1604 – French explorer Samuel de Champlain, Pierre Dugua and 77 others landed on the island of St. Croix and made friends with the native Passamaquoddy Indians. It later became part of Maine on the US-Canadian border.
1742 – Arthur Middleton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born.
1804 – The Lewis and Clark Expedition reached the mouth of the Kansas River after completing a westward trek of nearly 400 river miles.
1819 – Abner Doubleday (d.1893), Civil War General, was born. He was incorrectly credited with inventing American baseball.
1862 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia strikes Union General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, beginning the Seven Days’ Battles. Although the Confederates sustained heavy losses and did not succeed in decisively defeating the Yankees, the battle had unnerved McClellan. During the next week, Lee drove him from the outskirts of Richmond back to his base on the James River. This was Lee’s first battle as commander of the army. On June 1, 1862, he had replaced Joseph Johnston, who was severely wounded at the Battle of Fair Oaks. McClellan’s offensive had stalled just five miles from Richmond, and his army remained there until late June. During that time, General J.E.B. Stuart and his Rebel cavalry made a spectacular ride around McClellan’s force, bringing back information that indicated that McClellan’s right flank was “in the air,” or unprotected by natural barriers. Lee informed his commanders on June 23 of his intention to attack the flank, occupied by Fitz John Porter’s V corps, which was separated from the rest of the Union army by the Chickahominy River. This was a bold move—because it meant leaving a skeleton force to face the rest of McClellan’s army south of the Chickahominy—and an early indication of Lee’s audacious style. But the attack did not go as planned. McClellan, alerted to the vulnerability of his flanks by Stuart’s ride two weeks prior, had shored up his left, and moved Porter’s men to high ground with a deep creek in front of them. Lee’s plan had called for several smaller forces to overwhelm Porter’s men, but it required precise timing. When the assault came, the coordination did not materialize. A major problem, among others, was General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s corps, which was slow to move into place. Jackson was just back from his brilliant campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, but he showed none of his previous vigor and speed at Mechanicsville. Lee planned to bring about 55,000 troops against Porter, but the mistakes made by Jackson and others meant there were only about 11,000. Lee lost 1,475 men; Union losses were only 361. But Lee had stunned McClellan, who then began to fall back away from Richmond. Lee continued to hammer on McClellan for the next week, and the Yankees retreated to the James River. McClellan did not threaten Richmond again, and he eventually sailed his army back to Washington.
1863 – Jubal Early and his Confederate forces moved into Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
1863 – Rear Admiral Andrew Hull Foote died in New York City of the wound received while brilliantly leading the naval forces on the Western rivers. The next day the Navy Department announced: ‘A gallant and distinguished naval officer is lost to the country. The hero of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, the daring and inimitable spirit that created and led to successive victories the Mississippi Flotilla, the heroic Christian sailor, who in the China Seas and on the coast of Africa, as well as the great interior rivers of our country, sustained with unfaltering fidelity and devotion the honor of our flag and the causes of the Union-Rear-Admiral Andrew Hull Foote-is no more. . . . Appreciating his virtues and his services, a grateful country had rendered him while living its willing honors, and will mourn his death.”
1876 – Following Lieutenant Colonel George Custer’s death the previous day in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Major Marcus Reno takes command of the surviving soldiers of the 7th Cavalry. A West Point graduate who fought for the North during the Civil War, Marcus Reno was an experienced soldier and officer. Yet, despite having been sent west in 1868 as a major in Custer’s 7th Cavalry, Reno had never actually fought any Indians prior to the Battle of the Little Big Horn. On June 25, 1876, Custer’s scouts reported they had located a gigantic village of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians encamped nearby along the banks of the Little Big Horn River in southern Montana. Believing that his scouts must have grossly overestimated the size of the village, Custer immediately prepared to attack. He divided the 600 soldiers of the 7th Cavalry into four battalions, placing Reno in command of one of them. Custer and Reno led their two battalions down a small creek (later called Reno Creek) toward the Little Big Horn River. A third battalion commanded by Captain Frederick Benteen scouted the hills to the west, while the fourth stayed in the rear to protect the army’s horses. About three or four miles from the Little Big Horn, Custer and Reno spotted a group of about 50 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. Fearing that the village ahead was already fleeing, Custer ordered Reno and his battalion to give pursuit, promising “the whole outfit” would soon support him. Reno and his men quickly rode down the valley and crossed the Little Big Horn. As they charged toward the Indian village, they began to encounter growing numbers of warriors mounting a strong defense. Uncertain of what lay ahead, Reno called a halt and ordered his men to dismount and fight on foot. Within minutes, he was under attack by a massive force of Sioux and Cheyenne braves. With no sign of the support Custer had promised, Reno decided he had no choice but to retreat and try to regain a defensible position on the high bluffs across the river. Some witnesses later said Reno panicked at this point and at least temporarily gave conflicting and confused orders. In any event, the retreat quickly became chaotic, allowing the Indians to easily pick off about one third of Reno’s troops before they reached the bluffs. There, Benteen and his battalion soon joined them. Benteen had received a dispatch from Custer downstream ordering the troops to hasten forward, but there was considerable disagreement among the officers about what to do. Their battalions had been badly hurt, and they needed time to regroup. Finally, the officers led the troops downstream toward the sound of heavy gunfire, but the presence of many wounded slowed their advance. Unbeknownst to Reno and Benteen, by this point the Indians had already wiped out Custer’s battalion. The braves now rushed upstream to attack the advancing soldiers, forcing them to retreat to their entrenched positions on the bluffs. The soldiers held off the Indians for another three hours of heavy fighting. When darkness fell, the Indians withdrew. The following day, June 26, Reno took formal command of the remnants of the 7th Cavalry, and he succeeded in fighting a holding action until the Indians decided to withdraw around noon. On June 27, fresh troops under General Terry arrived, and the soldiers began the grisly task of identifying and burying the dead. In the postmortem of the disastrous battle, some refused to believe that the magnificent Custer could have been responsible and they blamed Reno. At Reno’s request, in early 1879 the army staged a formal inquiry into the battle. After more than 26 days of testimony, a panel of three officers exonerated Reno. They ruled that he had fought desperately and bravely to keep his own battalion from being wiped out during the battle, and he could not be blamed for failing to go to Custer’s aid. Some civilian critics labeled the ruling a whitewash, and Reno never managed fully to redeem himself in their eyes.
1884 – Congress authorizes commissioning of Naval Academy graduates as ensigns.
1891 – The Corps established its first post at Port Royal, South Carolina, later known as Parris Island.
1900 – The United States announced it would send troops to fight against the Boxer rebellion in China.
1900 – A commission that included Dr. Walter Reed began the fight against the deadly disease yellow fever.
1917 – During World War I, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops land in France at the port of Saint Nazaire. The landing site had been kept secret because of the menace of German submarines, but by the time the Americans had lined up to take their first salute on French soil, an enthusiastic crowd had gathered to welcome them. However, the “Doughboys,” as the British referred to the green American troops, were untrained, ill-equipped, and far from ready for the difficulties of fighting along the Western Front. One of U.S. General John J. Pershing’s first duties as commander of the American Expeditionary Force was to set up training camps in France and establish communication and supply networks. Four months later, on October 21, the first Americans entered combat when units from the U.S. Army’s First Division were assigned to Allied trenches in the Luneville sector near Nancy, France. Each American unit was attached to a corresponding French unit. Two days later, Corporal Robert Bralet of the Sixth Artillery became the first U.S. soldier to fire a shot in the war when he discharged a French 75mm gun into a German trench a half mile away. On November 2, Corporal James Gresham and privates Thomas Enright and Merle Hay of the 16th Infantry became the first American soldiers to die when Germans raided their trenches near Bathelemont, France. After four years of bloody stalemate along the Western Front, the entrance of America’s well-supplied forces into the conflict was a major turning point in the war. When the war finally ended on November 11, 1918, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and more than 50,000 of these men had lost their lives.
1918 – At Belleau Woods, France after beating off some early morning counterattacks, Major Maurice Shearer sends signal, “Woods now entirely -US Marine Corps.”
1924 – After eight years of occupation, American troops left the Dominican Republic.
1926 – A memorial to the first U.S. troops in France was unveiled at St. Nazaire.
1927 – Direct commercial radio service between the Philippines and the US was inaugurated with a message from Manila to SF.
1936 – The 1st flight of Fw61 helicopter.
1942 – The Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter flew for the first time.
1944 – Coast Guard LCDR Quentin R. Walsh and his small commando/reconnaissance unit forced the surrender of Fort du Homet, a Nazi stronghold at Cherbourg, France, and captured 300 German soldiers and liberated 50 U.S. paratroopers who had been captured on D-Day. For his heroic actions Walsh was awarded the Navy Cross.
1944 – Most of Cherbourg, except the port, is now occupied by US 7th Corps (part of US 1st Army). The German garrison commander, General Schlieben and the naval commander, Admiral Hennecke, are taken prisoner. Meanwhile, British 2nd Army forces attacking toward Caen recieve naval support from HMS Rodney, the monitor Roberts and 3 cruisers.
1944 – The French Expeditionary Corps (part of the US 5th Army) advances north of Radicofani while South African elements of the British 8th Army, to the right, capture Chiusi.
1944 – The American 5th Amphibious Corps continues attacking on Saipan. A small Japanese reinforcement convoy heading for the island is met and forced away by US forces.
1944 – Admiral Small leads a cruiser and destroyer group to bombard Japanese positions on Matsuwa.
1945 – In the Herbst Theater auditorium in San Francisco, delegates from 50 nations sign the United Nations Charter, establishing the world body as a means of saving “succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” The Charter was ratified on October 24, and the first U.N. General Assembly met in London on January 10, 1946. Despite the failure of the League of Nations in arbitrating the conflicts that led up to World War II, the Allies as early as 1941 proposed establishing a new international body to maintain peace in the postwar world. The idea of the United Nations began to be articulated in August 1941, when U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter, which proposed a set of principles for international collaboration in maintaining peace and security. Later that year, Roosevelt coined “United Nations” to describe the nations allied against the Axis powers–Germany, Italy, and Japan. The term was first officially used on January 1, 1942, when representatives of 26 Allied nations met in Washington, D.C., and signed the Declaration by the United Nations, which endorsed the Atlantic Charter and presented the united war aims of the Allies. In October 1943, the major Allied powers–Great Britain, the United States, the USSR, and China–met in Moscow and issued the Moscow Declaration, which officially stated the need for an international organization to replace the League of Nations. That goal was reaffirmed at the Allied conference in Tehran in December 1943, and in August 1944 Great Britain, the United States, the USSR, and China met at the Dumbarton Oaks estate in Washington, D.C., to lay the groundwork for the United Nations. Over seven weeks, the delegates sketched out the form of the world body but often disagreed over issues of membership and voting. Compromise was reached by the “Big Three”–the United States, Britain, and the USSR–at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, and all countries that had adhered to the 1942 Declaration by the United Nations were invited to the United Nations founding conference. On April 25, 1945, the United Nations Conference on International Organization convened in San Francisco with 50 nations represented. Three months later, during which time Germany had surrendered, the final Charter of the United Nations was unanimously adopted by the delegates. On June 26, it was signed. The Charter, which consisted of a preamble and 19 chapters divided into 111 articles, called for the U.N. to maintain international peace and security, promote social progress and better standards of life, strengthen international law, and promote the expansion of human rights. The principal organs of the U.N., as specified in the Charter, were the Secretariat, the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Trusteeship Council. On October 24, 1945, the U.N. Charter came into force upon its ratification by the five permanent members of the Security Council and a majority of other signatories. The first U.N. General Assembly, with 51 nations represented, opened in London on January 10, 1946. On October 24, 1949, exactly four years after the United Nations Charter went into effect, the cornerstone was laid for the present United Nations headquarters, located in New York City. Since 1945, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded five times to the United Nations and its organizations and five times to individual U.N. officials.
1945 – US Marines land on Kume Island, where a new radar station is installed.
1945 – On Luzon, the American paratroopers dropped near Aparri link up with the US 37th Division. The divisional headquarters now takes command of the parachute battalion and the regimental task force, sent north earlier, as well as the Filipino guerrillas operating in the area.
1945 – American B-29 Superfortress bombers launch the first in a series of nighttime raids against Japanese oil refineries.
1948 – In order to implement the expanded postwar activities of the Coast Guard in the field of aids to navigation, Congress approved Public Law 786. It provided legislative authority for the Coast Guard to establish and operate maritime aids for the armed forces and LORAN stations essential for the armed forces and maritime and air commerce of the United States.
1948 – In response to the Soviet blockade of land routes into West Berlin, the United States begins a massive airlift of food, water, and medicine to the citizens of the besieged city. For nearly a year, supplies from American planes sustained the over 2 million people in West Berlin. On June 24, 1948, the Soviet Union blocked all road and rail travel to and from West Berlin, which was located within the Soviet zone of occupation in Germany. The Soviet action was in response to the refusal of American and British officials to allow Russia more say in the economic future of Germany. The U.S. government was shocked by the provocative Soviet move, and some in President Harry S. Truman’s administration called for a direct military response. Truman, however, did not want to cause World War III. Instead, he ordered a massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin. On June 26, 1948, the first planes took off from bases in England and western Germany and landed in West Berlin. It was a daunting logistical task to provide food, clothing, water, medicine, and other necessities of life for the over 2 million fearful citizens of the city. For nearly a year, American planes landed around the clock. Over 200,000 planes carried in more than one-and-a-half million tons of supplies. The Soviets persisted with the blockade until May 1949. By then, however, it was apparent to everyone concerned that the blockade had been a diplomatic fiasco for the Russians. Around the world, the Soviets were portrayed as international bullies, holding men, women, and children hostage in West Berlin and threatening them with starvation. The unbelievably successful American airlift also backfired against the Russians by highlighting the technological superiority of the United States. By the time the Soviets ended the blockade, West Germany had become a separate and independent nation and the Russian failure was complete.
1950 – Far East Air Forces cargo planes began the evacuation of 700 U.S. State Department and Korean Military Advisory Group employees and their families. FEAF also sent ten F-51 Mustang fighters to the ROK forces.
1951 – The Soviet Union proposed a cease-fire in the Korean War.
1959 – In a ceremony presided over by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II, the St. Lawrence Seaway is officially opened, creating a navigational channel from the Atlantic Ocean to all the Great Lakes. The seaway, made up of a system of canals, locks, and dredged waterways, extends a distance of nearly 2,500 miles, from the Atlantic Ocean through the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Duluth, Minnesota, on Lake Superior. Work on the massive project was initiated by a joint U.S.-Canadian commission in 1954, and five years later, in April 1959, the icebreaker D’Iberville began the first transit of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Since its official opening, more than two billion tons of cargo, with an estimated worth of more than $300 billion, have moved along its canals and channels. Twenty-eight Naval vessels sail from Atlantic to Great Lakes, arrive to mark the formal opening of Saint Lawrence Seaway to seagoing ships.
1962 – NAVFAC Cape Hatteras makes first Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) detection of a Soviet diesel submarine.
1963 – President Kennedy visited West Berlin, where he made his famous declaration: “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner) at the Berlin Wall.
1964 – A bomb explodes in an airport hangar near where General Westmoreland is addressing US servicemen returning to the United States. Two servicemen are injured, Westmoreland is not.
1965 – Hanoi Radio announces that the Vietcong now have ‘death lists,’ headed by the names of Ambassador Taylor, his deputy Alexis Johnson, Premier Ky, and General Thieu.
1965 – Gen. William Westmoreland, senior U.S. military commander in Vietnam, is given formal authority to commit American troops to battle when he decides they are necessary “to strengthen the relative position of the GVN [Government of Vietnam] forces.” This authorization permitted Westmoreland to put his forces on the offensive. Heretofore, U.S. combat forces had been restricted to protecting U.S. airbases and other facilities.
1967 – An unarmed US Phantom jet strays off course and is shot down by Chinese planes near Hainan Island. The two crewmen eject safely and are rescued from the China Sea by a US Navy helicopter.
1968 – Speaking on behalf of the South Vietnamese House of Representatives, Duong Van Ba demands that Saigon be given a role in the Paris peace talks, asserting that ‘we should tell the United States government and the United States people that we suspect that there is now a plot to sell out South Vietnam to the Communists.’
1968 – Cyrus Vance, deputy US delegate to the peace talks, seeks to break a continuing impasse in the negotiations by appealing to North Vietnam for some sign that it is taking steps to scale down the level of military violence. Although this is the first time that US negotiators have urged military reciprocity in such broad terms, Xuan Thuy rejects the initiative and repeats Hanoi’s demand that all US bombing raids on North Vietnam be unconditionally terminated. Thuy also insists that the Saigon government be replaced by a coalition regime committed to a neutral foreign policy and eventual reunification.
1970 – Secretary of State Laird affirms the US plans to continue bombing raids inside Cambodia after 30 June. Laird makes clear the ‘primary emphasis’ of the raids will be the denial of routes for enemy troops and supplies, but refuses to rule out air support for allied ground combat troops.
1971 – The U.S. Justice Department issued a warrant for Daniel Ellsberg, accusing him of giving away the Pentagon Papers. The infamous Pentagon Papers gave insights into the Johnson administration’s thinking on the Vietnam War.
1972 – The United States establishes a 25-mile-wide buffer zone along Vietnam’s border with China, within which it will not bomb.
1972 – The shift of fighter-bomber squadrons, involving up to 150 U.S. planes and more than 2,000 pilots from Da Nang, to bases in Thailand is completed. The shift was necessitated by the pending withdrawal of the U.S. infantry brigade that provided security for flyers at Da Nang. The departure of the U.S. unit was part of President Richard Nixon’s Vietnamization program that he had instituted in June 1969. Under this program, the responsibility for the war was to be gradually transferred to the South Vietnamese so U.S. forces could be withdrawn.
1973 – Navy Task Force 78 completes minesweeping of North Vietnamese ports.
1975 – There was a firefight on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota as FBI agents pursued a robbery suspect. In 1977 Leonard Peltier, an Ojibwa-Sioux Indian, was found guilty of murdering 2 FBI agents, Ronald Williams and Jack Coler as they lay wounded. In 1983 Peter Matthiessen wrote “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,” that described the related events. The book was pulled out of bookstores after an FBI agent and a former governor sued him for libel. Matthiessen claims to have spoken to the man who actually shot the agents.
1991 – A Kentucky medical examiner announced that test results showed President Zachary Taylor had died in 1850 of natural causes—and not arsenic poisoning, as speculated by a writer. Taylor’s remains were exhumed so that tissue samples could be taken.
1992 – Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III resigned, accepting responsibility for a “leadership failure” that resulted in the Tailhook sex-abuse scandal.
1993 – In retaliation for an Iraqi plot to assassinate former U.S. President George Bush during his April visit to Kuwait, President Bill Clinton orders U.S. warships to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraqi intelligence headquarters in downtown Baghdad. On April 13, 1993, the day before George Bush was scheduled to visit Kuwait and be honored for his victory in the Persian Gulf War, Kuwaiti authorities foiled a car-bomb plot to assassinate him. Fourteen suspects, most of them Iraqi nationals, were arrested, and the next day their massive car bomb was discovered in Kuwait City. Citing “compelling evidence” of the direct involvement of Iraqi intelligence in the assassination attempt, President Clinton ordered a retaliatory attack against their alleged headquarters in the Iraqi capital on June 26. Twenty-three Tomahawk missiles, each costing more than a million dollars, were fired off the USS Peterson in the Red Sea and the cruiser USS Chancellorsville in the Persian Gulf, destroying the building and, according to Iraqi accounts, killing several civilians.
1996 – The Supreme Court ordered the Virginia Military Academy to admit women or forgo state support.
1996 – The US Senate Science, Technology and Space subcommittee sent a live audio feed over the Internet for the first time. The proceedings were on online commerce and encryption software.
1996 – The $1.6 billion Galileo spacecraft was expected to fly to within 527 miles of Ganymede, the largest moon of Jupiter. It was scheduled to photograph Jupiter and four of its 16 moons.
1996 – Guerrilla leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was sworn in as prime minister in Afghanistan as the Taliban militia launched an assault that killed 54 and wounded 118 people. Hekmatyar is a member of the dominant Pashtun group, unlike Rabanni and military commander Ahmad Shah Massoud who belong to the Tajik ethnic group.
1998 – In Thailand four Pakistanis were reported to have been arrested in Bangkok. They were suspected of planning to assassinate US Ambassador William Itoh and to launch a terrorist strike against the US embassy.
1999 – NATO reopened the main airport in Kosovo, 10 miles west of Pristina. The first flight was a Russian cargo plane. An advance contingent of Russian troops flew into Kosovo to help reopen a strategic airport and join an uneasy alliance with NATO peacekeepers.
2001 – Pres. Bush met with Israel’s PM Ariel Sharon who resisted pressure to move faster on a US backed cease-fire accord. Sharon insisted on a complete halt to Palestinian hostilities.
2001 – George Trofimoff (74), a retired US Army Reserve officer, was convicted in Tampa for spying for Moscow for 22 years while serving as a civilian interrogator of refugees and defectors in Germany. He was sentenced to life in prison on Sep 27. Trofimoff, who maintains his innocence, was sentenced to life in prison.
2002 – Ten Pakistani soldiers and two suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in a gun battle in the lawless tribal area bordering Afghanistan.
2004 – Taliban remnants claimed responsibility for the bomb attack that killed two Afghani United Nations election workers in eastern Afghanistan.
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