This Day in U.S. Military History…… July 21

21 July
1667 – The Peace of Breda ended the Second Anglo-Dutch War and ceded Dutch New Amsterdam to the English. The South American country of Surinam, formerly Dutch Guiana, including the nutmeg island of Run was ceded by England to the Dutch in exchange.
1669 – John Locke’s Constitution of English colony Carolina was approved.
1823 – After pirate attack, LT David G. Farragut leads landing party to destroy pirate stronghold in Cuba.
1861 – The first major engagement of the main armies in the Civil War takes place along a muddy creek known as “Bull Run.” The entire Confederate Army was composed of volunteer militia although some of its officers had served in the federal army before the war. While the Union Army had some Regular soldiers in it, most of its ranks also contained volunteer militia. Neither army was well trained and in the regiments of both were found a variety of uniforms in blue and gray, causing confusion on the battlefield. The battle was a Confederate victory, made notable by the determined defense of General Thomas Jackson and his Virginia troops, hereafter known to history as the “Stonewall Brigade.” When the Union army marched out of Washington, DC, it soon engaged the Confederate army assembled near the railroad junction at Manassas Court House, in Northern Virginia. This marked the first major land combat of the war. Both armies had units dressed in blue and gray, causing confusion among units all day. As Union forces started pressing hard against the Confederate left flank, the 4th Alabama Volunteer Infantry was dispatched to plug a gap while other southern forces formed a defensive line behind them. The 4th held its ground for more than an hour, repulsing four assaults by Union troops. Finally the rebels regrouped and went on the attack, winning the battle and sending the Union army reeling back into Washington, DC. The 4th Alabama fought in every major engagement in the Eastern Theater of the war, surrendering less than 100 men at Appomattox in April 1865.
1861 – U.S.S. Albatross, Commander Prentiss, engaged C.S.S. Beaufort, Lieutenant R. C. Duvall, in Oregon In¬let, North Carolina. Albatross, heavier gunned, forced Beau fort to withdraw.
1862 – U.S. steamers Clara Dolsen and Rob Roy and tug Restless under Commander Alexander M. Pennock, with troops embarked, arrived from Cairo to protect Evansville, Indiana, at the request of Governor Morton. Troops were landed and retook Henderson, Kentucky, from Confederate guerrillas, several boats were burned, and the Ohio was patrolled against attack from the Kentucky side of the river. Major General John Love wrote to Commander Pennock expressing the “gratitude with which the citizens of Indiana and of this locality will regard the prompt cooperation of yourself and your officers in this emergency, which threatened their security.” The mobility which naval control of the river gave to Union forces neutralized repeated Confederate attempts to re-establish positions in the border states.
1877 – In mid-July of 1877, the Baltimore and Ohio railroad strike turned bloody: the Maryland militia opened fire on the rail workers, leaving nine strikers dead and touching off a round of riots that engulfed Baltimore. The effects of the Baltimore and Ohio incident surged across the East Coast and, on this day in 1877, workers in rail-heavy Pittsburgh hit the picket line to stage a sympathy strike. Coming but a day after the outbreak of fighting in Maryland, the Pittsburgh strike was all but bound to degenerate into violence. And, when the state militia entered the scene, Pittsburgh was primed to go up in flames. The workers greeted the troops with a volley of stones; the militia responded with a round gun fire and Pittsburgh’s sympathy strike soon turned into an all out war. During the ensuing battle ignited, fires ravaged the surrounding area and forced the militia to beat a temporary retreat. But, after a night of a fighting that cost local rail companies some $10 million, the troops regained a modicum of control over the city. While the brutish events in Pittsburgh were repeated in Chicago later that month, the bloodshed did little to aid the Baltimore and Ohio strikers: indeed, the rail workers ultimately signed an agreement that did little to ameliorate their conditions.
1898 – Spain ceded Guam to US.
1918 – The residents and coastguardsmen of Orleans, Massachusetts, were amazed to see the German U-boat, U-156, firing at an American tug and four barges just off shore.
1921 – Gen. Billy Mitchell flew off with a payload of makeshift aerial bombs and sank the former German battle ship Ostfriesland off Hampton Roads, Virginia; the 1st time a battleship was ever sunk by an airplane.
1930 – The Veterans Administration is established to replace the troubled Veterans Bureau and two other agencies involved in veterans’ care.
1941 – Roosevelt asks Congress to extend the draft period from one year to 30 months and to make similar increases in the terms of service for the National Guard. There is considerable debate on the proposal.
1941 – France accepted Japan’s demand for military control of Indochina.
1941 – Himmler ordered the building of the Majdanek concentration camp. The camp was built in eastern Poland as a principal site to exterminate Jews. It contained 7 gas chambers.
1942 – President Roosevelt appointments Admiral Leahy as his personal Chief of Staff.
1943 – The Allied advances continue. The British capture Gerbini, the Canadians take Leonforte and the Americans occupy Corleone and Castelvetrano.
1943 – A small American force lands on Vella Lavella to determine whether significant forces can be landed there, by-passing the Japanese stronghold of Kolombangara. On New Georgia, Griswald plans an new offensive.
1944 – Troops of the US 3rd Amphibious Corps (Geiger) land on Guam. The 3rd Marine Division (Turnage) establishes a beachhead at Asan, west of Agana. The 1st Marine Division (Shephard) comes ashore at Agat. Eventually, 54,900 American troops are deployed. There is only moderate Japanese resistance on the beaches. Task Force 53 (Admiral Connolly) provides naval support with 6 battleships and 5 escort carriers. Three groups from Task Force 58 attack Japanese positions with carrier aircraft. The Japanese garrison numbers 19,000. The defense is based on the forces of the 29th Infantry Division (Takashima). General Obata, commanding the Japanese 31st Army, is present on the island. Participating vessels included the Coast Guard tender CGC Tupelo and the Coast Guard-manned Navy warships included Cor Caroli, Aquarius, Centaurus, Sterope, Arthur Middleton, LST-24, LST-70, LST-71 and LST-207.
1944 – Japanese forces launch further attacks over the Driniumor River, near Aitape. American forces hold the offensive.
1944 – The French Expeditionary Corps (part of US 5th Army) is withdrawn from the line. It is being redeployed as part of the preparation for the Allied invasion of southern France.
1944 – Von Kluge warned Hitler of the impending collapse of front in Normandy.
1945 – The Potsdam Conference continues. Churchill, Truman and Stalin confer on politics and strategy, in a town near Berlin. Although very little information about the progress of the Big Three Conference is being made public, it is reported that much has been done. The leaders have spent an average of almost 3 hours together since their first meeting on Tuesday and there are also frequent and lengthy meetings between the foreign affairs ministers (Eden, Byrnes and Molotov), committees and subcommittees of experts. In a private meeting Truman and Churchill agree to drop the atomic bomb on Japan if it fails to surrender unconditionally. Meanwhile, Allied representatives select Nuremberg as the location of the trial of the main Nazi war leaders.
1945 – American radio broadcasts call on Japan to surrender or face destruction.
1946 – In first U.S. test of adaptability of jet aircraft to shipboard operations, XFD-1 Phantom makes landings and takeoffs without catapults from Franklin D. Roosevelt.
1949 – The US Senate ratified the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) 82-13.
1950 – Major General William F. Dean was reported missing in action as his 24th Infantry Division fought its way out of Taejon. During that action, he set the example by single-handedly attacking a T-34 tank with a grenade and directing the fire of others from an exposed position. As his division withdrew, he remained with the rearguard, rounding up stragglers and aiding the wounded. It was learned later that he had been captured about 35 miles south of Taejon on Aug. 25. Since the communists kept his capture a secret, he was presumed dead. In early 1951, President Truman presented the Medal of Honor to his wife in a White House ceremony. He was the only general officer and, at 51, the oldest man to receive the Medal of Honor during the Korean War.
1955 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower presents his “Open Skies” plan at the 1955 Geneva summit meeting with representatives of France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. The plan, though never accepted, laid the foundation for President Ronald Reagan’s later policy of “trust, but verify” in relation to arms agreements with the Soviet Union. Eisenhower met with Prime Minister Anthony Eden of Great Britain, Premier Edgar Faure of France, and Premier Nikolai Bulganin of the Soviet Union (acting for Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev) in Geneva in July 1955. The agenda for the summit included discussions on the future of Germany and arms control. As it became clear that no consensus could be reached on the issue of possible German reunification or the precise configuration of an arms control agreement, Eisenhower dramatically unveiled what came to be known as his “Open Skies” proposal. It called for the United States and the Soviet Union to exchange maps indicating the exact location of every military installation in their respective nations. With these maps in hand, each nation would then be allowed to conduct aerial surveillance of the installations in order to assure that the other nations were in compliance with any arms control agreements that might be reached. While the French and British expressed interest in the idea, the Soviets rejected any plan that would leave their nation subject to surveillance by a Western power. Khrushchev declared that Eisenhower’s “Open Skies” was nothing more than an “espionage plot.” Indeed, “Open Skies” was much less than an “espionage plot.” Eisenhower himself was later quoted as saying that he knew the Soviets would never accept the plan, but thought that their rejection of the idea would make the Russians look like they were the major impediment to an arms control agreement. For the Soviets, the idea of U.S. planes conducting surveillance of their military bases was unthinkable. They did not want it known that the Soviet Union was far behind the United States in terms of its military capabilities. The United States soon found that out anyway–just a few months after the Soviet rejection of “Open Skies,” the Eisenhower administration approved the use of high-altitude spy planes (the famous U-2s) for spying on the Soviet Union. Thirty years later, President Reagan would use much the same rhetoric in his arms control dealings with the Soviet Union. Arms control, he declared, could only be effective if compliance with such agreements could be verified. “Trust, but verify,” became Reagan’s standard phrase.
1955 – First sub powered by liquid metal cooled reactor launched – Seawolf.
1961 – Capt. Virgil “Gus” Grissom became the second American to rocket into a suborbital pattern around the Earth, flying on the Mercury 4 Liberty Bell 7. The Mercury capsule sank in the Atlantic, 302 miles from Cape Canaveral and Grissom was rescued by helicopter. The space capsule was recovered in 1999.
1965 – With Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara back from a visit to Vietnam, President Lyndon B. Johnson begins a weeklong series of conferences with his civilian and military advisers on Vietnam. He also met with private citizens that he trusted during this period. Johnson appeared to be considering all the options with an open mind, but it was clear that he was leaning toward providing more combat troops to bolster the faltering South Vietnamese government. Johnson was faced with a rapidly deteriorating situation in Vietnam. The Viet Cong had increased the level of combat and there were indications that Hanoi was sending troops to fight in South Vietnam. It was apparent that the South Vietnamese were in danger of being overwhelmed. Johnson had sent Marines and paratroopers to protect American installations, but he was becoming convinced that more had to be done to stop the communists or they would soon overwhelm South Vietnam. While some advisers, such as Undersecretary of State George Ball, recommended a negotiated settlement, McNamara urged the president to “expand promptly and substantially” the U.S. military presence in South Vietnam. Johnson, not wanting to “lose” Vietnam to the communists, ultimately accepted McNamara’s recommendation. On July 22, he authorized a total of 44 U.S. battalions for commitment in South Vietnam, a decision that led to a massive escalation of the war. There were less than ten U.S. Army and Marine battalions in South Vietnam at this time. Eventually there would be more than 540,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam.
1966 – Gemini X returned to Earth.
1974 – US House Judiciary approved 2 Articles of Impeachment against Pres. Nixon.
1980 – Draft registration began in the United States for 19- and 20-year-old men.
1987 – Navy escorts first Earnest Will Convoy in the Persian Gulf.
1989 – The State Department confirmed an ABC News report that Felix S. Bloch, a veteran U.S. diplomat, was being investigated as a possible Soviet spy. Bloch was never charged with espionage, but was fired from his job in 1990.
1993 – A GI is WIA in a rocket attack. Return fire from a Cobra kills one Somali gunman.
1995 – At a 16-nation conference in London, the United States and NATO allies warned Bosnian Serbs that further attacks on UN safe havens would draw a “substantial and decisive response.”
1997 – The U.S.S. Constitution, aka Old Ironsides,, which defended the United States during the War of 1812, set sail with 216 crew members under its own power for first time in 116 years, leaving its temporary anchorage at Marblehead, Mass., for a one-hour voyage marking its 200th anniversary. The actual anniversary was the following October. It was built in 1797 and was never defeated in 42 battles. Prior to this launch her Navy crew received training in sailing a square rigger aboard the Coast Guard’s Eagle. The Coast Guard then enforced security and safety zones around the Navy frigate during her brief voyage around the harbor. More than 800 Coast Guard personnel, 10 cutters, three helicopters and 81 small boats were involved in the operation.
1998 – The Pentagon said it found no evidence to support allegations in a CNN report that U.S. troops had used nerve gas against American defectors in Laos.
1998 – Astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space, died in Monterey, Calif., at age 74.
2000 – Special Counsel John C. Danforth concluded “with 100 percent certainty” that the federal government was innocent of wrongdoing in the siege that killed 80 members of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, in 1993.
2000 – It was reported that computers at Los Alamos simulated a nuclear blast in 3 dimensions for the 1st time.
2003 – About 1,000 soldiers of Afghanistan’s new national army launched their first major operation, sweeping for insurgents in the east of the country.
2003 – In Liberia mortar shells hit the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in the Monrovia, injuring at least three people. Fighting in the Liberian capital of Monrovia left over 600 dead.
2003 – The Saudi government announced that police arrested 16 al-Qaida-linked terror suspects over the last 4 days and used tractors to dig up an underground arsenal: 20 tons of bomb-making chemicals, detonators, rocket-propelled grenades and rifles.
2004 – In Afghanistan 10 militant fighters were killed and 5 wounded and captured when they attacked a US-led force near Kandahar.
2004 – Insurgents in Iraq said they have kidnapped 6 more foreign hostages, 3 Indians, 2 Kenyans and an Egyptian. They threatened to behead one every 72 hours unless their employer shuts down operations in Iraq.
2013 – ISIS organised a mass break-out of its members being held in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. Over 500 prisoners escaped, including senior commanders of the group. ISIS issued an online statement claiming responsibility for the prison break, describing the operation as involving 12 car bombs, numerous suicide bombers and mortar and rocket fire. It was the culmination of a one-year campaign called “destroying the walls”, which was launched on 21 July 2012 by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; the aim was to replenish the group’s ranks with comrades released from the prison.

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