1540 – Explorer Hernando de Alarcon traveled up the Colorado River.
1718 – Hundreds of French colonists arrived in Louisiana, with some of them settling in present-day New Orleans.
1765 – In protest over the stamp tax, American colonists sacked and burned the home of Massachusetts governor Thomas Hutchinson.
1814 – British forces destroyed the Library of Congress, containing some 3,000 books.
1829 – Pres. Jackson made an offer to buy Texas, but the Mexican government refused.
1843 – Steam frigate Missouri arrives at Gibralter completing first Trans-Atlantic crossing by U.S. steam powered ship.
1861 – John LaMountain began balloon reconnaissance ascensions at Fort Monroe, Virginia.
1862 – Union and Confederate troops skirmished at Waterloo Bridge, Virginia, during the Second Bull Run Campaign.
1864 – Confederate troops secure a vital supply line into Petersburg, Virginia, when they halt destruction of the Weldon and Petersburg Railroad by Union troops. The railroad, which ran from Weldon, North Carolina, was a major supply line for General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. For more than two months, Lee had been under siege at Petersburg by General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac. Grant had tried to cut the rail line in June and again in August. On August 18, his troops succeeded in capturing a section of the track, but the Confederates simply began to stop the trains further south of Petersburg and haul the supplies by wagon into the city. Grant responded by ordering his troops to tear up the track and move further south. Soldiers from General Winfield Hancock’s corps tore up eight miles of rail, but Lee moved quickly to halt the operation. On August 25, General Ambrose P. Hill’s infantry and General Wade Hampton’s cavalry were ordered to attack the Federals at Ream’s Station, and they drove the Yankees into defensive positions. The Union earthworks, hastily constructed the day before, were arranged in a square shape that was too small and so Confederate shells easily passed over the top. The green troop in Union General John Gibbon’s division was unnerved by the bombardment, and a Confederate attack broke through the Yankee lines. The Union force retreated in disarray. Hancock’s corps lost 2,700 men, most of whom were captured during the retreat. Hill and Hampton lost just 700. The battle was a stinging defeat for Hancock’s proud Second Corps, which had held the Union line against Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, and was considered among the best in the Army of the Potomac. Gibbon and Hancock blamed each other for the disaster, and both soon left their positions in the Second Corps.
1883 – The signing of a Treaty of Protectorate formally ends Vietnam’s independence. The name ‘Vietnam’ is officially eliminated, and the French divide Vietnam into northern and southern protectorates (Tonkin and Annam, respectively), both tightly under French control, although Annam retains its imperial Vietnamese administration. Southern Vietnam (Cochin China) has been a French colony since 1867. A general uprising in 1885 fails. In the Red River Valley of the north the French begin a period of twelve years of slaughter known as the ‘pacification’ of Tonkin.
1901 – Clara Maass (25), army nurse, sacrificed her life to prove that the mosquito carries yellow fever. Clara Louise Maass lost her life during scientific studies to determine the cause of yellow fever. A graduate of Newark German Hospital Training School for Nurses, she worked as an Army nurse in Florida, Cuba, and the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. In 1900, Maass returned to Cuba at the request of Maj. William Gorgas, chief sanitation officer. There she became embroiled in a controversy over the cause of yellow fever. To determine whether the tropical fever was caused by city filth or the bite of a mosquito, seven volunteers, including Maass, were bitten by the mosquitoes. Two men died, but she survived. Several months later she again volunteered to be bitten, this time suffering severe pain and fever. Maass died of yellow fever at the age of 25. In her memory, Newark German Hospital was renamed Clara Maass Memorial Hospital and in 1952, Cuba issued a national postage stamp in her name. In 1976, the U.S. Postal Service honored Clara Louise Maass with a commemorative stamp.
1921 – The Battle of Blair Mountain, one of the largest civil uprisings in United States history and the largest armed rebellion since the American Civil War, begins. For five days in late August and early September 1921, in Logan County, West Virginia, some 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers, called the Logan Defenders, who were backed by coal mine operators during an attempt by the miners to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. The battle ended after approximately one million rounds were fired, and the United States Army intervened by presidential order.
1921 – The United States, which never ratified the Versailles Treaty ending World War I, finally signed a peace treaty with Germany.
1942 – Five Navy nurses who became POWs on Guam repatriated .
1943 – U.S. forces completed the occupation of New Georgia in the Solomon Islands during World War II. Losing Hill 700 to the Japanese meant defeat for the American forces on Bougainville. To the men of the 37th Infantry Division, that was unthinkable.
1944 – After more than four years of Nazi occupation, Paris is liberated by the French 2nd Armored Division and the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. German resistance was light, and General Dietrich von Choltitz, commander of the German garrison, defied an order by Adolf Hitler to blow up Paris’ landmarks and burn the city to the ground before its liberation. Choltitz signed a formal surrender that afternoon, and on August 26, Free French General Charles de Gaulle led a joyous liberation march down the Champs d’Elysees. Paris fell to Nazi Germany on June 14, 1940, one month after the German Wehrmacht stormed into France. Eight days later, France signed an armistice with Germans, and a puppet French state was set up with its capital at Vichy. Elsewhere, however, General Charles de Gaulle and the Free French kept fighting, and the Resistance sprang up in occupied France to resist Nazi and Vichy rule. The French 2nd Armored Division was formed in London in late 1943 with the express purpose of leading the liberation of Paris during the Allied invasion of France. In August 1944, the division arrived at Normandy under the command of General Jacques-Philippe Leclerc and was attached to General George S. Patton’s 3rd U.S. Army. By August 18, Allied forces were near Paris, and workers in the city went on strike as Resistance fighters emerged from hiding and began attacking German forces and fortifications. At his headquarters two miles inland from the Normandy coast, Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower had a dilemma. Allied planners had concluded that the liberation of Paris should be delayed so as to not divert valuable resources away from important operations elsewhere. The city could be encircled and then liberated at a later date. On August 21, Eisenhower met with de Gaulle and told him of his plans to bypass Paris. De Gaulle urged him to reconsider, assuring him that Paris could be reclaimed without difficulty. The French general also warned that the powerful communist faction of the Resistance might succeed in liberating Paris, thereby threatening the re-establishment of a democratic government. De Gaulle politely told Eisenhower that if his advance against Paris was not ordered, he would send Leclerc’s 2nd Armored Division into the city himself. On August 22, Eisenhower agreed to proceed with the liberation of Paris. The next day, the 2nd Armored Division advanced on the city from the north and the 4th Infantry Division from the south. Meanwhile, in Paris, the forces of German General Dietrich von Choltitz were fighting the Resistance and completing their defenses around the city. Hitler had ordered Paris defended to the last man, and demanded that the city not fall into Allied hands except as “a field of ruins.” Choltitz dutifully began laying explosives under Paris’ bridges and many of its landmarks, but disobeyed an order to commence the destruction. He did not want to go down in history as the man who had destroyed the “City of Light”–Europe’s most celebrated city. The 2nd Armored Division ran into heavy German artillery, taking heavy casualties, but on August 24 managed to cross the Seine and reach the Paris suburbs. There, they were greeted by enthusiastic civilians who besieged them with flowers, kisses, and wine. Later that day, Leclerc learned that the 4th Infantry Division was poised to beat him into Paris proper, and he ordered his exhausted men forward in a final burst of energy. Just before midnight on August 24, the 2nd Armored Division reached the Hýtel de Ville in the heart of Paris. German resistance melted away during the night. Most of the 20,000 troops surrendered or fled, and those that fought were quickly overcome. On the morning of August 25, the 2nd Armored Division swept clear the western half of Paris while the 4th Infantry Division cleared the eastern part. Paris was liberated. In the early afternoon, Choltitz was arrested in his headquarters by French troops. Shortly after, he signed a document formally surrendering Paris to de Gaulle’s provincial government. De Gaulle himself arrived in the city later that afternoon. On August 26, de Gaulle and Leclerc led a triumphant liberation march down the Champs d’Elysees. Scattered gunfire from a rooftop disrupted the parade, but the identity of the snipers was not determined. De Gaulle headed two successive French provisional governments until 1946, when he resigned over constitutional disagreements. From 1958 to 1969, he served as French president under the Fifth Republic.
1944 – “Dammit colonel, I’m looking up at Notre Dame!” became the battle cry of an on-going feud between two former Guard units as each claim the bragging rights as to which American unit was the first to actually enter the city of Paris just as the Germans abandoned it. The statement was made by Captain William Buenzle, a New Jersey Guardsman, commanding Troop A, 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron to his commander, Colonel Cyrus Dolph III, commander of New Jersey’s 102nd Cavalry Group, the famous “Essex Troop” to which the 38th was assigned. The 38th was organized in 1942 from former Guardsmen of Iowa’s 113th Cavalry Regiment. After the 38th was assigned to the 102nd in England it gained some New Jersey Guardsmen (including Buenzle) too. The other half of the 102nd Groups’ compliment was it’s own 102nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, also from New Jersey. Ever since landing on Omaha Beach on June 8th (D+2 after “D-Day”) the Group had been an important part of the scouting ‘eyes’ of the Allied advance through Normandy. On this date each squadron was scouting ahead for major components of the Allied armies. The 38th was patrolling for the 4th U.S. Infantry Division and the 102nd scouting for the French 2nd Armored Division. Both entered Paris at about the same time by two different routes. While Buenzle’s statement gives strength to the 38th’s claim, and the veterans of each claim to this day that their squadron was the ‘first,’ its safe to say that Guardsmen were indeed the “first in Paris.”
1944 – In Brittany, the US 8th Corps launches an attack on Brest were the German garrison continues to resist. The HMS Warspite shells the town.
1944 – American forces of US 7th Army capture Avignon in the advance westward. Most of the German 19th Army is withdrawing northward up the Rhone valley. The garrisons in Marseilles and Toulon continue to resist.
1945 – Captain John Birch of the US Army is shot dead in a scuffle with Chinese Communist soldiers. The liberation of China is becoming a race between the rival Nationalist and Communist forces. Troops of the Kuomintang, commanded by Generalisimo Chiang Kai-shek, enter Shanghai and Nanking, the prewar capital. The Japanese surrender at Nanking was accepted with Communist troops only 3 miles from the city. Communist forces are reported to be marching towards both cities. In Shanghai, the Communists claim workers are occupying factories and preparing to welcome the Communist forces. In the south, Communist forces are reported to be advancing in Canton and nearing Hong Kong. In the north they are closing in on Tientsin. In the 1950s, Robert Welch would create a right-wing, anticommunist organization called the John Birch Society. For Welch, Birch was “the first casualty in the Third World War between Communists and the ever-shrinking Free World.”
1945 – General Yamashita informs the commander of the US 32nd Division that he has ordered all Japanese troops in the Philippines to lay down their arms.
1945 – Vice-Admiral Willis A. “Ching” Lee Jr. Dies of a heart attack at age 56.
1945 – CGC Magnolia sank in a collision off Mobile Bay with the loss of 1 man.
1947 – Marion Carl, US Navy test pilot, set a world speed record of 651 mph in a D-558-I at Muroc Field (later Edwards AFB), Ca. He was shot to death in Oregon by a house robber in 1998 at age 82.
1948 – The House Un-American Activities Committee holds first-ever televised congressional hearing: “Confrontation Day” between Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss.
1950 – President Truman ordered the Army to seize control of the nation’s railroads to avert a strike. The railroads were returned to their owners 2 years later.
1950 – Major General William F. Dean, 24th Infantry Division commander, was taken prisoner by the North Koreans after evading capture for 46 days after the fall of Taejon.
1950 – The Army organized the Japan Logistical Command to provide the supplies and equipment needed to support the Korean War, relieving Eighth Army of theater logistical support missions.
1951 – 23 Navy Banshee and Panther fighters from USS Essex (CV-9) escort Air Force heavy bombers attacking Najin, Korea since target, the rail marshaling yards at Rashin located on the extreme northeast Korean border, was beyond range of land-based fighters.
1967 – Defense Secretary McNamara concedes that the U.S. bombing campaign has had little effect on the North’s “war-making capability.” At the same time, McNamara refuses a request from military commanders to bomb all MIG bases in North Vietnam. In Hanoi, North Vietnam’s Administrative Committee orders all workers in light industry and all craftsmen and their families to leave the city; only persons vital to the city’s defense and production were to remain.
1971 – The Secretary of Transportation announced the awarding of a contract to the Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company of Seattle, Washington, “to build the world’s most powerful icebreaker for the US Coast Guard,” Polar Star, the first of the Polar-Class of icebreakers.
1971 – U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade, among the first U.S. ground units sent to Vietnam, ceases combat operations and prepares to redeploy to the United States as part of Nixon’s troop withdrawal plan. As the redeployment commenced, the communists launched a new offensive to disrupt the upcoming General Assembly elections in South Vietnam. The height of the new offensive occurred from August 28 to August 30, when the Communists executed 96 attacks in the northern part of South Vietnam. U.S. bases also came under attack at Lai Khe, Cam Ranh Bay, and other areas. Nixon’s troop reduction plans were supposedly tied to the level of enemy activity on the battlefield, but once they began, very little attention was paid to what the enemy was doing and the withdrawals continued unabated.
1981 – The U.S. spacecraft Voyager 2 came within 63,000 miles of Saturn’s cloud cover, sending back pictures and data about the ringed planet.
1985 – STS 51-I was scrubbed at T –9 min because of an onboard computer problem.
1988 – NASA launched space vehicle S-214.
1989 – NASA scientists received stunning photographs of Neptune and its moons from Voyager 2.
1990 – The United Nations gave the world’s navies the right to use force to stop vessels trading with Iraq.
1991 – Linus Torvalds announces the first version of what will become Linux.
1993 – The United States applied limited sanctions against China and Pakistan after concluding the Chinese had sold missile technology to the Pakistanis. After China sold some M-11 missile components to Pakistan, the US imposed limited sanctions.
1997 – NASA sent a Delta rocket aloft with the Ace solar observatory, Advanced Composition Explorer. The 5-year $110 million project will go into orbit at a point 1 million miles from Earth and 92 million miles from the Sun where the gravity of Earth and Sun balance.
1998 – Iraq asks the United Nations to prevent Richard Butler from making public statements about searches for weapons in Iraq.
2000 – German intelligence confirmed that it had discovered a secret Iraqi missile factory near Baghdad. Some 250 technicians were reported working on ARABIL-100 short-range missiles.
2002 – A U.S.-British air raid in southern Iraq destroyed a major military surveillance site that monitors American troops in the Persian Gulf
2002 – Up to 10 guerrillas from a Philippine Marxist rebel group blacklisted by the United States were killed when the military clashed with a 40-man New People’s Army (NPA) band in Rodriguez town, a Manila suburb.
2003 – NASA launched the largest-diameter infrared telescope ever in space. NASA showed the 1st images from the $670 million Spitzer Space Telescope on Dec 18.
2003 – In southeastern Afghanistan US jets hit a Taliban hideout and at least 14 insurgents were killed.
2004 – Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani returned to Iraq from a hospital stay in London and called for a mass demonstration to end the fighting in Najaf.
2004 – Militants said they had kidnapped the brother-in-law of Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan and demanded he end all military operations in the holy city of Najaf.
2005 – Hurricane Katrina made landfall between Hallandale Beach and Aventura, Florida, as a Category 1 hurricane. Four days later it came ashore again near Empire, Buras and Boothville, Louisiana. The rescue and response effort was one of the largest in Coast Guard history, with 24,135 lives saved and 9,409 evacuations.
2012 – Voyager 1 spacecraft enters interstellar space becoming the first man-made object to do so.
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