This Day in U.S. Military History…… June 6

6 June
1639 – Massachusetts granted 500 acres of land to erect a gunpowder mill.
1772 – Haitian explorer Jean Baptiste-Pointe DuSable settled Chicago.
1813 – The U.S. invasion of Canada was halted at Stoney Creek, Ontario.
1822 – Alexis St. Martin, a fur trader at Fort Mackinac in the Michigan territory, was accidentally shot in the abdomen. William Beaumont, a US Army assistant surgeon, treated the wound and St. Martin survived. The stomach wound did not close and Beaumont undertook experiments in 1825 to study the digestive system.
1833 – In Ellicott’s Mills, Maryland, President Andrew Jackson boards a Baltimore & Ohio Railroad train for a pleasure trip to Baltimore. Jackson, who had never been on a train before, was the first president to take a ride on the “Iron Horse.” The steam locomotive was first pioneered in England at the beginning of the 19th century by Richard Trevithick and George Stephenson. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad began operation in 1828 with horse-drawn cars, but after the successful run of the Tom Thumb, a steam train that nearly outraced a horse in a public demonstration in 1830, steam power was added. By 1831, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad had completed a line from Baltimore to Frederick, Maryland. Two years later, Andrew Jackson gave railroad travel its presidential christening. The acceptance of railroads came quickly in the 1830s, and by 1840 the nation had almost 3,000 miles of railway, greater than the combined European total of only 1,800 miles. The railroad network expanded quickly in the years before the Civil War, and by 1860 the American railroad system had become a national network of some 30,000 miles. Nine years later, transcontinental railroad service became possible for the first time.
1862 – Union claims Memphis, Tennessee, the Confederacy’s fifth-largest city, a naval manufacturing yard, and a key Southern industrial center. One of the top priorities for Union commanders at the start of the war was to sever the Confederacy along the Mississippi. In April 1862, the Union scored major victories toward this goal with the capture of New Orleans in the south and the fall of Island No. 10 in the north. For seven weeks following the defeat of Island No. 10, Yankee ships pounded away at Fort Pillow, 40 miles north of Memphis. On June 4, a Rebel garrison abandoned the fort after Confederate troops withdrew from Corinth, Mississippi, leaving them dangerously isolated in Union-held territory. The next day, the Union flotilla steamed to Memphis unopposed. The city had no fortifications, because the Confederates had directed their resources toward strengthening the installation upriver. All that stood between the Yankees and Memphis was a Rebel fleet of eight ships. On the morning of June 6, thousands of residents lined the shores to watch the action. Three Confederate ships were rammed and sunk, and one Union ship was struck and severely damaged. Union guns aboard the other ships began a devastating barrage that destroyed all but one of the Confederate vessels. The Rebel fleet was decimated with only four Union casualties and one damaged ship.
1862 – Battle of Port Royal, SC (Port Royal Ferry).
1864 – Lieutenant Commander Owen, U.S.S. Louisville, covered the embarkation of 8,000 Union troops under General A. J. Smith on transports near Sunnyside, Arkansas, on the Mississippi River. Under Owen’s charge, the transports had landed the Federal force on 4 June, and the soldiers had engaged Confederate units near Bayou Macon, Louisiana, forcing the Southerners into the interior. Owen noted in his report to Rear Admiral Porter: “The object that brought the enemy here in the first place doubtless still remains, and I may expect him any time after the departure of General Smith. Unless Marmaduke’s forces, with his artillery, are driven away or destroyed, they will very much annoy navigation between Cypress Bend and Sunnyside.”
1865 – William Quantrill, the man who gave Frank and Jesse James their first education in killing, dies from wounds sustained in a skirmish with Union soldiers in Kentucky. Born and raised in Ohio, Quantrill was involved in a number of shady enterprises in Utah and Kansas during his teens. In his early 20s, he fled to Missouri, where he became a strong supporter of pro-slavery settlers in their sometimes-violent conflict with their antislavery neighbors. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the 24-year-old Quantrill became the leader of an irregular force of Confederate soldiers that became known as Quantrill’s Raiders. By 1862, Union forces had established control over Missouri, but Quantrill’s Raiders continued to harass the northern army and unguarded pro-Union towns over the next three years. Quantrill and other guerrilla leaders recruited their soldiers from Confederate sympathizers who resented what they saw as the unfairly harsh Union rule of their state. Among those who joined him was a 20-year-old farm kid named Frank James. His younger brother, Jesse, joined an allied guerrilla force a year later. In August 1863, Frank James was with Quantrill when he led a savage attack on the largely defenseless town of Lawrence, Kansas. Angered that the townspeople had allowed Lawrence to be used as a sporadic base for Union soldiers, Quantrill and his guerrillas shot every man and boy they saw. After killing at least 150 male civilians, the raiders set the town on fire. In May 1865, Quantrill was badly wounded in a skirmish with Union forces, and he died on this day in 1865. Since Quantrill’s men were guerillas rather than legitimate soldiers, they were denied the general amnesty given to the Confederate army after the war ended. Some, like Frank and Jesse James, took this as an excuse to become criminals and bank robbers.
1918 – The first large-scale battle fought by American soldiers in World War I begins in Belleau Wood, northwest of the Paris-to-Metz road. In late May 1918, the third German offensive of the year penetrated the Western Front to within 45 miles of Paris. U.S. forces under General John J. Pershing helped halt the German advance, and on June 6 Pershing ordered a counteroffensive to drive the Germans out of Belleau Wood. U.S. Marines under General James Harbord led the attack against the four German divisions positioned in the woods and by the end of the first day suffered more than 1,000 casualties. For the next three weeks, the Marines, backed by U.S. Army artillery, launched many attacks into the forested area, but German General Erich Ludendorff was determined to deny the Americans a victory. Ludendorff continually brought up reinforcements from the rear, and the Germans attacked the U.S. forces with machine guns, artillery, and gas. Finally, on June 26, the Americans prevailed but at the cost of nearly 10,000 dead, wounded, or missing in action. This is first battle where the AEF experienced the heavy casualties associated with the Great War. It represents the embodiment of U.S. Marine Corps determination and dedication and served as a signal to both allies and adversaries that America was on the Western Front to fight.
1918 – Battalions of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments frontally assault the woods from the south and west and attempt to capture Bouresches on the east edge of Belleau Wood. This afternoon attack was to be coordinated between the 3rd Batt, 5th Marines [3/5] and 3rd Batt, 6th Marines [3/6] with the latter taking the village of Bouresches the next day.
1924 – The German Reichstag accepted the Dawes Plan, an American plan to help Germany pay off its war debts.
1932 – The first gasoline tax levied by Congress was enacted as a part of the Revenue Act of 1932. The Act mandated a series of excise taxes on a wide variety of consumer goods. Congress placed a tax of 1¢ per gallon on gasoline and other motor fuel sold.
1933 – The US Employment Service was created.
1941 – The U.S. government authorized the seizure of foreign ships in U.S. ports.
1942 – The 1st nylon parachute jump was made in Hartford, Ct., by Adeline Gray.
1942 – Japanese troops landed on Kiska, Aleutians.
1942 – The Battle of Midway. Admiral Yamamoto considers engaging in a surface battle against the US carrier fleet, but decides to retreat instead. The loss of the main portion of the Japanese carrier fleet and their aircraft pilots in the battle on June 4th has robbed the Japanese of the initiative in the naval battle in the Pacific. Also of importance is the use of code-breaking by the Americans to intercept Japanese planning. Prior knowledge of Japanese intentions at Midway allowed the Americans to prepare a trap.
1943 – The L.A. Zoot Suit Riot escalates and spreads into East Los Angeles. California Attorny General Kenny meets with Mayor McWilliams regarding the investigation and creates the McGucken Committee. Chaired by the Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Joseph T. McGucken, the committee blames the press for its irresponsible tone and the police for overreacting to the riot.
1944 – Operation Overlord begins. In Normandy, France, during the predawn hours, the US 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions are dropped inland from the right flank beach. The British 6th Airborne Division is landed inland from the left flank beach. These forces achieve their objectives and create confusion among the German defenders. The Allied Expeditionary Force lands in Normandy at dawn. Forces of the 21st Army Group (Field Marshal Montgomery) commands the US 1st Army (General Bradley) on the right and the British 2nd Army (General Dempsey) on the left. There are five invasion beaches: Utah on the right flank, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, on the left flank. At Utah, the US 7th Corps (General Collins) lands with US 4th Division spearheading the assault. The troops advance inland against light resistance. Admiral Moon provides naval support. At Omaha, the US 5th Corps (General Gerow) lands. There is heavy resistance and by the end of the day the American forces have advance less than one mile inland. Admiral Hall provides naval support. At Gold, the British 30th Corps (General Bucknall) lands with 50th Infantry Division and 8th Armored Brigade leading the assault. There is reasonable advance inland although the assigned objectives are not met. At Juno beach, the British 1st Corps (General Crocker) lands with the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division and the Canadian 2nd Armored Brigade leading the assault. The tanks and infantry quickly push inland. Naval support is under the command of Commodore Oliver. At Sword beach, other elements of the British 1st Corps land. The British 3rd Infantry Division, 27th Armored Brigade and several Marine and Commando units lead the assault. The beach is quickly secured and bridges over the Orne River are captured but the first day objectives are not reached. The German 21st Panzer Division counterattacks in the late afternoon but does not dislodge the British defenders. Overall, the Allies land almost 150,000 men. Naval support and massive aerial interdiction prevents the German defenders from concentrating forces for a decisive counterattack. Despite the German resistance, Allied casualties overall were relatively light. The United States and Britain each lost about 1,000 men, and Canada 355. Before the day was over, 155,000 Allied troops would be in Normandy. However, the United States managed to get only half of the 14,000 vehicles and a quarter of the 14,500 tons of supplies they intended on shore. Three factors were decisive in the success of the Allied invasion. First, German counterattacks were firm but sparse, enabling the Allies to create a broad bridgehead, or advanced position, from which they were able to build up enormous troop strength. Second, Allied air cover, which destroyed bridges over the Seine, forced the Germans to suffer long detours, and naval gunfire proved decisive in protecting the invasion troops. And third, division and confusion within the German ranks as to where the invasion would start and how best to defend their position helped the Allies. (Hitler, convinced another invasion was coming the next day east of the Seine River, refused to allow reserves to be pulled from that area.) Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, commander of Britain’s Twenty-first Army Group (but under the overall command of General Eisenhower, for whom Montgomery, and his ego, proved a perennial thorn in the side), often claimed later that the invasion had come off exactly as planned. That was a boast, as evidenced by the failure to take Caen on the first day, as scheduled. While the operation was a decided success, considering the number of troops put ashore and light casualties, improvisation by courageous and quick-witted commanders also played an enormous role.
1944 – Brig. General Norman “Dutch” Cota was the first American General to step foot on Omaha Beach. Cota, assistant commander of the 29th Infantry Division, heroically spurred his men to cross the beach under withering German fire. He went on to lead his infantrymen across France to the Siegfried Line and in the battle of Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge.
1944 – The Allied invasion of France, commonly known as “D-Day” begins as Guardsmen from the 29th Infantry Division (DC, MD, VA) storm onto what will forever after be known as “bloody Omaha” Beach. The lead element, Virginia’s 116th Infantry, suffers nearly 80% casualties but gains the foothold needed for the invasion to succeed. The 116’s artillery support, the 111th Field Artillery Battalion, also from Virginia, loses all 12 of its guns in high surf trying to get on the beach. Its men take up arms from the dead and fight as infantrymen. Engineer support came from the District of Columbia’s 121st Engineer Battalion. Despite high loses too, its men succeed in blowing holes in several obstacles clearing paths for the men to get inland off the beach. In the early afternoon, Maryland’s 115th Infantry lands behind the 116th and moves through its shattered remnants to start the movement in off the beach. Supporting the invasion was the largest air fleet known to history. Among the units flying missions were the Guards’ 107th (MI) and 109th (MN) Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons The Normandy campaign lasted until the end of July with four Guard infantry divisions; the 28th (PA), 29th, 30th (NC, SC, TN) and the 35th (KS, MO, NE) taking part along with dozens of non-divisional units all earning the “Normandy” streamer.
1944 – Cherokee tribal members communicated via radios in their native language on the Normandy beaches. Some 6,603 Americans were killed along the coast of France during the D-day invasion. A total of 9,758 Allied soldiers died during the invasion. “D-Day” by Stephen Ambrose was published in 1994.
1944 – Ninety-nine Coast Guard cutters, Coast Guard-manned warships and landing craft participated in the landings at Normandy, France. CAPT Miles Imlay took command of one of the assault groups attacking Omaha Beach during the invasion. He directed the invasion from his command USS LCI(L)-83. LCI(L)s 85, 91, 92, and 93 (Coast Guard-manned) were lost at the Omaha beachhead that day. Sixty cutters sailed in support of the invasion forces, acted as search and rescue craft for each of the landings. A Coast Guard manned assault transport, the USS Bayfield, served as the command and control vessel for the assault at Utah beach.
1944 – The French Expeditionary Corps (part of US 5th Army) completes the capture of Tivoli. Recent combat has depleted 4 German infantry divisions and reduced six of their panzer and panzer grenadier divisions.
1944 – On Biak, elements of the US 41st Division (ORARNG) prepare to advance on Mokmer Airfield while other elements are engaged near Ibdi.
1945 – Coast Guard-manned USS Sheepscot (AOG-24) went aground and was lost off Iwo Jima. No lives were lost.
1945 – On Okinawa, elements of the US 6th Marine Division advance in the Oruka Peninsula following their landing. Naha airfield is secured. Elements of the US 96th Division (US 24th Corps) reach the lower slopes of Mount Yaeju and are halted by intensive Japanese fire.
1945 – American forces advance without meeting significant resistance in the Cayagan valley, on Luzon, as well as on Minadanao.
1949 – George Orwell’s novel of a dystopian future, Nineteen Eighty-four, is published. The novel’s all-seeing leader, known as “Big Brother,” becomes a universal symbol for intrusive government and oppressive bureaucracy. George Orwell was the nom de plume of Eric Blair, who was born in India. The son of a British civil servant, Orwell attended school in London and won a scholarship to the elite prep school Eton, where most students came from wealthy upper-class backgrounds, unlike Orwell. Rather than going to college like most of his classmates, Orwell joined the Indian Imperial Police and went to work in Burma in 1922. During his five years there, he developed a severe sense of class guilt; finally in 1927, he chose not to return to Burma while on holiday in England. Orwell, choosing to immerse himself in the experiences of the urban poor, went to Paris, where he worked menial jobs, and later spent time in England as a tramp. He wrote Down and Out in Paris and London in 1933, based on his observation of the poorer classes, and in 1937 his Road to Wigan Pier documented the life of the unemployed in northern England. Meanwhile, he had published his first novel, Burmese Days, in 1934. Orwell became increasingly left wing in his views, although he never committed himself to any specific political party. He went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War to fight with the Republicans, but later fled as communism gained an upper hand in the struggle on the left. His barnyard fable, Animal Farm (1945), shows how the noble ideals of egalitarian economies can easily be distorted. The book brought him his first taste of critical and financial success. Orwell’s last novel, Nineteen Eighty-four, brought him lasting fame with its grim vision of a future where all citizens are watched constantly and language is twisted to aid in oppression. Orwell died of tuberculosis in 1950.
1951 – U.N. naval aircraft, along with Air Force and Marine Corps reinforcements, flew 230 sorties against enemy troop concentrations and supply lines in the central and western sectors.
1952 – Operation COUNTER began as the 45th Infantry Division (OKARNG) launched a two-phased series of attacks to establish strategic outpost sites in the Old Baldy area. The 45th Infantry Division seized 11 outposts west of Chorwon. Repeated communist counterattacks during the remainder of the month failed to dislodge friendly troops.
1952 – F-86 Sabres scored one of the greatest single victories of the war, destroying eight MiGs and damaging two others.
1964 – The UN Security Council names Brazil, the Ivory Coast, and Morocco to form a commission to investigate conditions on the Cambodia-Vietnam border.
1964 – Two U.S. Navy jets flying low-altitude target reconnaissance missions over Laos are shot down by communist Pathet Lao ground fire. Washington immediately ordered armed jets to escort the reconnaissance flights, and by June 9, escort jets were attacking Pathet Lao headquarters. The downing of the two reconnaissance aircraft and the retaliatory strikes were made public, but the full extent of the U.S. involvement in Laos was not. In fact, the U.S. fighter-bombers were flying combat missions in support of Royal Lao forces in their war against the communist Pathet Lao and would continue to do so until 1973.
1972 – South Vietnamese forces drive out all but a few of the communist troops remaining in Kontum. Over 200 North Vietnamese had been killed in six battles in and around the city. The city had come under attack in April when the North Vietnamese had launched their Nguyen Hue Offensive (later called the Easter Offensive), a massive invasion by North Vietnamese forces designed to strike the blow that would win them the war. The attacking force included 14 infantry divisions and 26 separate regiments, with more than 120,000 troops and approximately 1,200 tanks and other armored vehicles. In addition to Kontum, the other main North Vietnamese objectives were Quang Tri in the north and An Loc farther to the south. Initially, the South Vietnamese defenders were almost overwhelmed, particularly in the northernmost provinces, where they abandoned their positions in Quang Tri and fled south in the face of the enemy onslaught. At Kontum and An Loc, the South Vietnamese were more successful in defending against the attacks, but only after weeks of bitter fighting. Although the defenders suffered heavy casualties, they managed to hold their own with the aid of U.S. advisors and American airpower. Fighting continued all over South Vietnam into the summer months, but eventually the South Vietnamese forces prevailed against the invaders and retook Quang Tri in September. With the communist invasion blunted, President Nixon declared that the South Vietnamese victory proved the viability of his Vietnamization program, which he had instituted in 1969 to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces so that U.S. troops could be withdrawn.
1977 – “Washington Post” reported that US had developed a neutron bomb.
1985 – CGC Polar Sea departed Seattle for a voyage through the Northwest Passage by way of the Panama Canal, the east coast, and then Greenland, sparking an international incident with Canada. She completed the first solo circumnavigation of the North American continent by a U.S. vessel and the first trip by a Polar-Class icebreaker. She also captured the record for the fastest transit of the historic northern route. She arrived back in Seattle on 27 October 1985.
1988 – Morton Thiokol Inc., which built the booster rocket involved in the Challenger explosion in 1986, announced it would not bid to build the next generation of rocket motors for the nation’s manned space shuttles.
1991 – NATO issued a statement saying it would not accept any “coercion or intimidation” against the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe.
1995 – US astronaut Norman Thagard broke NASA’s space endurance record of 84 days, one hour and 16 minutes, aboard the Russian space station “Mir.”
1995 – NATO launched 2 air raids against an ammunition dump in Serb-held central Bosnia. The air strikes touched off a crises in which [270] 350 UN peacekeepers were taken hostage by Bosnian Serbs. Serb forces seized 270 UN peacekeepers, shackled them to potential targets, and ordered them to plead on camera for the NATO air attacks to stop. Serbia improved its relations with the West by helping to arrange the release of the hostages.
1996 – China agreed conditionally to a ban on the use of nuclear explosions for civilian projects.
1996 – Cuba announced plans to create free trade zones on the island.
1998 – The UN Security Council demanded in a unanimous vote that India and Pakistan refrain from further nuclear tests and sign nuclear control agreements.
1999 – The Shuttle Discover landed at Kennedy Space Center just after 2 a.m. following a ten-day mission and the first docking with the new int’l. space station.
1999 – NATO officials failed to reach an agreement with Yugoslav military officers on withdrawal plans from Kosovo. Bombing continued on Yugoslav army positions near the Albania-Kosovo border.
1999 – NATO said that Yugoslav army troops and police had gone on a looting spree in Pristina and Prizren.
1999 – In Iraq US and British warplanes struck military facilities after being fired on in the no-fly zone of southern Iraq.
2001 – Pres. Bush announced plans to restart negotiations with North Korea on issues ranging from missile production to border soldier deployment.
2002 – Pres. Bush proposed a new Cabinet department for domestic security. The Department of Homeland Security would operate on a $37.5 billion budget and have 169,154 employees.
2003 – Chile became the first South American country to sign a free trade agreement with the United States.
2003 – An Iraqi prisoner (52) of war was found dead at a camp run by the 1st Marine Division near Nasiriyah. On Oct 8 Marine reservists stationed at Camp Pendleton were charged in connection with his death.
2003 – The Netherlands said it will send 1,100 peacekeepers to southern Iraq to join the British-led multinational stabilization force.
2004 – The US military free 320 prisoners at Abu Ghraib leaving some 3,100.
2006 – The United States was successful in tracking Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in a targeted killing, while attending a meeting in an isolated safehouse approximately 8 km (5.0 mi) north of Baqubah. Having been tracked by a British UAV, radio contact was made between the controller and two United States Air Force F-16C jets which identified the house and at 14:15 GMT, the lead jet dropped two 500-pound (230 kg) guided bombs, a laser-guided GBU-12 and GPS-guided GBU-38 on the building where he was located.

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