This Day in U.S. Military History…… June 11

11 June
1517 – Sir Thomas Pert reached Hudson Bay.
1775 – The Battle of Machias (also known as the Battle of the Margaretta) was the first naval engagement of the American Revolutionary War. It took place in and around the port of Machias in what is now eastern Maine, and resulted in the capture by Patriot militia of a British schooner. Following the outbreak of the war and the start of the Siege of Boston, British authorities enlisted the assistance of Loyalist merchant Ichabod Jones to assist in the acquisition of needed supplies. Two of Jones’ merchant ships arrived in Machias on June 2, accompanied by the British armed sloop Margaretta, commanded by midshipman James Moore. The townspeople, unhappy with Jones’ business practices, decided to arrest him, and in the attempt, decided to go after Moore and his ship. Moore was able to escape out of the harbor, but the townspeople seized one of Jones’ ships, armed it and a second local ship, and sailed out to meet him. In a short confrontation, they captured Moore’s vessel and crew, fatally wounding him in the process.
1776 – A committee to draft the document of Independence met. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman and Thomas Jefferson were the members. They immediately delegated the writing to Adams and Jefferson, and Adams gave it over to Jefferson.
1788 – Searching for sea otter pelts and other furs, the Russian explorer Gerrasim Grigoriev Izmailov reaches the Alaskan coast, setting his ship in at Yakutat Bay. Although most Americans think of the exploration of the Far West as an affair that began in the East and proceeded westward, the opposite was true for Russians. In the far northern Pacific, Russia was separated from the North American continent only by the relatively manageable expanse of the Bering Sea. Czar Peter the Great and his successors commissioned journeys east to the coast of Alaska, including the 1741 voyage of Vitus Bering, whose name was given to the narrow strait that separates northern Alaska and Russia. Bering also brought back to Russia reports that sea otter pelts were abundant in the land they called Alaska, a Russian corruption of an Aleut word meaning “peninsula” or “mainland.” Russian fur trading companies were formed, and they soon became the semi-official exploratory representatives of the czars. By the late 19th century, British, Spanish, and American vessels were also sailing the waters off the coast of Alaska, and Russia became increasingly concerned about protecting its claims to the region. Gerrasim Grigoriev Izmailov joined the Russian effort to explore and claim Alaska in 1776, making a highly successful fur trading and trapping journey that netted a cargo worth some $86,000. Thereafter, he made numerous fur-gathering voyages to Alaska, sailing out of the port of Okhotsk on the Russian East Coast. By the late 1780s, Izmailov had become one of a small number of Russian captains with extensive experience sailing the Alaskan Coast. Eager to advance the Russian claim to Prince William Sound and the Alaskan coast, Izmailov’s backers sent him on an exploratory and diplomatic voyage into the region. Izmailov initially reached several islands off the coast where he erected large wooden crosses proclaiming the territory to be the property of Russia. He then proceeded eastward down the Alaskan coastline, finally putting into shore at Yakutat Bay on this day in 1788. At Yakutat Bay, Izmailov immediately began a peaceful and successful program of fur trading with the Tlingit Indians. He presented the Tlingit Chief Ilkhak with a portrait of Czar Paul, presumably suggesting that the far-off monarch should be viewed as the Tlingit’s new ruler. In a rather ineffective attempt to further solidify the Russian claim, Izmailov had two large copper plates marking “the extent of Russia’s domain” buried nearby. More a symbolic gesture than an actual assertion of ownership, they were designed to prove Russia had been the first western nation to arrive in the area. True Russian control over the region was not established until fur trading posts and settlements were constructed over the next few decades. After further exploring the Alaskan coast, Izmailov eventually returned to his homeport of Okhotsk, where he is thought to have died in around 1796. Although the Russians continued to consolidate their hold on Alaska during the first half of the 19th century, the claim had become tenuous and expensive to maintain by the 1860s. In 1867, Russia sold the region of Alaska to the United States for $7 million.
1823 – Major General James L. Kemper (d.1895), Confederate hero, was born. He fought at the battles of Williamsburg and Gettysburg.
1837 – The Broad Street Riot occurred in Boston, Massachusetts. The riot began when a company of Yankee firefighters met with an Irish funeral procession on Broad Street. Fire Engine Company 20 was returning from a fire in Roxbury. Many of the firefighters went to a saloon nearby. Afterwards, while traveling back to the firestation, George Fay either insulted or shoved members of a passing Irish funeral procession. The Irish and firemen began to fight, but under the orders of W.W. Miller, the firemen ran to the station. Miller sounded the emergency alarm, calling all of the fire engines in Boston. Although many of the Irish had left the scene, the fire companies continued to come as called. As the fight continued, local Yankees and Irishmen joined the row. Eventually 1000 people were included in the melee, though no one was killed. Several houses were broken into and vandalized, and the rioters launched rocks and other missiles at each other. The fight was broken up when Mayor Samuel A. Eliot commanded 10 companies from the military to patrol the neighborhoods surrounding Broad Street.
1853 – Five Navy ships leave Norfolk, VA on 3 year exploring expedition to survey the far Pacific.
1859 – Comstock silver load was discovered near Virginia City, Nevada. Prospector James Finney stumbled across thick, bluish clay in western Nevada. A fellow minor, Henry Comstock, gave his name to the lode, the most lucrative silver ore mine in history. Ott’s Assay Office in Nevada City, Ca., first assayed samples of the rich Comstock Lode of Nevada. Four Irishmen known as the Bonanza Kings bought up shares in the Comstack mines and became rich. They were John Mackay, James Fair, James Flood, and William O’Brian. Ore from the Comstock lode was hauled by horse-drawn wagon over Donner Pass to SF.
1861 – Union forces under General George B. McClellen repulsed a Confederate force at Rich Mountain in Western Virginia.
1862 – C.S.S. Virginia blown up by her crew off Craney Island to avoid capture. The fall of Norfolk to Union forces denied Virginia her base, and when it was discovered that she drew too much water to be brought up the James River, Flag Officer Tattnall ordered the celebrated ironclad’s destruc¬tion. “Thus perished the Virginia,” Tattnall wrote, “and with her many highflown hopes of naval supremacy and success.” For the Union, the end of Virginia not only removed the formid¬able threat to the large base at Fort Monroe, but gave Flag Officer Goldsborough’s fleet free passage up the James River as far as Drewry’s Bluff, a factor which was to save the Peninsular Campaign from probable disaster.
1864 – Confederate cavalry intercepts General Phillip Sheridan’s Union cavalry as it seeks to destroy a rail line. A two-day battle ensued in which the Confederates drove off the Yankees with minimal damage to a precious supply line. Shortly after the Battle of Cold Harbor earlier in the month, Union General Ulysses S. Grant dispatched Sheridan, his cavalry commander, to ride towards Charlottesville and cut the Virginia Central Railroad. The line was supplying Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, which was engaged in a life-or-death struggle with Grant’s Army of the Potomac around Richmond and Petersburg. Sheridan swung north around Richmond and headed toward Charlottesville, 60 miles northwest of Richmond. General Wade Hampton, commander of the Confederate cavalry since General J.E.B. Stuart had died the previous month, heard of Sheridan’s move and set out to intercept the Yankees. On the morning of June 11, Union General George Custer’s men attacked Hampton’s supply train near Trevilian Station. Although they scored an initial success, Custer soon found himself almost completely surrounded by Rebel cavalry. Custer formed his men into a triangle and made several counterattacks before Sheridan came to his rescue in the late afternoon, taking 500 Southern prisoners in the process. The struggle continued the next day. With his ammunition running low and his cavalry dangerously far from its supply line, Sheridan eventually withdrew his force and returned to the Army of the Potomac. The Yankees tore up about five miles of rail line, but the damage was relatively light for the high number of casualties. Sheridan lost 735 men compared to nearly 1,000 for Hampton. But the Confederates had driven off the Yankees and minimized damage to the railroad.
1865 – Major General Henry W. Halleck found documents and archives of the Confederate government in Richmond, Virginia. This discovery led to the publication of the official war records.
1918 – A Marine assault following artillery bombardment succeeds in capturing two-thirds of Belleau Wood, but with heavy casualties. A battalion commander, Lt. Col. Frederick Wise erroneously reports his men were in control of the woods, but has misread his maps and position. Brigade Commander James Harbord requests relief for his men reporting their near physical exhaustion.
1927 – USS Memphis arrives at Washington, DC, with Charles Lindbergh and his plane, Spirit of St. Louis, after his non-stop flight across the Atlantic.
1934 – The Disarmament Conference in Geneva ended in failure.
1935 – Inventor Edwin Armstrong gives the first public demonstration of FM broadcasting in the United States at Alpine, New Jersey.
1941 – Amendment to act creating Coast Guard (January 28, 1915) provided “The Coast Guard shall be a military service and constitute a branch of the land and naval forces of the United States at all times.”
1942 – Soviet Ambassador Litvinov and US Secretary of State Hull sign an additional Lend-Lease agreement between the US and the USSR.
1943 – The bombardment of the Italian island of Pantelleria continues. More than 5000 tons of bombs have been dropped on the island in the last month. Pantelleria’s 11,000-strong Italian garrison surrenders without a fight on the approach of an Allied assault force. The damage done by the lengthy, intensive bombardment is less than has been expected.
1944 – USS Missouri (BB-63) the last battleship built by the United States Navy and future site of the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, is commissioned.
1944 – Five days after the D-Day landing, the five Allied landing groups, made up of some 330,000 troops, link up in Normandy to form a single solid front across northwestern France. On June 6, 1944, after a year of meticulous planning conducted in secrecy by a joint Anglo-American staff, the largest combined sea, air, and land military operation in history began on the French coast at Normandy. The Allied invasion force included 3 million men, 13,000 aircraft, 1,200 warships, 2,700 merchant ships, and 2,500 landing craft. Fifteen minutes after midnight on June 6, the first of 23,000 U.S., British, and Canadian paratroopers and glider troops plunged into the darkness over Normandy. Just before dawn, Allied aircraft and ships bombed the French coast along the Baie de la Seine, and at daybreak the bombardment ended as 135,000 Allied troops stormed ashore at five landing sites. Despite the formidable German coastal defenses, beachheads were achieved at all five landing locations. At one site–Omaha Beach–German resistance was especially strong, and the Allied position was only secured after hours of bloody fighting by the Americans assigned to it. By the evening, some 150,000 American, British, and Canadian troops were ashore, and the Allies held about 80 square miles. During the next five days, Allied forces in Normandy moved steadily forward in all sectors against fierce German resistance. On June 11, the five landing groups met up, and Operation Overlord–the code name for the Allied invasion of northwestern Europe–proceeded as planned.
1944 – U.S. battleships off Normandy provide gunfire support.
1944 – Elements of the French Expeditionary Corps (part of US 5th Army) capture Montefiascone, west of Viterbo. Force of the British 8th Army, inland, are engaged near Cantalupo and Bagnoregio.
1944 – The US 15th Air Force, operating from bases in Italy, raids the airfield at Focsani, Romania. The aircraft fly on to Soviet held territory in the first “shuttle” run of this sort.
1944 – US Task Force 58 (Admiral Mitscher) begins raids against Japanese bases on Saipan, Tinian and other islands. TF58 has 9 fleet carriers and 6 light carriers. Task Group 58.7 (Admiral Lee) provides escort. An estimated 36 Japanese planes are shot down. Task Group 58.4 attacks shipping in the area. The Japanese lose 3 minor warships and about 30,000 tons of merchant transport by the aircraft. The operations are overseen by Admiral Spruance, commanding the Central Pacific Area, on board the cruiser Indianapolis.
1945 – On Okinawa, the Japanese pocket in the Oroku Peninsula has been reduce to perimeter measurable in yards but their resistance remains fanatical. An assault by the US 1st Marine Division (US 3rd Amphibious Corps) fails to capture Kunishi Ridge. A regiment of the US 96th Division reaches the town of Yuza but is forced to withdraw by intensive Japanese fire. An important height east of Mount Yaeju is capture by American forces.
1945 – On Luzon, fighting at Orioung Pass continues as Japanese forces continue to hold the US 37th Division.
1951 – Elements of the 3rd Infantry Division captured Chorwon.
1963 – Facing federalized Alabama National Guard troops, Alabama Governor George Wallace ends his blockade of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and allows two African American students to enroll. George Wallace, one of the most controversial politicians in U.S. history, was elected governor of Alabama in 1962 under an ultra-segregationist platform. In his 1963 inaugural address, he promised his white followers: “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” When African American students attempted to desegregate the University of Alabama in June 1963, Alabama’s new governor, flanked by state troopers, literally blocked the door of the enrollment office. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, had declared segregation unconstitutional in 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education, and the executive branch undertook aggressive tactics to enforce the ruling. On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy federalized National Guard troops and deployed them to the University of Alabama to force its desegregation. The next day, Governor Wallace yielded to the federal pressure, and two African American students–Vivian Malone and James A. Hood–successfully enrolled. In September of the same year, Wallace again attempted to block the desegregation of an Alabama public school–this time Tuskegee High School in Huntsville–but President Kennedy once again employed his executive authority and federalized National Guard troops. Wallace had little choice but to yield.

1963 – Buddhist monk Quang Duc publically burns himself in a plea for Diem to show ‘charity and compassion’ to all religions. Diem remains stubborn, despite repeated US requests, and his special committee of inquiry confirms his contention that the Vietcong are responsible for the Hue incident. More Buddhist monks immolate themselves during the ensuing weeks. Madame Nhu refers to the burnings as ‘barbecues’ and offers to supply matches.
1964 – World War II veteran Walter Seifert runs amok in an elementary school in Cologne, Germany, killing at least eight children and two teachers and seriously injuring several more with a home-made flamethrower and a lance.
1966 – Defense Secretary McNamara discloses that another 18,000 troops will be sent to Vietnam, raising the US commitment there to 285,000 men.
1967 – There was a race riot in Tampa Florida and the National Guard was mobilized.
1967 – Israel and Syria accepted a UN cease-fire. The UN brokered a cease-fire between Israel and the defeated Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, ending the Six-Day War with Israel occupying the Sinai, West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
1969 – Communist forces stage heavy ground attacks on two US bases south of Danang. Vietcong troops at a base at Tamky, 35 miles south of Danang, cut through the base defense perimeter and fight the defenders hand-to-hand.
1970 – The United States presence in Libya came to an end as the last detachment left Wheelus Air Base.
1970 – After being appointed on May 15, Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington officially receive their ranks as U.S. Army Generals, becoming the first females to do so.
1970 – A force of 4,000 South Vietnamese and 2,000 Cambodian soldiers battle 1,400 communist troops for control of the provincial capital of Kompong Speu, 30 miles southwest of Phnom Penh. At 50 miles inside the border, it was the deepest penetration that South Vietnamese forces had made into Cambodia since the incursion began on April 29. The town was captured by the communists on June 13, but retaken by Allied forces on June 16. South Vietnamese officials reported that 183 enemy soldiers were killed, while 4 of their own died and 22 were wounded during the fighting. Civilian casualties in Kompong Speu were estimated at 40 to 50 killed.
1989 – The government of China issued a warrant for the arrest of dissident Fang Lizhi, who had taken refuge inside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
1990 – A federal judge sentenced former national security adviser John M. Poindexter to six months in prison for making false statements to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair. However, Poindexter’s convictions were later overturned.
1991 – Microsoft released MS DOS 5.0.
1993 – North Korea pulled Asia back from the brink of a possible nuclear arms race by reversing its decision to withdraw from a treaty preventing spread of nuclear weapons.
1993 – US troops participate in a retalitory strike against Aidid’s forces for the June 5 ambush. The UN strikes a second heavy follow-up blow against Aidid. US Special Operations AC-130 Spectre gunships attack six targets in capital city of Mogadishu.
1994 – The United States, South Korea and Japan agreed to seek punitive steps against North Korea over its nuclear program.
1997 – Pres. Clinton announced that the US would only support Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for NATO membership for now.
1999 – The US and Libya engaged in their first official meeting in 18 years. The US stipulated conditions to be met prior to the lifting of sanctions.
1999 – Cheering residents of Prokuplje, Kosovo, throw flowers onto several dozen Yugoslav army vehicles heading out of the province as NATO troops massed across the border in Macedonia.
2001 – Timothy McVeigh (33) was executed by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terra Haute, Ind., for the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing. For his final statement he issue a hand-written copy of “Invictus,” a poem written in 1875 by William Ernest Henley, whose last 2 lines read “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
2001 – Saudi Arabia announces that it has seized ownership of the 1.6-millionbarrel-per-day IPSA pipeline that had carried Iraqi crude oil to the Saudi Red Sea port of Mu’jiz prior to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The seizure includes pumping stations, storage tanks, and the maritime terminal. Saudi Arabia claims that the asset was confiscated as a result of aggressive Iraqi actions. Iraq insists that it still owns the pipeline.
2002 – Afghanistan’s former king attended a long-awaited Loya Jirga, accompanied by leaders of Hamid Karzai’s interim government in a show of unity for a tribal assembly. The assembly was delayed by 1 day as Zahir Shah renounced any potential post.
2002 – Moroccan police arrested three Saudi nationals who were allegedly planning attacks against U.S. and British war ships in the Strait of Gibraltar, key government officials said Monday. They were identified as: Hilal Jaber al-Assiri, Abdellah Ali al-Ghamdi and Zuher al-Tbaiti.
2003 – The US military launched a massive operation to crush opposition north of Baghdad and captured nearly 400 suspected Saddam Hussein loyalists in a bid to end daily attacks against American soldiers.
2004 – Terry Nichols escaped execution as the District court jury in McAlester, Oklahoma, deadlocked in the penalty phase of his trial. He was convicted May 26 on 161 counts of 1st degree murder in the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building bombing.
2004 – The Cassini spacecraft flew within 1,285 miles of Phoebe, one of the outer moons of Saturn.
2004 – A new audiotape, was broadcast on the Arab satellite station Al-Arabiya alleges that a U.S. plan for reform in the Middle East is really a bid to replace Arab leaders. It was believed to be from al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri.

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