1755 – General Edward Braddock was mortally wounded when French and Indian troops ambushed his force of British regulars and colonial militia, which was on its way to attack France’s Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh). Gen. Braddock’s troops were decimated at Fort Duquesne, where he refused to accept Washington’s advice on frontier style fighting. British Gen’l. Braddock gave his bloody sash to George Washington at Fort Necessity just before he died on Jul 13.
1776 – The Declaration of Independence was read aloud to Gen. George Washington’s troops in New York.
1776 – New York was the 13th colony to ratify the Declaration of Independence.
1795 – James Swan paid off the $2,024,899 US national debt.
1846 – An American naval captain occupies the small settlement of Yerba Buena, a site that will later be renamed San Francisco. Surprisingly, Europeans did not discover the spectacular San Francisco Bay until 1769, although several explorers had sailed by it in earlier centuries. When Spanish explorers finally found the bay in that year, they immediately recognized its strategic value. In 1776, the Spanish built a military post on the tip of the San Francisco peninsula and founded the mission of San Francisco de Asis (the Spanish name for Saint Francis of Assisi) nearby. The most northern outpost of the Spanish, and later Mexican, empire in America, the tiny settlement remained relatively insignificant for several decades. However, the potential of the magnificent harbor did not escape the attention of other nations. In 1835, the British Captain William Richardson established a private settlement on the shore of Yerba Buena Cove, several miles to the east of the Mexican mission. That same year the U.S. government offered to purchase the bay, but the Mexicans declined to sell. In retrospect, the Mexicans should have sold while they still had the chance. A little more than a decade later, a dispute between the U.S. and Mexico over western Texas led to war. Shortly after the Mexican War began, U.S. Captain John Montgomery sailed his warship into San Francisco Bay, anchoring just off the settlement of Yerba Buena. On this day in 1846, Montgomery led a party of marines and sailors ashore. They met no resistance and claimed the settlement for the United States, raising the American flag in the central plaza. The following year, the Americans renamed the village San Francisco. When the Mexicans formally ceded California to the United States in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe, San Francisco was still a small town with perhaps 900 occupants. That same year, however, gold was discovered at the nearby Sutter’s Fort. San Francisco became the gateway for a massive gold rush, and by 1852, the town was home to more than 36,000.
1850 – Zachary Taylor, the 12th president of the United States, dies suddenly from an attack of cholera morbus. He was succeeded by Millard Fillmore. Raised in Kentucky with little formal schooling, Zachary Taylor received a U.S. Army commission in 1808. He became a captain in 1810 and was promoted to major during the War of 1812 in recognition of his defense of Fort Harrison against attack by Shawnee chief Tecumseh. In 1832, he became a colonel and served in the Black Hawk War and in the campaigns against the Seminole Indians in Florida, winning the nickname of “Old Rough and Ready” for his informal attire and indifference to physical adversity. Sent to the Southwest to command the U.S. Army at the Texas border, Taylor crossed the Rio Grande with the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846. In May, Taylor defeated the Mexicans at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, and in September he captured the city of Monterrey. In February 1847, he achieved his crowning military victory at the Battle of Buena Vista, where his force triumphed despite being outnumbered three to one. This victory firmly established Taylor as a popular hero, and in 1848, despite his lack of a clear political platform, he was nominated the Whig presidential candidate. Elected in November, Taylor soon fell under the influence of William H. Seward, a powerful Whig senator, and in 1849 he supported the Wilmot Proviso, which would exclude slavery from all the territory acquired as a result of the Mexican War. His inflexible responses to Southern criticisms of this policy aggravated the nation’s North-South conflict and revealed his political inexperience. Matters were at a stalemate when he died suddenly on July 9, 1850.
1861 – Confederate cavalry led by John Morgan captured Tompkinsville, Kentucky. “The Yankees will never take me a prisoner again,” vowed Confederate General John Hunt Morgan.
1864 – Confederate General Jubal Early brushes a Union force out of his way as he heads for Washington. Early’s expedition towards the Union capital was designed to take pressure off Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia around Petersburg. Beginning in early May, Ulysses S. Grant’s Union army had continually attacked Lee and drove the Confederates into trenches around the Richmond-Petersburg area. In 1862, the Confederates faced a similar situation around Richmond, and they responded by sending General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson to the Shenandoah Valley to occupy Federal forces. The ploy worked well, and Jackson kept three separate Union forces away from the Confederate capital. Now, Lee sent Early on a similar mission. Early and his force of 14,000 marched down the Shenandoah Valley, crossed the Potomac into Maryland, and then veered southeast toward Washington. Union General Lew Wallace, commander of the Middle Department and stationed in Baltimore, patched together a force of 6,000 local militiamen and soldiers from various regiments to stall the Confederates while a division from Grant’s army around Petersburg arrived to protect Washington. Wallace placed his makeshift force along the Monocacy River near Frederick. Early in the morning of July 9, Early’s troops easily pushed a small Federal guard from Frederick before encountering the bulk of Wallace’s force along the river. Wallace protected three bridges over the river. One led to Baltimore, the other to Washington, and the third carried the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Early’s first attack was unsuccessful. A second assault, however, scattered the Yankees. The Union force retreated toward Baltimore, and the road to Washington was now open to Early and his army. Union losses for the day stood at 1,800, and Early lost 700 of his men. However, the battle delayed Early’s advance to Washington and allowed time for the Union to bring reinforcements from Grant’s army.
1892 – A stray 500-pound shell from the Sandy Hook, New Jersey, testing range sank the schooner Henry R. Tilton.
1900 – Marines helped in the capture of Tientsin Arsenal.
1941 – Crackerjack British cryptologists break the secret code used by the German army to direct ground-to-air operations on the Eastern front. British experts had already broken many of the Enigma codes for the Western front. Enigma was the Germans’ most sophisticated coding machine, necessary to secretly transmitting information. The Enigma machine, invented in 1919 by Hugo Koch, a Dutchman, looked like a typewriter and was originally employed for business purposes. The Germany army adapted the machine for wartime use and considered its encoding system unbreakable. They were wrong. The Brits had broken their first Enigma code as early as the German invasion of Poland and had intercepted virtually every message sent through the occupation of Holland and France. Britain nicknamed the intercepted messages Ultra. Now, with the German invasion of Russia, the Allies needed to be able to intercept coded messages transmitted on this second, Eastern, front. The first breakthrough occurred on July 9, regarding German ground-air operations, but various keys would continue to be broken by the Brits over the next year, each conveying information of higher secrecy and priority than the next. (For example, a series of decoded messages nicknamed “Weasel” proved extremely important in anticipating German anti-aircraft and antitank strategies against the Allies.) These decoded messages were regularly passed to the Soviet High Command regarding German troop movements and planned offensives, and back to London regarding the mass murder of Russian prisoners and Jewish concentration camp victims.
1942 – CGC McLane and the Coast Guard-manned patrol craft USS YP-251 reportedly sank the Japanese submarine RO-32 off Sitka, Alaska. However, the Navy Department did not officially credit either with the sinking. The RO-32 was actually stricken from the Japanese Navy rolls in April, 1942 as obsolete and Japanese records indicated that no Japanese submarine was lost or damaged in Alaskan waters on that date.
1943 – Operation Husky: The invasion of Sicily begins. The landing force is concentrated around Malta. There are 1200 transports and 2000 landing craft which will land elements of 8 divisions. In the evening, there are airborne landings by the US 82nd Airborne Division and British units which cause disruption in the Axis defenses, although they do not manage to seize their objectives. The Italian 6th Army (General Guzzoni) is responsible for the defense of Sicily. There are a total of about 240,000 troops (a quarter of which are Germans).
1943 – On New Georgia American forces attack toward Munda. Heavy Japanese resistance limits the advance. Meanwhile, Americans send reinforcements to Rendova and the Japanese send reinforcements to Kolombangara.
1944 – The US 1st Army continues attacks toward St. Lo.
1944 – Elements of US 5th Army advance. The US 88th Division captures Volterra and elements of the French Expeditionary Corps reach Poggibonsi.
1944 – On Saipan, US forces reach Point Marpi and the last organized Japanese resistance is overcome. An estimated 27,000 Japanese have been killed and 1780 are prisoners, both figures include civilians. US forces have lost 3400 killed and 13,000 wounded.
1945 – American bombers strike two airfields near Tokyo.
1945 – Chinese forces capture the Tanchuk airbase. Chinese forces advancing rapidly eastward in southern Kwangsi province have severed the last link between the Japanese army in China and the garrison in Indochina. With Nanning and Luichow recaptured, Chinese units now again control the three US 14th Army Air Force bases lost last year.
1946 – Sixteen Coast Guardsmen were killed when their C-54 transport aircraft crashed into Mount Tom, Massachusetts. These Coast Guardsmen were all returning from duty in Greenland.
1947 – In a ceremony held at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, General Dwight D. Eisenhower appoints Florence Blanchfield to be a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, making her the first woman in U.S. history to hold permanent military rank. A member of the Army Nurse Corps since 1917, Blanchfield secured her commission following the passage of the Army-Navy Nurse Act of 1947 by Congress. Blanchfield had served as superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps during World War II and was instrumental in securing passage of the Army-Navy Nurse Act, which was advocated by Representative Frances Payne Bolton. In 1951, Blanchfield received the Florence Nightingale Award from the International Red Cross. In 1978, a U.S. Army hospital in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was named in her honor.
1951 – President Truman asked Congress to formally end the state of war between the United States and Germany.
1952 – The 18th Return Draft departed Itami to board the USNS General M. C. Meigs at Kobe, Japan.
1960 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev trade verbal threats over the future of Cuba. In the following years, Cuba became a dangerous focus in the Cold War competition between the United States and Russia. In January 1959, Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro overthrew the long-time dictator Fulgencio Batista. Although the United States recognized the new Castro regime, many members of the Eisenhower administration harbored deep suspicions concerning the political orientation of the charismatic new Cuban leader. For his part, Castro was careful to avoid concretely defining his political beliefs during his first months in power. Castro’s actions, however, soon convinced U.S. officials that he was moving to establish a communist regime in Cuba. Castro pushed through land reform that hit hard at U.S. investors, expelled the U.S. military missions to Cuba, and, in early 1960, announced that Cuba would trade its sugar to Russia in exchange for oil. In March 1960, Eisenhower gave the CIA the go-ahead to arm and train a group of Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime. It was in this atmosphere that Eisenhower and Khrushchev engaged in some verbal sparring in July 1960. Khrushchev fired the first shots during a speech in Moscow. He warned that the Soviet Union was prepared to use its missiles to protect Cuba from U.S. intervention. “One should not forget,” the Soviet leader declared, “that now the United States is no longer at an unreachable distance from the Soviet Union as it was before.” He charged that the United States was “plotting insidious and criminal steps” against Cuba. In a statement issued to the press, Eisenhower responded to Khrushchev’s speech, warning that the United States would not countenance the “establishment of a regime dominated by international communism in the Western Hemisphere.” The Soviet Premier’s threat of retaliation demonstrated “the clear intention to establish Cuba in a role serving Soviet purposes in this hemisphere.” The relationship between the United States and Cuba deteriorated rapidly after the Eisenhower-Khrushchev exchange. The Castro regime accelerated its program of expropriating American-owned property. In response, the Eisenhower administration severed diplomatic relations with Cuba in January 1960. A little more than a year later, in April 1961, the CIA-trained force of Cuban refugees launched an assault on Cuba in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion. The invaders were killed or captured, the Castro government cemented its control in Cuba, and the Soviet Union became Cuba’s main source of economic and military assistance.
1966 – The Soviet Union sends a note to the U.S. embassy in Moscow charging that the air strikes on the port of Haiphong endangered four Soviet ships that were in the harbor. The United States rejected the Soviet protest on July 23, claiming, “Great care had been taken to assure the safety of shipping in Haiphong.” The Soviets sent a second note in August charging that bullets had hit a Russian ship during a raid on August 2, but the claim was rejected by the U.S. embassy on August 5. The Soviets complained on a number of occasions during the war, particularly when the bombing raids threatened to inhibit their ability to resupply the North Vietnamese.
1971 – Four miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), about 500 U.S. troops of the 1st Brigade, 5th Mechanized Division turn over Fire Base Charlie 2 to Saigon troops, completing the transfer of defense responsibilities for the border area. On the previous day, nearby Fire Base Alpha 4 had been turned over to the South Vietnamese. This was part of President Richard Nixon’s Vietnamization policy, which had been announced at a June 1969 conference at Midway Island. Under this program, the United States initiated a comprehensive effort to increase the combat capabilities of the South Vietnamese armed forces. As the South Vietnamese became more capable, responsibility for the fighting was gradually transferred from U.S. forces. Concurrent with this effort, there was a gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces.
1987 – In his third day of testimony on Capitol Hill, Lt. Col. Oliver North said he had shredded evidence as part of a planned cover-up of his role in the Iran-Contra affair.
1991 – Former CIA officer Alan D. Fiers pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges in the Iran-Contra affair.
1992 – The space shuttle Columbia landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, ending a two-week mission.
1996 – The Bosnian federation approved the merger of the Muslim and Croat armies. This clears the way for the US to begin training and shipping arms to Bosnian troops.
1997 – Leaders of 16 NATO nations met with 25 other countries in an unprecedented security summit in Madrid, Spain.
1999 – In Kosovo NATO peacekeepers identified a site in Ljubenic containing the remains of as many as 350 victims.
2000 – In Afghanistan Mary MacMakin was arrested for violating the Taliban ban on employing women. She led the ngo: “Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Support for Afghanistan,” (PARSA). MacMakin was released 3 days later ordered to leave the country with accusations of spying and trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.
2002 – Philippine officials said they had arrested a Filipino Muslim suspected of helping to procure more than a ton of explosives for al Qaeda-linked Islamic radicals accused of plotting to bomb U.S. targets in Singapore. A U.S-trained Philippine soldier and an undetermined number of Muslim rebels were killed in fierce fighting on southern Jolo island.
2002 – NATO troops arrested Radovan Stankovic (33), a former member of an elite Serb paramilitary unit, for allegedly running a house where women and girls were raped during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war.
2003 – It was reported that occupation authorities had eliminated all import taxes in Iraq and accelerated the closure of hundreds of local factories unable to compete with foreign goods. At the same time hundreds of millions of dollars was pumped in as cash payments to government workers.
2004 – A US Senate committee report said that flawed prewar intelligence fueled the Bush administration position that Saddam Hussein’s regime posed a serious threat to the US.
2004 – Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun (24)arrived in Germany night from Lebanon, where he turned up at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut a day earlier. He had been missing since June 20 from his base near the troubled Iraqi city of Fallujah.
2004 – In Baghdad, Iraq, 2 insurgent mortar shells targeting a hotel housing foreigners in the capital hit a house instead, killing a child and wounding three others.
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