1775 – Rhode Island Resolve: Rhode Island delegates to Continental Congress press for creation of Continental Navy to protect the colonies.
1791 – John Fitch is granted a United States patent for the steamboat.
1804 – Following the death of Sergeant Charles Floyd, Lewis and Clark promote Patrick Gass as his replacement. Barely three months into their journey to the Pacific, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark lost the only man to die on the journey. On August 20, 1804, Sergeant Charles Floyd died from a disease Lewis diagnosed as “Biliose Chorlick,” or bilious colic. Based on the symptoms described, Floyd’s appendix had probably ruptured and he died of peritonitis. After burying Floyd on a high bluff above the Missouri River, the expedition moved on toward the Pacific Ocean. Two days later, the captains held an election among the men to determine Floyd’s replacement. Private Patrick Gass received a majority of the votes. A native of Pennsylvania, Gass had joined the U.S. Army in 1799 at the age of 28. He proved to be a reliable soldier and soon won promotion to sergeant. When a call for volunteers to join Lewis and Clark’s journey of exploration to the Pacific was released, Gass jumped at the chance. Lewis overrode the commander’s objections to giving up his best noncommissioned officer, and Gass joined the Corps of Discovery as a private. Gass proved himself a capable man in the first weeks of the mission. The captains agreed with their men–Gass was the best choice to replace Floyd as one of the two sergeants on the expedition. On this day in 1804, Lewis issued an order promoting Gass to the rank of “Sergeant in the corps of volunteers for North Western Discovery.” Gass proved more than equal to the task. He served faithfully during the long journey to the Pacific and kept a careful journal throughout the journey, an important historical contribution. After the expedition returned, Lewis and Clark released Gass from duty, giving him a letter testifying to his excellent service. Gass settled in Wellsburg, West Virginia, where he prepared for the publication of his journal. Appearing seven years before the official narrative of the journey was published, A Journal of the Voyages and Travels of a Corps of Discovery was a well-crafted account of the journey that continues to be useful to historians. Having already completed the adventure of a lifetime, Gass still had many decades ahead of him. He served again in the army, lost an eye during the War of 1812, married at the age of 58, and fathered seven children. For most of his later years, Gass was the sole surviving member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. He lived until 1870, dying only a few months short of his 100th birthday.
1839 – The slave ship Amistad was captured off Long Island. The U.S.S. Washington, a U.S. Navy brig, seized the Amistad York, and escorted it to New London, Connecticut.
1847 – Liberia was proclaimed an independent republic. Freed American slaves founded Liberia. They modeled their constitution after that of the US, copied the US flag, and named their capital Monrovia, after James Monroe, who financed early settlers. Over the decades 16,400 former slaves made the voyage. They assumed that the 16 native tribes were there to be exploited.
1861 – Union amphibious force lands near Hatteras, NC.
1862 – The stage is set for the Second Battle of Bull Run on this day when Confederate cavalry under General Fitzhugh Lee enter Manassas Junction and capture the rail center. Union General John Pope’s Army of Virginia was soon on its way, and the two armies would clash on August 29. In August 1862, the action shifted from the James Peninsula, southeast of Richmond, to northern Virginia. The peninsula had been the scene of a major campaign in June, when Union General George McClellan and his Army of the Potomac attempted to capture Richmond, but were thwarted by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the Seven Days’ Battles. By August, it was clear that McClellan would not make another attempt on the Confederate capital. President Lincoln began moving troops from McClellan’s force to General John Pope’s Army of Virginia in the northern part of the state. Lee sent one of his corps, commanded by General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, to keep an eye on the growing Federal presence. Pope’s army was scattered around the area east of Washington from Manassas to the Shenandoah Valley. Approaching the area with the intent of driving Pope away, Jackson and his force captured Bristoe Station southwest of Manassas. On August 26, the Confederates captured Manassas and began looting and destroying Pope’s huge supply depot located there. Pope was surprised by the large Rebel force operating in his rear, but he also realized that Jackson was detached from the rest of Lee’s army and so he began gathering his forces around Manassas. But Pope soon had a new problem: He could not find Jackson. From August 26 until the beginning of Second Bull Run on August 29, Pope’s men searched for Jackson, who had hidden his army in the trees along Bull Run. On August 29, Jackson surprised Pope and the battle was on. The rest of Lee’s army showed up, and the result was a major victory for the Confederacy.
1863 – Battle of Rocky Gap, WV, (White Sulphur Springs).
1865 – Civil War ends with Naval strength over 58,500 men and 600 ships.
1873 – Lee De Forest (d.1961), inventor of the Audion vacuum tube, was born in Council bluffs, Iowa. He is considered the father of radio.
1901 – Maxwell Taylor, U.S. general and diplomat, born. As commanding general of the 8th Army in 1953, he directed U.N. forces during the latter stages of the Korean War.
1942 – Japanese troops landed on New Guinea, Milne Bay.
1943 – The US, Canada and Britain give limited recognition to the Free French Committee of National Liberation.
1943 – 2nd Airdrome Bn prepared to land at Ellice Islands.
1944 – Most of the Allied armies have advance elements across the Seine River. Both US 12th Army Group and British 21st Army Group are advancing northwest.
1945 – Japanese diplomats boarded the Missouri to receive instructions on Japan’s surrender at the end of WW II.
1950 – The 5th Regimental Combat Team (the 5th Infantry Regiment and the 555th Artillery Battalion) was assigned to the 24th Infantry Division, replacing the 34th Infantry Regiment and the 63rd Field Artillery Battalion, which were reduced to paper strength and transferred to Japan to be reconstituted. The 34th Infantry Regiment had been greatly battered in combat at Pyongtaek, Chonan and the Kum River line.
1950 – The 65th Infantry Regiment, newly assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division to replace the 30th Infantry Regiment, sailed from Puerto Rico through the Panama Canal for Korea.
1957 – The Soviet Union announces that it has successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of being fired “into any part of the world.” The announcement caused great concern in the United States, and started a national debate over the “missile gap” between America and Russia. For years after World War II, both the United States and the Soviet Union had been trying to perfect a long-range missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Building on the successes of Nazi Germany in developing the V-1 and V-2 rockets that pummeled Great Britain during the last months of World War II, both American and Russian scientists raced to improve the range and accuracy of such missiles. (Both nations relied heavily on captured German scientists in their efforts.) In July 1957, the United States seemed to win the race when the Atlas, an ICBM with a speed of up to 20,000 miles an hour and an effective range of 5,000 miles, was ready for testing. The test, however, was a disaster. The missile rose only about 5,000 feet into the air, tumbled, and plunged to earth. Just a month later, the Soviets claimed success by announcing that their own ICBM had been tested, had “covered a huge distance in a brief time,” and “landed in the target area.” No details were given in the Russian announcement and some commentators in the United States doubted that the ICBM test had been as successful as claimed. Nevertheless, the Soviet possession of this “ultimate weapon,” coupled with recent successful test by the Russians of atomic and hydrogen bombs, raised concerns in America. If the Soviets did indeed perfect their ICBM, no part of the United States would be completely safe from possible atomic attack. Less than two months later, the Soviets sent the satellite Sputnik into space. Concern quickly turned to fear in the United States, as it appeared that the Russians were gaining the upper hand in the arms and space races. The American government accelerated its own missile and space programs. The Soviet successes–and American failures–became an issue in the 1960 presidential campaign. Democratic challenger John F. Kennedy charged that the outgoing Eisenhower administration had allowed a dangerous “missile gap” to develop between the United States and the Soviet Union. Following his victory in 1960, Kennedy made missile development and the space program priorities for his presidency.
1963 – Lodge meets with Diem for the first time. Diem refuses to drop Nhu, and refuses to discuss reforms. Lodge now presses the Kennedy administration, still badly divided over the issue of supporting a coup, to support the dissident generals. CIA Chief of Station-Saigon, John Richardson, agrees with Lodge, reporting ot Washington that the situation has reached a point of no return.
1964 – The Joint Chiefs of Staff send a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara. It concurred with an August 19 cable from Ambassador Maxwell Taylor in Saigon who called for “a carefully orchestrated bombing attack on North Vietnam” to prevent “a complete collapse of the U.S. position in Southeast Asia.”
1969 – New Hampshire’s 3rd Battalion, 197th Artillery suffers its highest loss of life when a truck carrying seven soldiers is blown up by a landmine less than two weeks before the unit was scheduled to return home. Five men, all Guardsmen from Manchester’s Battery A, are immediately killed. The shock wave to hit the city was devastating. These deaths brought to six the total number of Guard members from the battalion killed in action. A bronze plaque now stands in front of the Manchester Armory to their memory.
1981 – Voyager 2 took photo’s of Saturn’s moon Titan.
1987 – In an attempt to eliminate a superpower stumbling block, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said his country would destroy its 72 Pershing 1A rockets if Washington and Moscow scrapped all their intermediate-range nuclear weapons.
1990 – Fifty-five Americans, who had been evacuated from the US Embassy in Kuwait, left Baghdad by car and headed for the Turkish border.
1991 – In an address to the Supreme Soviet, President Mikhail S. Gorbachev promised national elections in a last-ditch effort to preserve his government, but leaders of Soviet republics told him the hour of central power had passed.
1992 – A federal judge declared a mistrial in the Iran-Contra cover-up trial of former CIA spy chief Clair George. George was convicted of perjury in a retrial, but was then pardoned by President Bush.
1992 – The United States, Britain, and France announce the establishment of a southern “no fly zone” to protect Iraqi dissidents in southern Iraq from regime air attacks. (A northern “no fly zone” has been in place since the 1991 cease-fire).
1992 – The United Nations Security Council votes to accept a U.N.-sponsored demarcation of the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border and declares this border “inviolable.”
1993 – Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and 14 co-defendants entered innocent pleas in federal court in New York, a day after their indictment on charges of conspiring to wage terrorism against the United States.
1993 – Manhunt begins. 3rd Battalion. 75th Ranger Regiment and 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment (DELTA) deploy to Somalia to capture warlord Mohammad Farrah Aidid.
1996 – A Cuban court convicted fugitive U.S. financier Robert Vesco of economic crimes. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for economic crimes against the state.
1997 – Two defectors and their families from North Korea were accepted by the US. One was Chang Sung Gil, the ambassador to Egypt, the other was his brother Chang Sung Ho, a commercial councilor at the North Korean mission in Paris. High level arms talks were immediately terminated.
1998 – U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter resigns, saying the Security Council and the United States have failed to take a tougher stand against Iraq.
1998 – A Yemeni national, Mohammed Rashed Daoud Owhali, aka Khalid Salim, suspected in the bombing of the US embassy at Nairobi, was flown to the US from Kenya.
1998 – A $225 million rocket and communication satellite exploded after take-off at Cape Canaveral.
1998 – Libya indicated that it would accept an American and British proposal that 2 suspects of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet be tried in the Netherlands by Scottish judges.
1999 – US officials reported that its permanent military presence in Haiti would be replaced by temporary missions.
2001 – IBM computer scientists reported that they had constructed a working logic circuit within a single molecule of carbon fiber known as a carbon nanotube.
2003 – Investigators concluded that NASA’s overconfident management and inattention to safety doomed the space shuttle Columbia as much as did damage to the craft.
2004 – Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani arranged a peace pact with Muqtada al-Sadr. The 5-point plan called for Kufa and Najaf to be declared weapons-free.
2004 – A mortar barrage hit a mosque in Kufa filled with Iraqis preparing to join a march in Najaf by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, killing 27 people and wounding 63.
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