This Day in U.S. Military History…… June 16

16 June
1745 – English fleet occupied Cape Breton on St. Lawrence River.
1755 – British captured Fort Beausejour and expelled the Acadians. The Accadians of Nova Scotia were uprooted by an English governor and forced to leave. Some 10,000 people moved to destinations like Maine and Louisiana. Some moved to Iles-de-la-Madeleine off Quebec. The Longfellow story “Evangeline” is based on this displacement.
1775 – American Col. William Prescott led 1200 men from Cambridge to dig in at Bunker’s Hill but arrived at night and dug in at Breed’s Hill. A siege on Boston by Colonial militia generals John Stark and Israel Putnam prompted the British to attack.
1775 – The post of Adjutant General was established June 16, 1775, and has been continuously in operation since that time. The Adjutant General’s Department, by that name, was established by the act of March 3, 1813, and was redesignated the Adjutant General’s Corps in 1950.
1775 – Continental Congress authority for a “Chief Engineer for the Army” was passed. A corps of Engineers for the United States was authorized by the Congress on March 11, 1779. The Corps of Engineers as it is known today came into being on March 16, 1802, when the President was authorized to “organize and establish a Corps of Engineers … that the said Corps … shall be stationed at West Point in the State of New York and shall constitute a Military Academy.” A Corps of Topographical Engineers, authorized on July 4, 1838, was merged with the Corps of Engineers on March 1863.
1775 – The Finance Corps is the successor to the old Pay Department, which was created in June 1775. The Finance Department was created by law on July 1, 1920. It became the Finance Corps in 1950.
1775 – The Quartermaster Corps, originally designated the Quartermaster Department, was established on June 16, 1775. While numerous additions, deletions, and changes of function have occurred, its basic supply and service support functions have continued in existence.
1779 – Spain, in support of the US, declared war on England.
1856 – James Strang, king of Big Beaver Island, Mich., was ambushed by Thomas Bedford and Alexander Wentworth. They shot him three times and then pistol-whipped him and fled to Mackinac on the USS Michigan. Bedfrod and Wentworth were brought before a justice of the peace and after a brief hearing were fined $1.25 for court costs and released as public heroes. Soon after, 75 vigilantes sailed to Beaver Island and cleared out the Strangite adherents.
1861 – A Union attempt to capture Charleston, South Carolina, is thwarted when the Confederates turn back an attack at Secessionville, just south of the city on James Island. In November 1861, Union ships captured Port Royal, which lay about halfway between Charleston and Savannah. This gave the Federals an important base from which to mount operations along the southern coast. Before dawn on June 16, Yankee General Henry W. Benham led 9,000 troops onto James Island. Benham had a checkered career as a commander. He helped clear western Virginia of Confederates in the summer of 1861 but was ordered arrested by General William Rosecrans for “unofficer-like neglect of duty” because he was headstrong and critical of leadership. Eventually, he and Rosecrans made amends, and in the spring of 1862 Benham was sent to Port Royal to command the northern district of General David Hunter’s Department of the South. Benham decided to attack the strong fortifications that protected Confederates under the command of General Nathan “Shanks” Evans. But the Rebels’ fortifications were nearly impenetrable. The approach to the fort was across a strip of firm ground bracketed by marshes, which narrowed the ground that the Confederate artillery needed to cover. Only 500 Confederates were inside, but another 1,500 rushed in from Charleston. Benham staged three attacks against the fort, but each failed. The Federals lost nearly 800 men, while the Southerners suffered only 200 losses. After the disastrous battle, Union officials began pointing fingers, and Benham was arrested three days later. His superior, Hunter, had ordered no assault without permission. There was disagreement between Benham and his three subordinates over plans to attack. The three later said they had presented objections on the eve of the battle, but an aide to Benham said there had been no such discussion. Benham blamed one of his commanders, Isaac Stephens, for the botched charge. The Judge Advocate General’s Office recommended revocation of Benham’s commission. But the aggressiveness he possessed was in short supply among Union generals in 1862, and the Lincoln administration rescinded the revocation. Benham joined Ulysses S. Grant for the Vicksburg campaign, and he commanded the Army of the Potomac’s engineering brigade during Grant’s Virginia campaign against Robert E. Lee in 1864.
1862 – Union naval squadron under Commander S.P. Lee in U.S.S. Oneida, advancing up the Mississippi River toward Vicksburg, shelled Grand Gulf, Mississippi.
1863 – Acting Master John C. Bunner, U.S.S. New Era, obtained a report that Confederate troops “meditated an attack on either Columbus, Hickman, Island 10, or New Madrid. . . “ Bunner at once proceeded above Island No. 10, found and destroyed nine boats and flats. He reported: “I do not think the enemy can procure transportation enough to attack the island with any hope of success, but am careful that none at all shall remain at his service in this vicinity.”
1864 – Siege of Petersburg and Richmond began after a moonlight skirmish.
1864 – Battle of Lynchburg, VA.
1864 – U.S.S. Commodore Perry, Acting Lieutenant A. P. Foster, shelled Fort Clifton, Virginia, at the request of Major General Butler. Bombardment by the ship’s heavy guns was almost a daily part of continuing naval support of Army operations along the James River.
1890 – Because of ailments he contracted during an arduous exploration of the Alaskan frontier, Fred Fickett retires from the military to become a civilian lawyer. A native of Maine, Fickett enlisted as a private in the Army Signal Corps in 1882. By chance, he was assigned to duty in Alaska, a massive and largely unexplored territory the U.S. had bought from Russia in 1867. After two years stationed at Sitka, Alaska, where he learned the science of meteorology, Fickett was reassigned to Portland, Oregon, the headquarters of the Army’s Department of the Columbia, which included the territory of Alaska. In 1885, the leaders of the Department of the Columbia ordered Lieutenant Henry T. Allen to mount an expedition into the little-known interior of Alaska. Learning of Fickett’s experience in Alaska and skill as a meteorologist, Allen had the private assigned to the expedition. With one more enlisted man and two prospectors, Allen’s small band headed into the Copper River basin of Alaska in March 1885. Fickett’s scientific duties were challenging from the start. Harsh weather often made it difficult for him to make meteorological observations. Indians eventually stole his hygrometer, and his barometer was “rendered useless by the natives who were curious to understand the nature of its interior construction.” The rugged country and monotonous provisions sapped his energy and caused sickness. After a few months of “indescribable hardships and privations,” all of the men came down with scurvy. Despite the difficulties, Fickett continued to make scientific observations of the Alaskan environment. He later concluded that despite the harsh conditions, vegetables might be successfully grown in the region during the short but sunny Alaskan summer. By June, the other members of the party had returned to civilization, but Allen and Fickett continued onward. The two men traveled overland to the headwaters of the Koyukuk River and then descended the river in canoes. Still suffering from illness, they reached the town of St. Michael on the coast in late August. In one short summer, they had charted three major river systems covering about 1,500 miles of wilderness. Fickett returned to the United States by steamboat. He stayed in the Army Signal Corps for five more years before requesting and receiving an honorable discharge on this day in 1890. That same year, he published an account of his adventure, Narratives of Explorations in Alaska. His health had been permanently weakened by the ailments he contracted in Alaska, so Fickett moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he practiced law and managed mining operations. He died in 1928 at the age of 70.
1897 – The US government signed a treaty of annexation with Hawaii.
1898 – U.S. squadron bombards Santiago, Cuba.
1922 – Henry Berliner demonstrated his helicopter to US Bureau of Aeronautics.
1933 – The National Industrial Recovery Act became law. It was later struck down by the Supreme Court.
1941 – President Roosevelt orders that all German and Italian consulates in the country should be closed, along with the offices of other German agencies.
1941 – The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade was activated for duty in Iceland.
1943 – US fighters from Henderson Field claim to have shot down 93 Japanese aircraft from a force attacking shipping assembled for operations against New Georgia Island.
1943 – Operation Husky. The first convoys bound for the invasion of Sicily leave port.
1944 – Forces of the US 5th Army take Grosseto, Italy.
1944 – Elements of the US 1st Army, advancing westward, cross the Douvre River and capture St. Saveur in the Cotentin Peninsula.
1944 – US battleships, under the command of Admiral Ainsworth, shell Guam. The invasion of the island is deferred, however, because of the approach of the Japanese fleet. On Saipan, the elements of US 5th Amphibious Corps link the two beachheads by capturing Charan Karoa and Afetna Point. There is substantial use of artillery by the Japanese and American counter battery fire in addition to the infantry combat.
1944 – Admiral Clark leads two groups of US carrier forces raiding Iwo Jima, Chichi Jima and Haha Jima. The Japanese fleets link up and refuel. US patrols make two sightings.
1945 – On Okinawa, Mount Yuza is captured by the US 381st Infantry Regiment. Fighting continues on the south of the island. At sea, the Japanese air offensive against American ships slackens, but the Japanese still sink 1 destroyer and damage 1 escort carrier.
1947 – Pravda denounced the Marshall Plan.
1951 – The 1st Marine Division reached its objective — a line running northeast from the Hwachon Reservoir through the Punch Bowl, a gigantic volcanic crater.
1954 – China’s Chou Enlai, now negotiating for the Communists against the West, suggests that Vietminh troops withdraw from Laos and Cambodia. It is now clear that China and the Soviet Union, represented by Vyacheslav Molotov, are bringing pressure to bear on the Vietminh not to wreck the conference. Members of the Vietminh delegation will later complain that their revolution was halted on the verge of success, but without Chinese aid, they cannot be certain of expelling the French.
1955 – The U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend Selective Service until 1959.
1961 – Following a meeting between President John F. Kennedy and South Vietnam envoy Nguyen Dinh Thuan, an agreement is reached for direct training and combat supervision of Vietnamese troops by U.S. instructors. South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem had earlier asked Kennedy to send additional U.S. troops to train the South Vietnamese Army. U.S. advisers had been serving in Vietnam since 1955 as part of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group. There would be only 900 U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam at the end of 1961, but in accordance with President Kennedy’s pledge to provide American military assistance to South Vietnam, the number of U.S. personnel rose to 3,200 by the end of 1962. The number would climb until it reached 16,000 by the time of President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963.
1965 – Navy Department schedules reactivation of hospital ship Repose (AH-16), first hospital ship activated for Vietnam Conflict.
1965 – Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announces that 21,000 more U.S. troops are to be sent to Vietnam. He also claimed that it was now known that North Vietnamese regular troops had begun to infiltrate South Vietnam. The new U.S. troops were to join the U.S. Marines and paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade that had arrived earlier to secure U.S. airbases and facilities. These forces would soon transition from defensive missions to direct combat operations. As the war escalated, more and more U.S. combat troops were sent to South Vietnam. By 1969, there were over 540,000 American troops in Vietnam.
1967 – The Vietcong’s National Liberation Front Radio warns that captured Americans will be executed if ‘the US aggressors and their Saigon stooges’ execute ‘three Vietnamese patriots’ sentenced to death by a special military tribunal in Saigon.
1970 – Congress turns down end-the-war proposals as the Senate refuses twice to set a Vietnam troop withdrawal deadline and the House on 17 June also declines to set a pullout date.
1970 – North Vietnamese and Viet Cong attacks almost completely isolate Phnom Penh. The principal fighting raged in and around Kompong Thom, about 90 miles north of the capital. On June 17, Cambodia’s last working railway line, which ran to the border of Thailand, was severed when communist troops seized a freight train with 200 tons of rice and other food supplies at a station at Krang Lovea, about 40 miles northwest of Phnom Penh.
1978 – President Carter and Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos exchanged instruments of ratification for the Panama Canal treaties.
1992 – President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin capped the first day of their Washington summit by announcing their countries had agreed to slash their long-range nuclear arsenals by two-thirds.
1992 – Former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger was indicted on 5-count felony charges in connection with the Iran-Contra affair. He was later pardoned by Bush.
1993 – Six hours of fierce street battles are fought by UN troops backed by US helicopters, to capture Aidid’s headquarters. One American GI is slightly injured. 130 GIs of the 1/22 Infantry are rushed in to back the UN forces.
1994 – Former President Jimmy Carter, on a private visit to North Korea, reported the Communist nation’s leaders were eager to resume talks with the United States on resolving disputes about Pyongyang’s nuclear program and improving relations.
1998 – In Afghanistan the Taliban ordered the closing of over 100 private schools that had been educating girls. Schools would not be allowed to teach girls older than 8 and lessons were to be limited to the Koran.
1998 – North Korea admitted that it had sold missiles abroad and would continue to do so to generate needed income.
1998 – In Serbia Pres. Milosevic agreed to allow monitors into Kosovo and to begin talks with Kosovo Albanian leaders, but not to withdraw his military forces until “terrorist activities subside.”
1999 – Kathleen Ann Soliah, a fugitive member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, was captured in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she had made a new life under the name Sara Jane Olson.
1999 – The US decided to support a British and Dutch proposal to partially lift oil sanctions on Iraq in exchange for answers on weapons programs and a new group of UN arms inspectors. Iraq rejected the proposal.
1999 – US Marines in Kosovo disarmed 116 members of the KLA.
2001 – President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, face to face for the first time, pledged during a meeting in Slovenia to deepen their nations’ bonds and to explore the possibility of compromise on U.S. missile defense plans. Putin warned Bush against Nato expansion and “unilateral action” on missile defense, but they promoted their new friendship and planned economic cooperation.
2002 – The Bush administration revealed a secret plan to for the CIA to undermine and possibly kill Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein.
2002 – Philippine troops shot dead one Muslim rebel and wounded an unknown number in their first clash with the guerrillas since an American hostage was killed in a rescue operation more than a week ago.
2003 – Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, No. 4 on the wanted list, surrendered at a private home in Tikrit following informants’ tips. Nearby US soldiers found two boxes, each counting $4 million in bundled hundred-dollar bills, along with hundreds of pieces of jewelry, a sniper rifle and two pounds of plastic explosive.
2004 – Saboteurs blasted a southern pipeline for the 2nd time in as many days, shutting down Iraq’s oil exports. Gunmen killed a security chief for the state-run Northern Oil Co. Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his Shiite militias out of Najaf and Kufa.
2004 – A Jordanian military court convicted 15 men, only one of whom was in custody, for a terror conspiracy targeting U.S. and Israeli interests.
2007 – Operation Phantom Thunder began when Multi-National Force-Iraq launched major offensive operations against al-Qaeda and other extremist terrorists operating throughout Iraq. Operation Phantom Thunder was a corps level operation, including Operation Arrowhead Ripper in Diyala Province, Operation Marne Torch and Operation Commando Eagle in Babil Province, Operation Fardh al-Qanoon in Baghdad, Operation Alljah in Anbar Province, and continuing special forces actions against the Mahdi Army in southern Iraq and against Al-Qaeda leadership throughout the country. The operation was one of the biggest military operations in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003. On 14 August, it was announced that the operation ended. Coalition and Iraqi security forces pushed into areas previously not under their control, and they also ejected insurgent groups from their strongholds in Northern Babil, eastern Anbar and Diyala provinces and on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. During the operation, Iraqi and Coalition forces conducted intelligence raids against al Qaeda in Iraq and the Iranian-backed cells nationwide, with a heavy emphasis on cells in Baghdad, Diyala, and central and northern Iraq. Operation Arrowhead Ripper continued for another five days until 19 August with more intense street fighting in Baquba. The operations continued into operation Phantom Strike.
2007 – Operation Marne Torch began in the Arab Jabour and Salman Pak area, conducted by the new Multinational Division Central. Arab Jabour, being only 20 kilometers southeast from Baghdad, is a major transit point for insurgent forces in and out of Baghdad. By 14 August, 2,500 Coalition and Iraqi forces had detained more than five dozen suspected extremists, destroyed 51 boats, killed 88 terrorists and discovered and destroyed 51 weapons caches.
2007 – Operation Alljah was being conducted by Multi-National Forces West. In the western Al Anbar province operations attacked insurgent supply lines and weapons caches, targeting the regions of Fallujah, Karma and Thar Thar. Commanders of the operation expressed belief that Fallujah would be cleared by August and that the regions of Karma and Thar Thar would be cleared by July. On 17 June, a raid near Karma killed a known Libyan Al-Qaeda fighter and six of his aides and on 21 June six al-Qaeda members were killed and five were detained during early-morning raids also near Karma. Also on 23 June, a U.S. airstrike killed five suspects and destroyed their car bomb near Fallujah. Insurgents also struck back in Fallujah with two suicide bombings and an attack on an off-duty policeman that left four policemen dead on 22 June. On 29 June, U.S. forces killed a senior al-Qaeda leader east of Fallujah. Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Masri, an Egyptian, was a veteran of both battles of Fallujah. On 6 July a raid west of Fallujah resulted in the killing of an Al-Qaeda in Iraq battalion commander and two of his men and the captured of two more insurgents.

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