This Day in U.S. Military History…… July 3

3 July
1775 – On Cambridge common in Massachusetts, George Washington rides out in front of the American troops gathered there, draws his sword, and formally takes command of the Continental Army. Washington, a prominent Virginia planter and veteran of the French and Indian War, was appointed commander in chief by the Continental Congress two weeks before. In serving the American colonies in their war for independence, he declined to accept payment for his services beyond reimbursement of future expenses. George Washington was born in 1732 to a farm family in Westmoreland County, Virginia. His first direct military experience came as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia colonial militia in 1754, when he led a small expedition against the French in the Ohio River valley on behalf of the governor of Virginia. Two years later, Washington took command of the defenses of the western Virginian frontier during the French and Indian War. After the war’s fighting moved elsewhere, he resigned from his military post, returned to a planter’s life, and took a seat in Virginia’s House of Burgesses. During the next two decades, Washington openly opposed the escalating British taxation and repression of the American colonies. In 1774, he represented Virginia at the Continental Congress. After the American Revolution erupted in 1775, Washington was nominated to be commander in chief of the newly established Continental Army. Some in the Continental Congress opposed his appointment, thinking other candidates were better equipped for the post, but he was ultimately chosen because as a Virginian his leadership helped bind the Southern colonies more closely to the rebellion in New England. With his inexperienced and poorly equipped army of civilian soldiers, General Washington led an effective war of harassment against British forces in America while encouraging the intervention of the French into the conflict on behalf of the colonists. On October 19, 1781, with the surrender of British General Charles Lord Cornwallis’ massive British army at Yorktown, Virginia, General Washington had defeated one of the most powerful nations on earth. After the war, the victorious general retired to his estate at Mount Vernon, but in 1787 he heeded his nation’s call and returned to politics to preside over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The drafters created the office of president with him in mind, and in February 1789 Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the United States. As president, Washington sought to unite the nation and protect the interests of the new republic at home and abroad. Of his presidency, he said, “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn in precedent.” He successfully implemented executive authority, making good use of brilliant politicians such as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in his Cabinet, and quieted fears of presidential tyranny. In 1792, he was unanimously reelected but four years later refused a third term. He died in 1799.
1778 – The Wyoming Massacre occurred during the American Revolution in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. As part of a British campaign against settlers in the frontier during the war, 360 American settlers, including women and children, were killed at an outpost called Wintermoot’s Fort after they were drawn out of the protection of the fort and ambushed.
1844 – Ambassador Caleb Cushing successfully negotiated a commercial treaty with China that opened five Chinese ports to U.S. merchants and protected the rights of American citizens in China.
1861 – US Colonel Jackson received his CSA commission as brigadier general.
1863 – Troops under Confederate General George Pickett begin a massive attack against the center of the Union lines at Gettysburg on the climactic third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the largest engagement of the war. General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia encountered George Meade’s Army of the Potomac in Pennsylvania and battered the Yankees for two days. The day before Pickett’s charge, the Confederates had hammered each flank of the Union line but could not break through. Now, on July 3, Lee decided to attack the Union center, stationed on Cemetery Ridge, after making another unsuccessful attempt on the Union right flank at Culp’s Hill in the morning. The majority of the force consisted of Pickett’s division, but there were other units represented among the 15,000 attackers. After a long Confederate artillery bombardment, the Rebel force moved through the open field and up the slight rise of Cemetery Ridge. But by the time they reached the Union line, the attack had been broken into many small units, and they were unable to penetrate the Yankee center. The failed attack effectively ended the battle of Gettysburg. On July 4, Lee began to withdraw his forces to Virginia. The casualties for both armies were staggering. Lee lost 28,000 of his 75,000 soldiers, and Union losses stood at over 22,000. It was the last time Lee threatened Northern territory.
1863 – Major General Grant and Lieutenant General Pemberton, CSA, the gallant and tireless commander of the Vicksburg defenses, arranged an armistice to negotiate the terms of capitulation of the citadel. Only with the cessation of hostilities did the activity of the fleet under Rear Admiral Porter come to a halt off Vicksburg.
1863 – Battle of Donaldsonville, LA.
1864 – Battle of Chattahoochee River, GA, began and lasted until Jul 9.
1864 – At Harpers Ferry, WV, Federals evacuated in face of Early’s advance.
1890 – Idaho, the last of the 50 states to be explored by whites, is admitted to the union. Exploration of the North American continent mostly proceeded inward from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and northward from Spanish Mexico. Therefore, the rugged territory that would become Idaho long remained untouched by Spanish, French, British, and American trappers and explorers. Even as late as 1805, Idaho Indians like the Shoshone had never encountered a white man. That changed with the arrival of the American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in the summer of 1805. Searching for a route over the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River, Lewis and Clark traveled through Idaho with the aid of the Shoshone Indians and their horses. British fur traders and trappers followed a few years later, as did missionaries and a few hardy settlers. As with many remote western states, large-scale settlement began only after gold was discovered. Thousands of miners rushed into Idaho when word of a major gold strike came in September 1860. Merchants and farmers followed, eager to make their fortunes “mining the miners.” By 1880, Idaho boasted a population of 32,610. In the southern section of the territory, many settlers were Mormons who had been dispatched from Salt Lake City to found new colonies. Increasingly, Idaho territory became divided between a Mormon-dominated south and an anti-Mormon north. In the mid-1880s, anti-Mormon Republicans used widespread public antipathy toward the Mormon practice of polygamy to pass legislation denying the predominantly Democratic Mormons the vote. With the Democratic Mormon vote disarmed, Idaho became a Republican-dominated territory. National Republicans eager to increase their influence in the U.S. Congress began to push for Idaho statehood in 1888. The following year, the Idaho territorial legislature approved a strongly anti-Mormon constitution. The U.S. Congress approved the document on this day in 1890, and Idaho became the 43rd state in the Union.
1898 – The Spanish cruisers Cristóbal Colón, Almirante Oquendo, Vizcaya and Infanta Maria Teresa, and two torpedo-boat destroyers, lay bottled up in Santiago Harbor, with seven American ships maintaining a blockade just outside. Without warning, the Spanish squadron attempted to break out, and the Americans attacked, sinking one torpedo boat and immediately running the other aground. The Americans gave chase to Oquendo, Vizcaya and Colón. After a brief battle, all the Spanish warships were overtaken, with only two American causalities, both from the U.S. armored cruiser Brooklyn.
1903 – The first cable across the Pacific Ocean was spliced between Honolulu, Midway, Guam and Manila. Teddy Roosevelt placed the atoll of Midway Island under Navy supervision. The Commercial Pacific Cable Co. (later AT&T) set cable across the Pacific via Midway Island and the first around the world message was sent. The message took 9 minutes to circle the globe.
1905 – An Executive Order extended the jurisdiction of the Lighthouse Service to the noncontiguous territory of the American Samoan Island.
1915 – US military forces occupied Haiti, and remained until 1934.
1927 – Ensign Charles L. Duke, in command of CG-2327, boarded the rumrunner Greypoint in New York harbor and single-handedly captured the vessel, its 22-man crew, and its cargo of illegal liquor.
1930 – Congress created the U.S. Veterans Administration.
1943 – During the day, the Australians link up with the Americans from the Nassau Bay landing force in the Bitoi River region.
1943 – On New Georgia, American forces land at Zanana, about 8 miles east of Munda. There is no Japanese resistance and the beachhead is quickly consolidated.
1944 – Forces of the US 1st Army launch an offensive drive south from the Cotentin Peninsula with the objective of reaching a line from Coutances to St. Lo. The difficult terrain and poor weather contribute to a limited advance during the day toward St. Jean de Daye and La Haye du Puits. German forces resist.
1944 – Troops of the French Expeditionary Corps (part of US 5th Army) capture Siena. Other elements of the 5th Army reach Rosignano. Forces of the British 8th Army take Cortona.
1945 – The first American occupation troops arrive in Berlin. Meanwhile, Ernst Wilhelm Bohle, nominated by Hitler in 1940 to be Gauleiter of Britain, is captured by Allied troops.
1945 – American B-29 bombers attack Himeji, on Honshu, and the towns of Takamatsu, Tokushima and Kochi, on Shikoku Island, to the south of Honshu.
1947 – Soviet Union didn’t partake in the Marshall Plan.
1950 – USS Valley Forge and HMS Triumph participate in first carrier action of Korean Conflict. VF-51 aircraft (Valley Forge) shoot down 2 North Korean aircraft. The action is first combat test of F9F Panther and AD Skyraider.
1950 – Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Leonard H. Plog, flying a F9F Panther jet fighter, shot down a Yak-9P, claiming the first U.S. Navy aerial victory of the Korean War.
1968 – The U.S. command in Saigon releases figures showing that more Americans were killed during the first six months of 1968 than in all of 1967. These casualty figures were a direct result of the heavy fighting that had occurred during, and immediately after, the communist Tet Offensive. The offensive had begun on January 30, when communist forces attacked Saigon, Hue, five of six autonomous cities, 36 of 44 provincial capitals, and 64 of 245 district capitals. The timing and magnitude of the attacks caught the South Vietnamese and American forces completely off guard, but eventually the Allied forces turned the tide. Militarily, the Tet Offensive was a disaster for the communists. By the end of March 1968, they had not achieved any of their objectives and had lost 32,000 soldiers with 5,800 captured. U.S. forces suffered 3,895 dead; South Vietnamese losses were 4,954; non-U.S. allies lost 214. More than 14,300 South Vietnamese civilians died. Though the offensive was a crushing military defeat for the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese, early reports of a smashing communist victory went largely uncorrected in the U.S. news media. This was a great psychological victory for the communists. The heavy U.S. casualties incurred during the offensive, coupled with the disillusionment over the earlier overly optimistic reports of progress in the war, accelerated the growing disenchantment with President Johnson’s conduct of the war. Johnson, frustrated with his inability to reach a solution in Vietnam, announced on March 31, 1968, that he would neither seek nor accept the nomination of his party for re-election.
1986 – President Reagan presided over a gala ceremony in New York Harbor that saw the relighting of the renovated Statue of Liberty.
1988 – In the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy cruiser Vincennes shoots down an Iranian passenger jet that it mistakes for a hostile Iranian fighter aircraft. Two missiles were fired from the American warship–the aircraft was hit, and all 290 people aboard were killed. The attack came near the end of the Iran-Iraq War, when U.S. vessels were in the gulf defending Kuwaiti oil tankers. Minutes before Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down, the Vincennes had engaged Iranian gunboats that shot at its helicopter. Iran called the downing of the aircraft a “barbaric massacre,” but U.S. officials defended the action, claiming that the aircraft was outside the commercial jet flight corridor, flying at only 7,800 feet, and was on a descent toward the Vincennes. However, one month later, U.S. authorities acknowledged that the airbus was in the commercial flight corridor, flying at 12,000 feet, and not descending. The U.S. Navy report blamed crew error caused by psychological stress on men who were in combat for the first time. In 1996, the U.S. agreed to pay $62 million in damages to the families of the Iranians killed in the attack.
1996 – US Secret Service agents claimed to have broken up an operation by a New York couple that used monitoring equipment to steal 80,000 cellular phone numbers and id codes from motorists on an expressway that passed their apartment building.
1996 – Lockheed Martin Corp. won a $1 bil federal contract to build the next-generation space shuttle.
2000 – A 1970’s steel observation tower that preservationists said had desecrated the battlefield of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania was demolished.
2001 – The last parts of the US spy plane in China were flown out.
2002 – It was reported that Operation Xtermination, a drug investigation at Camp Lejeune, NC, seized over $1.4 million in drugs and convicted over 80 marines and sailors.
2002 – Chinese police found Wang Bingzhang, a pro-democracy activist and US resident, in Guangxi Province. He had been recently kidnapped with 2 others in Vietnam.
2002 – In Pakistan security forces killed 4 al Qaeda fighters near the Afghan border at Germa. 3 security men were killed. A land dispute broke out in Northern Waziristan near the Afghan border and 21 people were killed.
2002 – The first of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSSTs), MSST-91101 was commissioned in Seattle, Washington on 3 July 2002. MSSTs were created in response to the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on 11 September 2001. MSSTs are domestic, mobile units that possess specialized training and capabilities to perform a broad spectrum of port safety and security operations. They were designed to offer operational commanders with a quick response capability that would meet changing threats in the nation’s harbors, ports, and internal waterways and to enforce moving and fixed security zones to protect commercial high interest vessels, U.S. Navy high value assets, and critical waterside infrastructure. Twelve MSST units were planned for deployment around the nation.
2003 – The US military commander in Europe was ordered to begin planning for possible American intervention in Liberia.
2003 – US troops killed 11 Iraqis who ambushed a convoy outside Baghdad.
2014 – ISIS captured Syria’s largest oilfield from rival Islamist fighters, Al-Nusra Front, who put up no resistance to the attack. Taking control of the al-Omar oilfield gave ISIS access to potentially useful crude oil reserves.

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