This Day in U.S. Military History…… June 19

19 June
1586 – English colonists sailed from Roanoke Island, N.C. after failing to establish England’s first permanent settlement in America.
1778 – General George Washington’s troops finally left Valley Forge after a winter of training. Washington left to intercept the British force on its way to New York City.
1786 – Gen. Nathanael Greene died of sunstroke at his Georgia plantation.
1794 – Richard Henry Lee (b1732) statesman, Declaration of Independence signer, died.
1811 – Samuel P. Chase (b.Apr 17, 1741), judge, jurist, Supreme Court Justice, revolutionary, attorney, Declaration of Independence signer; picture on a $10000 bill, died.
1845 – The Secretary of the Treasury had Lieutenants Thornton A. Jenkins and Richard Bache detailed from the Navy and sent abroad to procure information that might tend to the improvement of the lighthouse system of the United States. Subsequently, when the Secretary submitted the report of these two naval officers and asked that a board be appointed to consider thoroughly the matter of lighthouse improvements. No legislative action resulted.
1862 – Slavery was outlawed in U.S. territories. President Abraham Lincoln outlined his Emancipation Proclamation. News of the document reached the south and Texas through General Gordon Granger.
1863 – A naval battery mounted to fire across the river at Cerro Gordo, Tennessee, manned by crew from U.S.S. Robb, Acting Ensign Hanford, was hotly engaged by Confederate troops. Hanford reported: “They [the Confederates] charged four abreast (dismounted) and came to within 20 yards of the cannon’s mouth, while canister was being fired into them like rain.”
1864 – Skirmish at Pine Knob Georgia.
1864 – USS Kearsarge sinks CSS Alabama off the coast of Cherbourg, France. “The day being Sunday and the weather fine, a large concourse of people-many having come all the way from Paris collected on the heights above the town [Cherbourg], in the upper stories of such of the houses as commanded a view of the sea, and on the walls and fortifications of the harbor. Several French luggers employed as pilot-boats went out, and also an English steam-yacht, called the Deerhound. Everything being in readiness between nine and ten o’clock, we got underway, and proceeded to sea, through the western entrance of the harbor; the Couronne [French ironclad] following us. As we emerged from behind the mole, we discovered the Kearsarge at a distance of between six and seven miles from the land. She had been apprised or our intention of coming out that morning, and was awaiting us.” Thus Captain Raphael Semmes drew the scene as the historic Kearsarge-Alabama battle unfolded. Alabama mounted 8 guns to Kearsarge’s 7. Yet, Captain Winslow of Kearsarge enjoyed a superiority in eight of broadside including two heavy XI-inch Dahlgren guns while Semmes had but one heavy gun, an VIlI-inch. Perhaps his greatest advantage was superior ammuni-tion, since Alabama’s had deteriorated during her long cruise. Furthermore, Winslow had pro-tected the sides of his ship and the vulnerable machinery by hanging heavy chains over the sides from topside to below the waterline. Kearsarge’s complement numbered 163; Alabama’s, 149. The antagonists closed to about one and a half miles, when Semmes opened the action with a starboard broadside. Within minutes the firing became fierce from both ships as they fought starboard to starboard on a circular course. Lieutenant Sinclair, CSN, wrote: “Semmes would have chosen to bring about yard-arm quarters, fouling, and boarding, relying upon the superior physique of his crew to overbalance the superiority of numbers; but this was frustrated.” Shot and shell from the heavier guns of Kearsarge crashed into Alabama’s hull, while the Union sloop of war, her sides protected by the chain armor, suffered only minor damage. One shell from Alabama lodged in the Kearsarge’s sternpost but failed to explode. “If it had exploded,” wrote John M. McKenzie, who was only 16 years old at the time of the battle, “the Kearsarge would have gone to the bottom instead of the Alabama. But our ammunition was old and had lost its strength.” Southern casualties were heavy as both sides fought valiantly. “After the lapse of about one hour and ten minutes,” Semmes reported, “our ship was ascertained to be in a sinking condition, the enemy’s shells having exploded in our side, and between decks, opening large apertures through which the water rushed with great rapidity. For some few minutes I had hopes of being able to reach the French coast, for which purpose I gave the ship all steam, and set such of the fore and aft sails as were available. The ship filled so rapidly, however, that before we had made much progress, the fires were extinguished in the furnaces, and we were evi-dently on the point of sinking. I now hauled down my colors to prevent the further destruction of life, and dispatched a boat to inform the enemy of our condition.” Alabama settled stern first and her bow raised high in the air as the waters of the English Channel closed over her. Boats from Kearsarge and French boats rescued the survivors. The English yacht Deerhound, owned by Mr. John Lancaster, picked up Captain Semmes with 13 of his officers and 27 crew members and carried them to Southampton. The spectacular career of the Confederacy’s most famous raider was closed. Before her last battle Semmes reminded his men: “You have destroyed, and driven for protection under neutral flags, one-half of the enemy’s commerce, which, at the beginning of the war, covered every sea. Alabama had captured and burned at sea 55 Union merchantmen valued at over four and one-half million dollars, and had bonded 10 others to the value of 562 thousand dollars. Another prize, Conrad, was commissioned C.S.S. Tuscaloosa, and herself struck at Northern shipping. Flag Officer Barron lamented: “It is true that we have lost our ship; the ubiquitous gallant Alabama is no more, but we have lost no honor.” For Winslow and Kearsarge the victory was well deserved and rewarding. Throughout the North news of Alabama’s end was greeted with jubilation and relief. Secretary Welles wrote the Captain: “I congratulate you for your good fortune in meeting the Alabama, which had so long avoided the fastest ships of the service . . . for the ability displayed in the contest you have the thanks of the Department. . . . The battle was so brief, the victory so decisive, and the comparative results so striking that the country will be reminded of the brilliant actions of our infant Navy, which have been repeated and illustrated in this engagement . . . Our countrymen have reason to be satisfied that in this, as in every naval action of this unhappy war, neither the ships, the guns, nor the crews have deteriorated, but that they maintain the ability and continue the renown which have ever adorned our naval annals.” Winslow received a vote of thanks from Congress, and was promoted to Commodore with his commission dated 19 June 1864, his victory day.
1865 – Emancipation Day, also known as Juneteenth, was the day that Union General Granger informed Texas slaves that they were free. Blacks came to celebrate the day as Juneteenth Freedom Day.
1885 – The Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, arrives in New York City’s harbor. Originally known as “Liberty Enlightening the World,” the statue was proposed by French historian Edouard Laboulaye to commemorate the Franco-American alliance during the American Revolution. Designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the 151-foot statue was the form of a woman with an uplifted arm holding a torch. In February 1877, Congress approved the use of a site on New York Bedloe’s Island, which was suggested by Bartholdi. In May 1884, the statue was completed in France, and three months later the Americans laid the cornerstone for its pedestal in New York. On June 19, 1885, the dismantled Statue of Liberty arrived in the New World, enclosed in more than 200 packing cases. Its copper sheets were reassembled, and the last rivet of the monument was fitted on October 28, 1886, during a dedication presided over by U.S. President Grover Cleveland. On the pedestal was inscribed “The New Colossus,” a famous sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus that welcomed immigrants to the United States with the declaration, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. / I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Six years later, Ellis Island, adjacent to Bedloe’s Island, opened as the chief entry station for immigrants to the United States, and for the next 32 years more than 12 million immigrants were welcomed into New York harbor by the sight of “Lady Liberty.” In 1924, the Statue of Liberty was made a national monument.
1868 – Attempting to convince hostile Indians to make peace with the United States, the Jesuit missionary Pierre-Jean De Smet meets with the great Sioux Chief Sitting Bull in present-day Montana. A native of Belgium, De Smet came to the United States in 1821 at the age of 20. He became a novitiate of the Jesuit order in Maryland and was subsequently ordained in St. Louis. As a priest, De Smet’s ambition was to be a missionary to the Native Americans of the Far West. In 1838, he was sent to proselytize among the Potawatomi villages near today’s Council Bluffs, Iowa. There, he met a delegation of Flathead Indians who had come east seeking a “black robe” whom they hoped might be able to bring the power of the Christian god to aid their tribe. During the 1840s, De Smet made several trips to work with the Flathead in present-day western Montana. He established a thriving mission and eventually secured a peace treaty with the Flathead’s previously irreconcilable enemy, the Blackfeet. A genuine friend to the Native Americans, De Smet earned a reputation as a white man who could be trusted to fairly negotiate disputes between Indians and the American government. During the 1860s, such disputes became increasingly common in the West, where Plains Indians like the Sioux and Cheyenne resisted the growing flood of white settlers invading their territories. The U.S. government began to demand that all the Plains Indians relocate to reservations. Leaders in the American government and military hoped the relocation could be achieved through negotiations, but they were also perfectly willing to use violence to force the Indians to comply. One of the principal leaders of the so-called “hostile” Indians that resisted relocation was the great Chief of the Teton Sioux, Sitting Bull. In May 1868, the federal government asked De Smet to meet with Sitting Bull to negotiate a peace treaty. The 67-year-old De Smet agreed to try, and on this day in 1868, he met with Sitting Bull at his camp along the Powder River in present-day Montana. Although tensions were high, Sitting Bull had promised to meet De Smet with “arms stretched out, ready to embrace him.” Lest any hotheaded young brave do something foolish, Sitting Bull first talked with De Smet in his own lodge in order to ensure the priest’s safety. The next day, De Smet met with a council that included other chiefs. De Smet was not able to convince Sitting Bull personally to sign a peace treaty. However, the chief did agree to send one of his lesser chiefs to Fort Laramie, Wyoming, to sign a treaty in which the Sioux agreed to allow white travel and settlement in specified areas. Although Sitting Bull himself had not agreed to the treaty, the negotiations were a triumph for De Smet. As one historian later noted, “No White Man has ever come close to equaling his universal appeal to the Indian.” De Smet spent the remaining five years of his life continuing to work for peace with the Plains Indians. Through his books and speaking tours, he also attempted to bring a sympathetic portrait of the Indians to an American public that tended to think of Indians as bloodthirsty savages. Ultimately, however, De Smet was unable to stop the tragic Plains Indian War that eventually forced Sitting Bull and other Indians to leave their homes and move to government-controlled reservations. De Smet died in St. Louis in 1873, three years before Sitting Bull won his greatest victory in his war with the United States at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
1888 – Marines landed in Korea and marched 25 miles to protect the Seoul Legation.
1902 – The US Senate voted in favor of Panama as the canal site. US support for a $40 million purchase was based on Congressional acceptance for a canal in Panama rather than Nicaragua, and the acquisition of land to serve as a canal zone.
1941 – In retaliation for the closing of all Italian and German consulates in the United States, similar action is taken by Italy and Germany with respect to American consulates.
1942 – Churchill and Roosevelt confer. One of topics discussed are the plans for a Second Front. It has become clear that Operation Sledgehammer, the planned invasion of France will not be possible in 1942. Churchill proposes an attack on French North Africa instead. Also under discussion is the Atomic research program. It is agree that the Americans and British will share their information, but that the research should be concentrated in the United States rather than wartime Britain.
1944 – In the early morning hours Japanese reconnaissance finds US Task Force 58 while remaining undetected. The Japanese immediately launch 372 aircraft, in four waves, to strike the American fleet. Overall, the Japanese have about 550 planes (including those on Guam) while the Americans have roughly 950. Furthermore, US radar provides significant advance warning of the attack. There is enough time to launch an air raid on Guam before the Japanese can arrive over their target. American fighters begin intercepting the incoming Japanese planes while 50 miles away. Many of the attackers are shot down before reaching the American fleet; US anti-aircraft defenses accounts for many more. The only hit achieved by the Japanese is on the USS South Dakota which is damaged by one bomb. The Japanese lose 240 aircraft and the Americans lose 29. The attackers fly on to Guam where American aircraft strike and destroy another 50 Japanese planes. Meanwhile, the Japanese aircraft carriers Taiho and Shokaku are sunk by the US submarines Cavalla and Albacore. American participants refer to the day as “The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot” because of the ease with which the Japanese forces have been suppressed.
1944 – “Ace of Aces” David McCampbell (1910-1996) and the Fabled 15 challenged 80 Japanese carrier based aircraft bearing down on an American fleet. He shot down 7 Zeroes and the group routed the enemy fliers at the Battle of the Marianas.
1944 – On Biak, the reinforced US 41st Division launches attacks against Japanese strongpoints in the west of the island.
1944 – Elements of the US 1st Army clear Montebourg and Valognes.
1945 – Millions of New Yorkers turned out to cheer Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was honored with a parade.
1945 – Spain is barred from membership in the United Nations organization as long as the Franco regime continue to hold power.
1945 – On Luzon, in the Cagayan Valley, Ilagan is captured by advancing troops of the US 1st Corps.
1945 – On Okinawa, the insistent use of propaganda by means of leaflets and loudspeakers, by the American forces, induces some 343 Japanese troops to surrender. Japanese forces fall back in some disorder along the frontage of the US 3rd Amphibious Corps but continue to resist along the line held by the US 24th Corps.
1947 – The first plane (F-80) to exceed 600 mph (1004 kph) was flown by Albert Boyd in Muroc, California.
1948 – USSR blocked access road to West Berlin.
1948 – Chief of Naval Operations assigns 3 destroyers to U.N. mediator for the Palestine truce.
1951 – President Harry S. Truman signed the Universal Military Training and Service Act, which extended Selective Service until July 1, 1955 and lowered the draft age to 18.
1953 – Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a married couple convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in 1951, are put to death in the electric chair. The execution marked the dramatic finale of the most controversial espionage case of the Cold War. Julius was arrested in July 1950, and Ethel in August of that same year, on the charge of conspiracy to commit espionage. Specifically, they were accused of heading a spy ring that passed top-secret information concerning the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. The Rosenbergs vigorously protested their innocence, but after a brief trial in March 1951 they were convicted. On April 5, 1951, a judge sentenced them to death. The pair was taken to Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York, to await execution. During the next two years, the couple became the subject of both national and international debate. Many people believed that the Rosenbergs were the victims of a surge of hysterical anticommunist feeling in the United States, and protested that the death sentence handed down was cruel and unusual punishment. Most Americans, however, believed that the Rosenbergs had been dealt with justly. President Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke for many Americans when he issued a statement declining to invoke executive clemency for the pair. He stated, “I can only say that, by immeasurably increasing the chances of atomic war, the Rosenbergs may have condemned to death tens of millions of innocent people all over the world. The execution of two human beings is a grave matter. But even graver is the thought of the millions of dead whose deaths may be directly attributable to what these spies have done.” Julius Rosenberg was the first to be executed, at about 8 p.m. on June 19, 1953. Just a few minutes after his body was removed from the chamber containing the electric chair, Ethel Rosenberg was led in and strapped to the chair. She was pronounced dead at 8:16 p.m. Both refused to admit any wrongdoing and proclaimed their innocence right up to the time of their deaths. Two sons, Michael and Robert, survived them.
1965 – Air Vice-Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky assumes the premiership of the ninth government to be installed within the last 20 months in the country. The Armed Forces Council had chosen Ky as premier on June 11, and Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu was chosen for the relatively powerless position of chief of state. Having risen to the rank of lieutenant general in the fledgling South Vietnamese Air Force, Ky was one of a group of officers who had seized power earlier in 1965 to end the anarchy that had followed in the wake of the assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem in November 1963. The new premier immediately took steps to strengthen the armed forces. He also instituted needed land reforms, programs for the construction of schools and hospitals, and price controls. Additionally, his government began a much-touted campaign to remove corrupt officials. At the same time, however, Ky instituted a number of unpopular repressive actions, including a ban on newspapers. In 1966, Buddhists, among other political factions, demanded Ky’s ouster, and protests took place in various cities. The disturbances ended partly as a result of a government crackdown and partly because of a loss of support for the Buddhists among dissident elements of the military. Ky continued in his post until the elections of 1967, when be became Vice President of South Vietnam and Thieu became president. Ky served in that position until 1971, when he chose not to run as an opposition candidate against President Nguyen Van Thieu. He reverted to the rank of Air Marshal in the air force.
1968 – In a public ceremony at Hue, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu signs a general mobilization bill. Under the new measure, men between the ages of 18 and 43 were subject to induction into the regular armed forces. Men between the ages of 44 and 50 and youths between 16 and 17 years old were eligible to serve in the part-time civilian People’s Self Defense Organization. An estimated 90,000 17-year-olds in the People’s Self Defense Organization would be transferred to the regular army. It was believed that, by the end of 1968, the law would provide for the induction of an additional 200,000 men. This would begin a steady growth in the size of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces that would accelerate under President Richard Nixon’s Vietnamization program. There would be 1.1 million men and women in the South Vietnamese forces by the end of 1972.
1969 – Former Secretary of Defense Clifford Clark, writing in Foreign Affairs, proposes a timetable for withdrawal from Vietnam which calls for the removal of 100,000 combat troops in 1969 and an additional 100-150,000 troops by the end of 1970. President Nixon, speaking at a news conference expresses the ‘hope that we could beat Mr. Clifford’s timetable.’
1973 – The Case-Church Amendment prevented further U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia.
1976 – U.S. Viking 1 went into Martian orbit after a 10-month flight from earth.
1981 – Boeing commercial Chinook 2-rotor helicopter was certified.
1983 – The crew of the space shuttle Challenger, including America’s first woman in space, Sally K. Ride, launched the Indonesian-owned Palapa B communications satellite into orbit.
1985 – On day six of the hijacking of TWA 847, an ABC News reporter was able to briefly interview the plane’s pilot, John L. Testrake, who said from his cockpit window, “We’re OK.” ABC later denied reports that they had paid the terrorists for the interview.
1985 – In El Salvador four off-duty US Marines and 9 others were killed at sidewalk restaurants in the Zona Rosa section of San Salvador. Pedro Antonio Andrade Martinez (aka Mario Gonzalez), a Marxist guerrilla, was one of the reputed masterminds of the attack.
1992 – In a joint operation with INS, the Coast Guard assisted in the seizure of the 167-foot Belize-registered freighter Lucky No. 1, her 15-man crew, and 117 Chinese migrants that were aboard. The seizure took place off Oahu.
1994 – Former President Jimmy Carter, just returned from North Korea, said he believed the crisis with Pyongyang was over following talks with North Korean President Kim Il Sung on how to resolve the nuclear issue.
1995 – US Air Force Captain Jim Wang, a radar officer, was cleared of wrongdoing in a friendly fire attack on 2 US helicopters over northern Iraq in 1994 that resulted in 26 deaths.
1998 – The U.N. Security Council unanimously approves Resolution 1175 allowing Iraq to spend $300 million on spare parts for its oil industry. The spare parts are expected to expand Iraq’s oil export capacity from 1.6 million barrels per day to 1.8-1.9 million barrels per day.
1999 – NATO reached a tentative agreement with leaders of the KLA for the rebel force to gradually disarm, disband and cease military activities in 30 days.
2002 – The space shuttle Endeavour returned to Earth with one Russian and two American crewmen who’d spent six and a-half months aboard the international space station.
2002 – In Afghanistan the 9-day grand council ended with the inauguration of Hamid Karzai as president and the approval of his new Cabinet.
2003 – In Iraq The special “Task Force 20″ commando team was joined in the convoy operation by an AC-130 gunship and other air support, attacking by ground and air along a known escape and smuggling route near the western city of Qaim.
2003 – Arrest and guilty plea unsealed of Iyman Faris, an Ohio truck driver who plotted with Osama Bin Laden to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge.
2003 – The U.S. Air Force dropped manslaughter and aggravated assault charges against two fighter pilots who’d mistakenly bombed Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan in 2002. One pilot was waiting trial on a charge of dereliction of duty.
2004 – A US military plane fired missiles into Fallujah, killing 26. The target was a hideout of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s terror network. 23 of the 26 killed were foreign terrorists. 3 Iraqis were among the dead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *