632 – In Medina, located in present-day Saudi Arabia, Muhammad, one of the most influential religious and political leaders in history, dies in the arms of Aishah, his third and favorite wife. Born in Mecca of humble origins, Muhammad married a wealthy widow at 25 years old and lived the next 15 years as an unremarkable merchant. In 610, in a cave in Mount Hira north of Mecca, he had a vision in which he heard God, speaking through the angel Gabriel, command him to become the Arab prophet of the “true religion.” Thus began a lifetime of religious revelations, which he and others collected as the Qur’an. These revelations provided the foundation for the Islamic religion. Muhammad regarded himself as the last prophet of the Judaic-Christian tradition, and he adopted the theology of these older religions while introducing new doctrines. His inspired teachings also brought unity to the Bedouin tribesmen of Arabia, an event that had sweeping consequences for the rest of the world. By the summer of 622, Muhammad had gained a substantial number of converts in Mecca, leading the city’s authorities, who had a vested interest in preserving the city’s pagan religion, to plan his assassination. Muhammad fled to Medina, a city some 200 miles north of Mecca, where he was given a position of considerable political power. At Medina, he built a model theocratic state and administered a rapidly growing empire. In 629, Muhammad returned to Mecca as a conqueror. During the next two and a half years, numerous disparate Arab tribes converted to his religion. By his death on June 8, 632, he was the effective ruler of all southern Arabia, and his missionaries, or legates, were active in the Eastern Empire, Persia, and Ethiopia. During the next century, vast conquests continued under Muhammad’s successors and allies, and the Muslim advance was not halted until the Battle of Tours in France in 732. By this time, the Muslim empire, among the largest the world had ever seen, stretched from India across the Middle East and North Africa, and up through Western Europe’s Iberian peninsula. The spread of Islam continued after the end of the Arab conquest, and many cultures in Africa and Asia voluntarily adopted the religion. Today, Islam is the world’s second-largest religion.
1813 – David D. Porter, Union Admiral, was born.
1830 – Sloop-of-war Vincennes becomes first U.S. warship to circle the globe.
1845 – Seventh President Andrew Jackson dies. Born in South Carolina in 1767, Jackson gained his first military experience at the age of 15 when, as a member of a local militia company, he helped to repel a British raiding party in 1782. Later he served in the Tennessee militia, rising to the rank of major general. He was affectionately known by his troops as “Old Hickory” because of his hard but fair discipline. During the War of 1812 he commanded a combined force of Regulars and militiamen in suppressing the Creek Indians in Alabama. His determined leadership soon led to his appointment as a major general in the Regular Army in 1814, just in time to lead a combined Regular and militia force in the defense of New Orleans against a British attack in January 1815. In 1818-1819 he lead a combined army of Regulars and militia in his invasion of western Florida chasing raiding Indians who sought sanctuary in the then Spanish colony. In fact, his action helped induce the Spanish government to sell Florida to the US. Jackson was elected president in 1828. In 1918, the 30th Division, composed of National Guard soldiers from the Carolina’s and Tennessee, proudly adopted a division shoulder patch that featured the Roman numerals “XXX” indicating the division’s designation surrounded by the letters “OH” for “Old Hickory” in honor of Jackson. 1853 – Commodore Matthew Perry arrives at Uraga, Japan to begin negotiations for a treaty with Japan.
1861 – Tennessee voted to secede from the Union and joined the Confederacy.
1861 – U.S.S. Mississippi, Flag Officer Mervine, set blockade at Key West.
1862 – Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s notches another victory during the campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. Sent to the valley to relieve pressure on the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia, which had been pinned on the James Peninsula by Union General George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, Jackson’s force staged one of the most stunning and brilliant campaigns of the war. On May 25, Jackson routed a Union force commanded by Nathaniel Banks at Winchester in the northern Shenandoah Valley. The defeat sent panic through Washington, D.C., because Jackson was now poised to invade the capital from the north. President Lincoln ordered Banks to regroup and head south into the valley, while an army under Irwin McDowell headed in from the east, and one under John C. Fremont moved in from the west to pinch Jackson’s troops and destroy his army. Jackson led the Yankees on a chase south through the valley, beating the Union forces to Port Republic, the site of a crucial bridge where the Federals could have united to defeat Jackson. He kept the bulk of his force at Port Republic and sent General Richard C. Ewell and 5,000 troops to nearby Cross Keys. On June 8, Freemont’s troops advanced on Ewell’s and launched a halfhearted attack that failed to disrupt the Confederate lines. Fremont engaged only 5 of his 24 regiments, followed by a mild artillery bombardment. Casualties were relatively light, with Ewell losing 288 men to Fremont’s 684. Cross Keys was only a prelude to the larger Battle of Port Republic on June 9, but it was another Union failure in Jackson’s amazing 1862 Shenandoah campaign.
1862 – U.S.S. Monitor, Dacotah, Naugatuck, Seminole, and Susquehanna by direction of the President”-shelled Confederate batteries at Sewell’s Point, Virginia, as Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough reported, ”mainly with the view of ascertaining the practicability of landing a body of troops thereabouts” to move on Norfolk. Whatever rumors President Lincoln had received about Confederates abandoning Norfolk were now confirmed; a tug deserted from Norfolk and brought news that the evacuation was well underway and that C.S.S. Virginia, with her accompanying small gunboats, planned to proceed up the James or York River. It was planned that when Virginia came out, as she had on the 7th, the Union fleet would retire with U.S.S. Monitor in the rear hoping to draw the powerful but under-engined warship into deep water where she might be rammed by high speed steamers. The bombardment uncovered reduced but considerable strength at Sewell’s Point. Virginia came out but not far enough to be rammed. Two days later President Lincoln wrote Flag Officer Goldsborough: “I send you this copy of your report of yesterday for the purpose of saying to you in writing that you are quite right in supposing the movement made by you and therein reported was made in accordance with my wishes verbally expressed to you in advance. I avail myself of the occasion to thank you for your courtesy and all your conduct, so far as known to me, during my brief visit here.” President Lincoln, acting as Commander-in-Chief in the field at Hampton Roads, also directed Flag Officer Goldsborough: “If you have tolerable confidence that you can successfully contend with the Merrimack without the help of the Galena and two accompanying gunboats, send the Galena and two gunboats up the James River at once” to support General McClellan. This wise use of power afloat by the President silenced two shore batteries and forced gunboats C.S.S. Jamestown and Patrick Henry to return up the James River.
1862 – Landing party from U.S.S. Iroquois, Commander James S. Palmer, seized arsenal and took possession of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
1863 – Residents of Vicksburg, Miss., fled into caves as Grant’s army began shelling the town.
1863 – Crew from a Confederate launch commanded by Master James Duke, CSN, boarded and captured steam tug Boston at Pass a l’Outre, Mississippi River, and put to sea, then capturing and burning Union barks Lenox and Texana. Duke carried Boston safely into Mobile on 11 June.
1864 – President Lincoln forwarded to Congress a dispatch from Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton regarding the Enrollment Act, which instituted a military draft. Stanton suggested that Congress repeal the Act’s “three hundred… dollar clause,” which allowed draftees to get out of military service by paying $300. Stanton explained, “ample experience has now shown that the pecuniary exemption from service frustrates the object of the enrolment law, by furnishing money instead of men.” Lincoln informed Congress that he concurred with Stanton’s recommendation.
Photo: Civil War induction officer with lottery box
1864 – Lieutenant Commander Ramsay, U.S.S. Chillicothe, led an expedition up the Atchafalaya River, Louisiana, accompanied by U.S.S. Neosho, Acting Lieutenant Howard, and U.S.S. Port Hindman, Acting Lieutenant Pearce, to silence a Confederate battery above Simmesport. The Union gun-boats, after a short engagement, forced the Southerners to abandon their position and a landing party captured the guns.
1874 – Chief Cochise, one of the great leaders of the Apache Indians in their battles with the Anglo-Americans, dies on the Chiricahua reservation in southeastern Arizona. Little is known of Cochise’s early life. By the mid-19th century, he had become a prominent leader of the Chiricahua band of Apache Indians living in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Like many other Chiricahua Apache, Cochise resented the encroachment of Mexican and American settlers on their traditional lands. Cochise led numerous raids on the settlers living on both sides of the border, and Mexicans and Americans alike began to call for military protection and retribution. War between the U.S. and Cochise, however, resulted from a misunderstanding. In October 1860, a band of Apache attacked the ranch of an Irish-American named John Ward and kidnapped his adopted son, Felix Tellez. Although Ward had been away at the time of the raid, he believed that Cochise had been the leader of the raiding Apache. Ward demanded that the U.S. Army rescue the kidnapped boy and bring Cochise to justice. The military obliged by dispatching a force under the command of Lieutenant George Bascom. Unaware that they were in any danger, Cochise and many of his top men responded to Bascom’s invitation to join him for a night of entertainment at a nearby stage station. When the Apache arrived, Bascom’s soldiers arrested them. Cochise told Bascom that he had not been responsible for the kidnapping of Felix Tellez, but the lieutenant refused to believe him. He ordered Cochise be kept as a hostage until the boy was returned. Cochise would not tolerate being imprisoned unjustly. He used his knife to cut a hole in the tent he was held in and escaped. During the next decade, Cochise and his warriors increased their raids on American settlements and fought occasional skirmishes with soldiers. Panicked settlers abandoned their homes, and the Apache raids took hundreds of lives and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damages. By 1872, the U.S. was anxious for peace, and the government offered Cochise and his people a huge reservation in the southeastern corner of Arizona Territory if they would cease hostilities. Cochise agreed, saying, “The white man and the Indian are to drink of the same water, eat of the same bread, and be at peace.” The great chief did not have the privilege of enjoying his hard-won peace for long. In 1874, he became seriously ill, possibly with stomach cancer. He died on this day in 1874. That night his warriors painted his body yellow, black, and vermilion, and took him deep into the Dragoon Mountains. They lowered his body and weapons into a rocky crevice, the exact location of which remains unknown. Today, however, that section of the Dragoon Mountains is known as Cochise’s Stronghold. About a decade after Cochise died, Felix Tellez–the boy whose kidnapping had started the war–resurfaced as an Apache-speaking scout for the U.S. Army. He reported that a group of Western Apache, not Cochise, had kidnapped him.
1880 – Captain W. B. Remey was the first Marine appointed Judge Advocate of the Navy.
1904 – U.S. Marines landed in Tangiers, Morocco, to protect U.S. citizens.
1918 – Prisoners of War Conference at the Hague opens.
1937 – Observation of total eclipse of the sun by U.S. Navy detachment commanded by CAPT J. F. Hellweg, USN, participating in the National Geographic Society – United States Navy Eclipse Expedition at Canton Island in the Phoenix Islands, Pacific Ocean. USS Avocet was assigned to this expediton.
1943 – Senior military officials bring the Zoot Suit Riot under control by declaring Los Angeles off-limits to all sailors, soldiers, and marines. The Shore Patrol is under orders to arrest any disorderly personnel. The Los Angeles City Council passes a resolution banning the wearing of zoot suits in public, punishable by a 50-day jail term.
1944 – A second wave of Allied troops has landed. Elements of the US 7th Corps, from Utah beach, advance toward Cherbourg. The 4th Division engages in heavy fighting near Azeville. Elements of the US 5th Corps, on Omaha beach, capture Isigny but cannot establish a link with the American forces on Utah. A link is established between Omaha and Gold beach once British Marines, part of the 30th Corps, take Port-en-Bessin.
1944 – Russian Premier Joseph Stalin telegraphs British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to announce that the Allied success at Normandy “is a source of joy to us all.” He renews promises to launch his own offensive on the Eastern Front, as had been agreed upon at the Tehran Conference in late ’43, and thereby prevent Hitler from transferring German troops from the east to support troops at Normandy.
1944 – German rearguards slow the advance of the US 5th Army and British 8th Army.
1944 – Fighting continues on Biak Island. A Japanese attempt to ship reinforcements to Biak is intercepted by the cruiser squadron commanded by Admiral Crutchley. It is forced to retreat. On the mainland, at the American beachhead around Aitape, US forces begin counterattacking.
1945 – There are reports that every able bodied Japanese man, woman and child is being given instructions in the fighting of tanks, paratroops and other invading forces.
1945 – On Okinawa, in the north heavy fighting continues on the Oroku peninsula. In the south, the US 24th Corps prepares to attack Mount Yaeju.
1945 – On Luzon, patrols of the US 37th Division reach the Magat river. The US 145th Infantry Regiment (US 37th Division) takes Solano and advances as far as Bagabag, towards the Cagayan valley.
1945 – The Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, says at a press conference that British forces would carry the full weight of military responsibilities in Burma and noted the these forces had been reinforced since the end of the war in Europe.
1951 – Paul Bobel, Werner Braune, Erich Naumann, Otto Ohlendorf, Oswald Pohl, W. Schallenmair & Otto Schmidt, last Nazi war criminals, were hanged by Americans at Landsberg Fortress.
1953 – U.N. and communist delegates at the peace talks signed an agreement on the exchange of prisoners. South Korea refused to accept the truce terms.
1958 – Navy and Post Office deliver first official missile mail when USS Barbero (SS-317) fired Regulus II missile with 3000 letters 100 miles east of Jacksonville, FL to Mayport, FL.
1965 – A State Department press officer notes that, “American forces would be available for combat support together with Vietnamese forces when and if necessary,” alerting the press to an apparently major change in the U.S. commitment to the war. Prior to this time, U.S. forces had been restricted to protecting American airbases and other installations. The next day, the White House tried to calm the protests by some in Congress and the media who were alarmed at this potential escalation of the war by issuing a statement claiming, “There has been no change in the missions of United States ground combat units in Vietnam.” The statement went on to explain that General Westmoreland, senior U.S. commander in Saigon, did have the authority to employ troops “in support of Vietnamese forces faced with aggressive attack.” Later in the month, Westmoreland was given formal authority to commit U.S. forces to battle when he decided they were necessary “to strengthen the relative position of the GVN [Government of Vietnam] forces.” This authority and the influx of American combat troops that followed forever changed the role of the United States in the war.
1966 – Gemini astronaut Gene Cernan attempted to become the first man to orbit the Earth untethered to a space capsule, but was unable to when he exhausts himself fitting into his rocket pack.
1967 – During the Six-Day War, Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attack the USS Liberty in international waters off Egypt’s Gaza Strip. The intelligence ship, well-marked as an American vessel and only lightly armed, was attacked first by Israeli aircraft that fired napalm and rockets at the ship. The Liberty attempted to radio for assistance, but the Israeli aircraft blocked the transmissions. Eventually, the ship was able to make contact with the U.S. carrier Saratoga, and 12 fighter jets and four tanker planes were dispatched to defend the Liberty. When word of their deployment reached Washington, however, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered them recalled to the carrier, and they never reached the Liberty. The reason for the recall remains unclear. Back in the Mediterranean, the initial air raid against the Liberty was over. Nine of the 294 crewmembers were dead and 60 were wounded. Suddenly, the ship was attacked by Israeli torpedo boats, which launched torpedoes and fired artillery at the ship. Under the command of its wounded captain, William L. McGonagle, the Liberty managed to avert four torpedoes, but one struck the ship at the waterline. Heavily damaged, the ship launched three lifeboats, but these were also attacked–a violation of international law. Failing to sink the Liberty, which displaced 10,000 tons, the Israelis finally desisted. In all, 34 Americans were killed and 171 were wounded in the two-hour attack. In the attack’s aftermath, the Liberty managed to limp to a safe port. Israel later apologized for the attack and offered $6.9 million in compensation, claiming that it had mistaken the Liberty for an Egyptian ship. However, Liberty survivors, and some former U.S. officials, believe that the attack was deliberate, staged to conceal Israel’s pending seizure of Syria’s Golan Heights, which occurred the next day. The ship’s listening devices would likely have overheard Israeli military communications planning this controversial operation. Captain McGonagle was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic command of the Liberty during and after the attack.
1969 – President Nixon and South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu meet at Midway Island in the Pacific. At the meeting, Nixon announced that 25,000 U.S. troops would be withdrawn by the end of August. Nixon and Thieu emphasized that South Vietnamese forces would replace U.S. forces. Along with this announcement of the first U.S. troop withdrawal, Nixon discussed what would become known as “Vietnamization.” Under this new policy, Nixon intended to initiate steps to increase the combat capability of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces so that the South Vietnamese would eventually be able to assume full responsibility for the war. After the initial withdrawal was accomplished in August, 14 more increments departed between late 1969 and 1972. By the time the Paris Peace Accords were signed in January 1973, there were only 27,000 U.S. troops left in South Vietnam (down from a high of over 540,000 in April 1969). These remaining personnel were withdrawn in March 1973 in accordance with the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords.
1970 – In a speech delivered in Hanoi, Norodom Sihanouk pledges Cambodians will fight with the Vietnamese Communists to defeat US ‘imperialism.’
1982 – President Reagan became the first American chief executive to address a joint session of the British Parliament.
1987 – Fawn Hall began testifying at the Iran-Contra hearings, describing how, as secretary to National Security aide Oliver L. North, she helped to shred some documents and spirit away others.
1988 – The judge in the Iran-Contra conspiracy case ruled that Oliver North, John Poindexter, Richard Secord and Albert Hakim had to be tried separately.
1990 – CDR Rosemary Mariner becomes first Navy women to command fleet jet aircraft squadron.
1991 – General Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of Allied forces in Operation “Desert Storm” leads the National Victory Parade up Pennsylvania Avenue past the reviewing stand holding President George H.W. Bush and other dignitaries in the first such military parade held in the nation’s capital since the end of World War I. Among the contingents of military units are composite battalions of Air and Army Guard personnel who served in theater.
1995 – A Marine tactical recovery team from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit stationed on board the USS Kearsarge rescued a downed U.S. pilot, Captain Scott O’Grady, USAF, from Bosnian-Serb territory in Bosnia.
1998 – In New Mexico the $77 million Sloan Digital Sky Survey was reported to be about to start probing the universe.
1998 – The shuttle Discovery pulled away from Mir, ending America’s three-year space partnership with Russia.
1999 – The United States, Russia and six leading democracies authorized a text calling for a peacekeeping force in Kosovo. The G8 agreed to the context of a UN Security Council resolution to end the conflict in Kosovo.
2000 – In Greece Brigadier Stephen Saunders (53), a British diplomat, was assassinated in Athens. The November 17 terrorist group claimed responsibility, saying it killed Saunders because of his role in NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia. In 2002 Iraklis Kostaris was charged with participating in the murder and Vassilis Xiros confessed to the assassination.
2001 – Five Cuban men were convicted in the US for operating as unregistered foreign agents. Gerardo Hernandez (36) was sentenced to life in prison on Dec 12.
2003 – A coalition of US mayors meeting in Denver asked federal officials to bypass state governments and give them the money they needed to beef up homeland security.
2003 – Thai police, on a tip from U.S. authorities, arrest Narong Penanam, who tried to sell cesium-137 to make a “dirty bomb.”
2004 – John Ashcroft, US Attorney General, told Congress he would not release a 2002 policy memo on the degree of pain and suffering legally permitted during enemy interrogations.
2004 – U.S.-led troops backed by jet fighters and helicopters killed 21 Taliban militants, after rebels attacked a convoy in the mountains of southern Afghanistan.
2004 – Iraqi officials declared that the interim government has assumed full control of the country’s oil industry.
2004 – In Saudi Arabia an American citizen was shot and killed.
2004 – The UN voted 15-0 to accept a US and British resolution to end the formal co-occupation of Iraq on June 30.