This Day in U.S. Military History…… June 23

23 June
1683 – William Penn signed a friendship treaty with Lenni Lenape Indians in Pennsylvania. It became the only treaty “not sworn to, nor broken.”
1776 – The final draft of Declaration of Independence was submitted to US Congress.
1784 – The 1st US balloon flight was made by Edward Warren (13).
1812 – Marine Lt. John Heath became the first casualty of the War of 1812.
1817 – The RC Active forced a South American privateer posing as an armed merchantman to leave the Chesapeake Bay and American waters.
1845 – The congress of the Republic of Texas voted to accept annexation by the US after 10 years as an independent republic.
1861 – Confederate Navy- began reconstruction of ex- U.S.S. Merrimack as ironclad C.S.S. Virginia at Norfolk.
1862 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee meets with his corps commanders to plot an attack on General George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac. Launched on June 26, the attack would break the stalemate of the Peninsular campaign and trigger the Seven Days’ Battles. McClellan had spent two months shipping his army down the Chesapeake to the James Peninsula for a run at the Confederate capital. Despite having a larger number of troops, McClellan moved slowly and timidly, and his advance stalled on June 1, less than 10 miles from Richmond. For the next three weeks, McClellan’s and Lee’s armies faced off, but little fighting occurred. Now Lee sought to seize the initiative. He summoned his generals for a council on June 23. Included in the meeting was General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, fresh off his highly successful Shenandoah Valley campaign. Jackson was traveling ahead of his army, which was still marching back from western Virginia. Lee announced to his commanders that the time had come to attack the Yankee invaders. Lee planned an assault on the Union right flank, which was separated from the rest of the Yankee army by the Chickahominy River. Plans were made for the Battle of Mechanicsville on June 26, and Jackson rode back to his troops. The stage was set for the Seven Days’ Battles.
1863 – Confederate forces overwhelmed a Union garrison at the Battle of Brasher City in Louisiana.
1865 – Confederate General Stand Watie, who was also a Cherokee chief, surrendered the last sizable Confederate army at Fort Towson, in the Oklahoma Territory.
1868 – Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for an invention he called a “Type-Writer.”
1918 – A joint Anglo-French force occupies the north Russian port of Murmansk to aid those forces, “White Russians”, opposed to the Bolshevik government. Similar operations follow at Archangel and Vladivostok are both occupied, Vladivostok by US troops, in August. The two US regiments committed at Vladivostok are commanded by General William Graves. Unlike his allies in the north he is under strict orders not to interfere in internal Russian affairs. his roles are to prevent the Japanese, who have a garrison there, from taking over the port permanently and to aid in the repatriation of a 100,000 strong group of Austro-Hungarian prisoners, later known as the Czech Legion. US troops also guard part of the Trans-Siberian Railroad to facilitate the possible evacuation of the Czech legion, but they become involved in clashes with both Bolshevik and anti-Bolshevik forces. American forces will remain in the region until April 1920.
1933 – Commissioning of USS Macon, Navy’s last dirigible.
1939 – Congress created the Coast Guard Reserve which later became what is today the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
1943 – American landings on Woodlark Island begin.
1944 – The Soviet attack begins. There are four front-level commands engaged in the operation, under the STAVKA direction of Marshal Zhukov (the southern wing) and Marshal Vasilevsky (the northern wing). From left to right: 1st Belorussian Front (Rokossovsky); 2nd Belorussian Front (Zakharov); 3rd Belorussian Front (Cherniakhovsky); and, 1st Baltic Front (Bagramian). The Soviet combat forces directly engaged in the offensive amount to over 1,250,000 men (in 124 divisions), over 4000 tanks and self-propelled guns, over 24,000 artillery pieces and over 6300 aircraft. Soviet objectives include tactical encirclements at Vitebsk and Bobruisk while a deep encirclement would aim for Minsk. Soviet forces are then to drive west toward the Vistula River. The target of Operation Bagration is German Army Group Center (Busch) holding a salient centered on Minsk, and including most of Belorussia. Its forces, from right to left, include: 9th Army (Jordan), 4th Army (Tippelskirch); and, 3rd Panzer Army (Reinhardt). On the right flank of the army group is the German 2nd Army (Weiss) which is not targeted by the Soviet offensive. The German defenders amount to 800,000 men in 63 divisions with about 900 tanks and assault guns, 10,000 artillery pieces and 1300 planes. Advances of up 11 miles are recorded by Red Army troops of 2nd, 3rd Belorussian and 1st Baltic Fronts. The 1st Belorussian Front does not join in the assault during the day. Meanwhile in the far north, forces of the Soviet 7th Separate Army cross the Svir River.
1944 – American forces of the US 7th Corps (part of 1st Army) penetrate the outer defenses of Cherbourg. Elements of British 2nd Army also make gains. The British 5th Division captures St. Honorina, northwest of Caen.
1944 – In one of the largest air strikes of the war, the U.S. Fifteenth Air Force sent 761 bombers against the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania.
1944 – On Saipan, US 5th Amphibious Corps remains engaged in fighting. The 2nd Marine Division contineus to battle for Mount Tapotchau.
1945 – On Okinawa, the systematic mopping up of the island begins. General Stilwell takes command of the US 10th Army in place of General Geiger. Lt Gen Ushijima, Japanese commander, committed suicide.
1945 – American paratroopers land near Aparri on the north coast of Luzon, at the mouth of the Cagayan River, without incident. They link up with a large force of Filipino guerrillas. The combined force advances southward to make contact with the US 37th Division.
1945 – The rival parties claiming the right to rule Poland reach an agreement on power sharing. American and British objections to the Lublin Committee Poles, supported by the Soviet Union, are met with the inclusion of three of the Poles from the London based government in exile. Among the three is Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, the former premier, who is to be the deputy premier. In addition, two non-Communist Poles from within Poland are included in the new provisional government. The Communists and their opponents are therefore to share power more equitably than originally thought possible.
1945 – The representatives of the Big Four powers (China, UK, USA and USSR) agree to admit Poland to the United Nations.
1951 – Soviet U.N. delegate Jacob Malik proposed cease-fire discussions in the Korean War.
1951 – U.S. Air Force Captain and former fighter pilot Richard Heyman, 8th Bomber Squadron, was officially credited with the only B-26 Invader light bomber aerial victory of the war when he shot down a communist PO-2.
1952 – More than 200 aircraft attacked four power complexes located along the Yalu River in the largest joint air operation since World War II. The combined Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps force flew over 1,200 sorties during the two-day operation.
1959 – After only nine years in prison, Klaus Fuchs, the German-born Los Alamos scientist whose espionage helped the USSR build their first atomic and hydrogen bombs, is released from a British prison. Fuchs immediately left Britain for communist East Germany, where he resumed his scientific career. As a student in prewar Germany, Fuchs joined the German Communist Party in 1930 but in 1934 was forced to flee after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler came to power. Settling in Britain, he became a brilliant young scientist and was recruited by the British military after the outbreak of World War II. Despite his communist past, he was granted security clearance. In 1943, Fuchs was sent with other British scientists to the United States to join the top secret U.S. atomic program. Eventually stationed at atomic development headquarters in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Fuchs became an important figure in the program. Unbeknownst to anyone at Los Alamos, he made contact with a Soviet spy soon after his arrival and offered precise information about the program, including a blueprint of the “Fat Man” atomic bomb later dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, and everything that the Los Alamos scientists knew about the hypothesized hydrogen bomb. After the war, Fuchs returned to England, where he continued his atomic work and Soviet espionage until December 21, 1949, when a British intelligence officer informed the physicist that he was suspected of having given classified nuclear weapons information to the USSR. The discovery of Fuch’s espionage came four months after the Soviet Union successfully detonated its first atomic bomb. Fuchs pleaded guilty and on March 1, 1950, after a two-hour trial, was convicted. By British law he could be sentenced to only 14 years in prison because the USSR was not an official British enemy at the time of his arrest. After nine years, he was released from prison for good behavior and immediately left Britain for communist East Germany. He died in 1988. The revelation of Fuchs’ espionage was a major factor leading to President Harry Truman’s approval of massive funding for the development of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon theorized to be hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. The first U.S. hydrogen bomb was successfully detonated in 1952. Three years later, the Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb on the same principle of radiation implosion.
1964 – At a news conference, President Lyndon B. Johnson announces that Henry Cabot Lodge has resigned as ambassador to South Vietnam and that Gen. Maxwell Taylor will be his replacement. It was reliably reported that virtually every top official in the administration volunteered to serve as ambassador. Johnson made a point of insisting that this change would in no way affect the U.S. commitment to South Vietnam. It was also announced that General Westmoreland was to become the “executive agent” to supervise the civilian advisory and assistance programs in three provinces around Saigon, the first stage of a plan to coordinate the entire U.S. military and civilian program in South Vietnam under the military command. Lodge had left his ambassadorial post to pursue the Republican presidential nomination. Ultimately, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona secured the nomination and was defeated by Johnson in the general election. Lodge returned to Saigon in 1965 for another two-year stint as ambassador.
1967 – President Johnson and Soviet Premier Alekesi Kosygin meet in Glassboro, New Jersey for a three day meeting on world issues.
1969 – Ben Het, a U.S. Special Forces camp located 288 miles northeast of Saigon and six miles from the junction of the Cambodian, Laotian and South Vietnamese borders, is besieged and cut off by 2,000 North Vietnamese troops using artillery and mortars. The base was defended by 250 U.S. soldiers and 750 South Vietnamese Montagnard tribesmen. The siege lasted until July 2 when the defenders were reinforced by an allied relief column.
1972 – US helicopters are required to fly almost all the dangerous missions around Anloc because South Vietnamese crews have panicked under fire. Several US helicopters and their crews have been lost in the last two weeks of heavy fighting causing bitterness among US airmen.
1972 – President Nixon and White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman discussed a plan to use the CIA to obstruct the FBI’s Watergate investigation. Revelation of the tape recording of this conversation sparked Nixon’s resignation in 1974. In the “smoking gun” tape Pres. Nixon told his chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, to tell top CIA officials that “the president believes this (in reference to Watergate) is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again.” Nixon counseled Haldeman on how to use deception to thwart an FBI investigation on how Watergate was financed.
1987 – The Iran-Contra hearings resumed with testimony from former CIA employee Glenn A. Robinette, who said he’d installed a $14,000 security system at the home of Lt. Col. Oliver North, then helped make it appear that North had paid for the work.
1991 – Iraq violates cease-fire agreements and U.N. Security Council Resolution 687. For the first time, Iraqi troops fire shots to prevent UNSCOM/IAEA inspectors from intercepting Iraqi vehicles carrying nuclear-related equipment. Equipment is later found and destroyed under cease-fire rules.
1998 – Iraq admits to experimenting with deadly VX chemical agent, but says it was unable to turn it into a weapon.
1998 – President Clinton said the reported discovery of traces of deadly nerve gas on an Iraqi missile warhead gave the United States new ammunition to maintain tough U.N. sanctions against the Baghdad government.
1999 – In Kosovo US Marines at a checkpoint in Zegra killed one Serb and wounded 2 others after being fired upon.
2000 – Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, during a visit to South Korea, said American troops would remain in the country indefinitely to maintain strategic stability in the Pacific area.
2003 – The US-led civil administrators announced the creation of a new Iraqi army.
2004 – In Iraq Polish forces purchased 17 rockets for a Soviet-era launcher and two mortar rounds containing the nerve agent cyclosarin for an undisclosed sum.

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