal was discussed to aim Russia’s nuclear weapons at NATO countries.
2002 – Lynne Stewart, lawyer for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (in prison for seditious conspiracy), and 3 of Rahman’s followers were indicted for violating federal restrictions and passing covert messages.
2003 – Baghdad falls, ending Saddam Hussein’s 24-year rule. U.S. forces seized the deserted Baath Party ministries and helped tear down a huge iron statue of Saddam, photos and video of which became symbolic of the event. The abrupt fall of Baghdad was accompanied by massive civil disorder, including the looting of government buildings and drastically increased crime.
2003 – The US said it will move its main military base in South Korea out of the capital as soon as possible.
2003 – James Smith (59), a senior FBI counterintelligence agent, was arrested in LA along with Katrina Leung (49), prominent venture capitalist, for the alleged theft and transfer of a classified defense document to the Chinese government.
2004 – U.S. forces partially reoccupied Kut, the southern city seized by a rebellious Shiite militia, but an American -declared halt in Fallujah was undercut by bursts of gunfire on the first anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.
2004 – Rebels attacked a convoy near Baghdad’s airport and kidnapped 2 US soldiers and 7 Halliburton construction employees. 4 bodies were found in the area a few days later.
2005 – Tens of thousands of Shiites marked the anniversary of the fall of Baghdad with a protest against the American military presence at the square where Iraqis and U.S. troops toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein two years ago.
2010 – American and Russian physicists announce the creation of ununseptium, atomic element number 117.
2013 – The Islamic State of Iraq, having expanded into Syria, changes its name, now being known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The number of wilayah—provinces—which it claimed increased to 16. In addition to the seven Iraqi wilayah, the Syrian divisions, largely lying along existing provincial boundaries, are Al Barakah, Al Kheir, Ar-Raqqah, Al Badiya, Halab, Idlib, Hama, Damascus and the Coast. In Syria, ISIS’s seat of power is in Ar-Raqqah Governorate.

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