This Day in U.S. Military History…… March 12

12 March
1664 – The Duke of York obtains a grant that gives him authority over all lands between the Connecticut and Delaware Rivers. This land grant includes all Dutch holdings in North America.
1676 – Indians attack Plymouth, Massachusetts.
1690 – In the face of the French and Indian threat, the New Hampshire colony votes to reannex itself to Massachusetts.
1755 – The 1st steam engine in America was installed to pump water from a mine.
1773 – Following the example of Massachusetts, the Virginia House of Burgesses delegates an 11-member correspondence committee. The committee included Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and Richard Henry Lee and was to oversee communication with the other colonies in the common expression of their grievances with England.
1777 – Since George Washington has effectively cleared all but easternmost New Jersey of British forces, the Continental Congress returns to Philadelphia from Baltimore, where it reconvenes.
1783 – Major John Armstrong issues the second anonymous Newburgh Address, which suggests that Washington himself supports the claims of the discontented officers.
1808 – The Third Embargo Act is passed by Congress, reinforcing the earlier two Embargo Acts. By the end of 1808, contrary to President Jefferson’s expectations, the Embargo Acts will nearly destroy the US shipping industry, as well as impose severe economic hardships on the New England states, which depend on trade in large amounts of perishable goods and manufactured goods. The Embargo Acts also lead to the virtual demise of small New England ports such as Newburyport, MA and New Haven, CT. The Southern states are not as seriously affected because their staple exports; cotton, wheat, and tobacco, can be stored for long periods of time. Nor does the embargo achieve its ultimate goal of causing the British to cease their policy of harassing US commercial shipping.
1824 – Marines of the Boston Barracks quelled a Massachusetts State Prison riot. Inmates rioted and holed up in the mess hall with a guard as hostage, Marines from the Boston barracks came to help. Major RD Wainwright led 30 Marines into the mess hall to confront 283 armed and determined prisoners. Wainwright ordered his men to cock and level their muskets. “You must leave this hall,” he told the inmates. “I give you three minutes to decide. If at the end of that time a man remains, he will be shot dead. I speak no more.” In two and a half minutes, “the hall was cleared as if by magic.”
1860 – US Congress accepted the Pre-emption Bill. It provided free land in West for colonists.1862 – Landing party under Lieutenant Thomas H. Stevens of U.S.S. Ottawa occupied Jacksonville, Florida, without opposition.
1862 – Union troops occupy Winchester, Virginia, after its evacuation by the Confederates commanded by Stonewall Jackson. Winchester will change hands 54 times during the course of the war.
1863 – President Jefferson Davis delivered his State of the Confederacy address.
1863 – The Battle of Raymond, Miss., was fought.
1864 – One of the biggest military fiascos of the war begins as a combined Union force of infantry and riverboats begins moving up the Red River in Louisiana. The month-long campaign was poorly managed and achieved none of the objectives set forth by Union commanders. The campaign had several strategic goals. The Union hoped to capture everything along the Red River in Louisiana and continue into Texas. President Lincoln hoped to send a symbolic warning to France, which had set up a puppet government in Mexico and seemed to have designs on territorial expansion. Finally, the expedition could also capture cotton-producing regions, a product in short supply in the North. The plan called for Admiral David Dixon Porter to take a flotilla of 20 gunboats up the Red River while General Nathaniel Banks led 27,000 men along the western shore of the river. Porter’s squadron entered the river on March 12. Two days later, Fort Derussy fell to the Yankees and the ships moved upriver and captured Alexandria. So far, the expedition was going well, but Banks was moving too slowly. He arrived two weeks after Porter took Alexandria, and he continued to plod towards Shreveport. Banks traveled nearly 20 miles from the Red River, too far for the gunboats to offer any protection. On April 8, Banks’ command was attacked and routed by General Richard Taylor, son of former president Zachary Taylor. They fought again the next day, but this time the Yankees held off the Rebel pursuit. The intimidated Banks elected to retreat back down the river before reaching Shreveport. Porter’s ships followed, but the Red River was unusually low and the ships were stuck above some rapids near Alexandria. It appeared that the ships would have to be destroyed to keep them from falling into Confederate hands, but Lt. Colonel Joseph Bailey of Wisconsin, an engineer with a logging background, supervised several thousand soldiers in constructing a series of wing dams that raised the water level enough for the ships to pass. The expedition was deemed a failure–it drew Union strength away from other parts of the South and the group never reached Texas.
1865 – At the request of Brigadier General Schofield, Acting Master H. Walton Grinnell, leading a detachment of four sailors, succeeded in delivering important Army dispatches to General Sherman near Fayetteville. Grinnell and his men began their trip on the 4th in a dugout from Wilmington. About 12 miles up the Cape Fear River, after passing through the Confederate pickets undetected, the men left the boat and commenced a tedious and difficult march towards Fayetteville. Near Whiteville, Grinnell impressed horses and led a daring dash through the Confederate lines. Shortly thereafter, the group made contact with the rear scouts of Sherman’s forces, successfully completing what Grinnell termed “this rather novel naval scout.” Naval support, no matter what form it took, was essential to General Sherman’s movements.
1912 – Juliette Gordon Low organized the Girl Guides, the first Girl Scouts troop in America, at the 1848 Andrew Low House in Savannah, Ga. The US Congress chartered the Girl Scouts in 1950.
1912 – Capt. Albert Berry performed the 1st parachute jump from an airplane.
1917 – The US merchant ship Algonquin is sunk without warning. All American merchant ships are to be armed in war zones.
1918 – WW I Marines landed at Scapa Flow, Great Britain.
1922 – Jack Kerouac is born in Lowell, Massachusetts. Kerouac was the son of French-Canadian parents and learned English as a second language. In high school, Kerouac was a star football player and won a scholarship to Columbia University. In World War II, he served in the Navy but was expelled for severe personality problems that may have been symptoms of mental illness. He became a merchant seaman. In the late 1940s, he wandered the U.S. and Mexico and wrote his first novel, The Town and the City. It was not until 1957, when he published On the Road, an autobiographical tale of his wanderings, that he became famous as a seminal figure of the Beat Generation. His tale of a subculture of poets, folk singers, and eccentrics who smoked marijuana and rejected conformist society was written in just three weeks. The book is filled with other Beat figures, including Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Kerouac wrote five more books before his death in 1967 in St. Petersburg, Florida. However, none gained the mythic status of On the Road.
1933 – Eight days after his inauguration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his first “fireside chat,” or national radio address. The subject of the broadcast was the reopening of the banks, closed by presidential order the week before to stop a recent surge in mass withdrawal of U.S. savings. Journalist Robert Trout coined the phrase “fireside chat” to describe Roosevelt’s frequent radio broadcasts, invoking an image of the president sitting by a fire in a living room, speaking earnestly to the American people. Roosevelt’s down-to-earth broadcasts served as a great reassurance to the many Americans who felt alienated from the U.S. government during the hard times of the Great Depression. They also contributed to President Roosevelt’s tremendous popularity among ordinary Americans, leading to his record three reelections despite the often fervent opposition to his policies from the business community and other quarters.
1938 – German troops march into Austria to annex the German-speaking nation for the Third Reich. In early 1938, Austrian Nazis conspired for the second time in four years to seize the Austrian government by force and unite their nation with Nazi Germany. Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg, learning of the conspiracy, met with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in the hopes of reasserting his country’s independence but was instead bullied into naming several top Austrian Nazis to his cabinet. On March 9, Schuschnigg called a national vote to resolve the question of Anschluss, or “annexation,” once and for all. Before the plebiscite could take place, however, Schuschnigg gave in to pressure from Hitler and resigned on March 11. In his resignation address, under coercion from the Nazis, he pleaded with Austrian forces not to resist a German “advance” into the country. The next day, March 12, Hitler accompanied German troops into Austria, where enthusiastic crowds met them. Hitler appointed a new Nazi government, and on March 13 the Anschluss was proclaimed. Austria existed as a federal state of Germany until the end of World War II, when the Allied powers declared the Anschluss void and reestablished an independent Austria. Schuschnigg, who had been imprisoned soon after resigning, was released in 1945.
1941 – President Roosevelt presents an Appropriations Bill for Lend-Lease to Congress for $7,000,000,000.
1942 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt designates Admiral Ernest J. King to serve as the Chief of Naval Operations, as well as the Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet to which he was appointed on 30 December 1941.
1942 – On New Caledonia, American troops land to garrison the island. These forces include the first operational “Seabees.”
1944 – On Bougainville, Japanese attacks continue. US forces continue to hold.
1944 – A small American force lands on Hauwei Island. The Japanese garrison, led by Colonel Ezaki, resists.
1944 – Americans occupy Wotho Atoll. There is no Japanese garrison.
1945 – There is heavy fighting in the Remagen bridgehead where elements of the German 7th Army are counterattacking.
1947 – In a dramatic speech to a joint session of Congress, President Harry S. Truman asks for U.S. assistance for Greece and Turkey to forestall communist domination of the two nations. Historians have often cited Truman’s address, which came to be known as the Truman Doctrine, as the official declaration of the Cold War. In February 1947, the British government informed the United States that it could no longer furnish the economic and military assistance it had been providing to Greece and Turkey since the end of World War II. The Truman administration believed that both nations were threatened by communism and it jumped at the chance to take a tough stance against the Soviet Union. In Greece, leftist forces had been battling the Greek royal government since the end of World War II. In Turkey, the Soviets were demanding some manner of control over the Dardanelles, territory from which Turkey was able to dominate the strategic waterway from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. On March 12, 1947, Truman appeared before a joint session of Congress to make his case. The world, he declared, faced a choice in the years to come. Nations could adopt a way of life “based upon the will of the majority” and governments that provided “guarantees of individual liberty” or they could face a way of life “based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority.” This latter regime, he indicated, relied upon “terror and oppression.” “The foreign policy and the national security of this country,” he claimed, were involved in the situations confronting Greece and Turkey. Greece, he argued, was “threatened by the terrorist activities of several thousand armed men, led by communists.” It was incumbent upon the United States to support Greece so that it could “become a self-supporting and self-respecting democracy.” The “freedom-loving” people of Turkey also needed U.S. aid, which was “necessary for the maintenance of its national integrity.” The president declared that “it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” Truman requested $400 million in assistance for the two nations. Congress approved his request two months later. The Truman Doctrine was a de facto declaration of the Cold War. Truman’s address outlined the broad parameters of U.S. Cold War foreign policy: the Soviet Union was the center of all communist activity and movements throughout the world; communism could attack through outside invasion or internal subversion; and the United States needed to provide military and economic assistance to protect nations from communist aggression. Not everyone embraced Truman’s logic. Some realized that the insurgency in Greece was supported not by the Soviet Union, but by Yugoslavia’s Tito, who broke with the Soviet communists within a year. Additionally, the Soviets were not demanding control of the Dardanelles, but only assurances that this strategic waterway would not be used by Russia’s enemies-as the Nazis had used it during World War II. And whether U.S. assistance would result in democracy in Greece or Turkey was unclear. Indeed, both nations established repressive right-wing regimes in the years following the Truman Doctrine. Yet, the Truman Doctrine successfully convinced many that the United States was locked in a life-or-death struggle with the Soviet Union, and it set the guidelines for over 40 years of U.S.-Soviet relations.
1951 – Communist troops were driven out of Seoul.
1952 – Ten B-29s struck the Sinchang-ni choke point, ten miles east of Sunchon, with ninety-one tons of high explosives, rendering the point unpassable.
1955 – Effective this date, all foreign and domestic ships were required to give 24-hour advance notice to the local U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port before entering U.S. ports. This order was designed to improve the U .S. Coast Guard’s port security program without “material inconvenience” to shipping.
1956 – In first overseas deployment of Navy missile squadron, VA-83 left on USS Intrepid.
1959 – The House joined the Senate in approving the statehood of Hawaii. 1963 – US House granted former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill honorary U.S. citizenship.
1965 – The beginning of the US Navy’s Operation Market Time to interdict resupply of Communist forces in South Vietnam by river and coastal routes. The initiation of this campaign led to the Navy’s request for USCG vessels and crews to participate in riverine and coastal patrols during the Vietnam War.
1968 – A Miami-bound flight was commandeered to Cuba.1970 – US lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
1972 – The last remnants of the First Australian Task Force withdraw from Vietnam. The Australian government had first sent troops to Vietnam in 1964 with a small aviation detachment and an engineer civic action team. In May 1965, the Australians increased their commitment with the deployment of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (RAR). The formation of the First Australian Task Force in 1966 established an Australian base of operations near Ba Ria in Phuoc Tuy province. The task force included an additional infantry battalion, a medium tank squadron, and a helicopter squadron, as well as signal, engineer, and other support forces. By 1969, Australian forces in Vietnam totaled an estimated 6,600 personnel. The Australian contingent was part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. Johnson to enlist allies for the United States and South Vietnam. By securing support from other nations, Johnson hoped to build an international consensus behind his policies in Vietnam. The effort was also known as the “many flags” program. Australia began to withdraw its troops in 1970, following the lead of the United States as it drastically reduced its troop commitment to South Vietnam.
1980 – Greek TV airs films of American hostages in Tehran recently undergoing medical exams. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski tells National Press Club the U.S. has right to take alternative action if peaceful negotiations with Iran fail.
1982 – PLO chief Yasser Arafat appeared on “Nightline.”
1990 – Vice President Quayle met in Santiago, Chile, with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who promised to peacefully relinquish power to Violeta Chamorro, the U.S.-backed candidate who had won Nicaragua’s presidential election.
1992 – The U.N. Security Council stood firm in its demand that Iraq comply totally with Gulf War cease-fire resolutions, rebuffing an appeal for leniency from Saddam Hussein’s special envoy, deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz.
1998 – Serbian leaders proposed talks for autonomy in Kosovo, but residents dismissed the offer.
1999 – Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic formally joined NATO in a ceremony at Independence, Mo., where Pres. Truman announced in 1949 the formation of the Atlantic alliance for defense against the Soviet bloc.
2001 – A US Navy fighter dropped an errant 500-pound bomb in Kuwait that hit an observation post and killed five Americans and one New Zealander. Cmdr. David Zimmerman was later reprimanded and relieved of command.
2001 – Yugoslavia and Nato agreed to use their forces to squeeze Albanian rebels from separate flanks as the rebels signed a cease-fire.
2002 – The Bush administration announced a 5-color code system to alert Americans on the danger level posed by terrorists.
2003 – In Afghanistan an ambush on a US convoy prompted aircraft fire that killed 5 enemy fighters.
2003 – The US Air Force tests for the first time its Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) a 9,450kg munition which is the biggest conventional bomb in the US arsenal.
2003 – A Kurdish official says that US special forces have helped to repair runways in Iraqi Kurdistan.
2003 – A spokesman for the UN weapons inspectors tells reporters that Iraq has destroyed three more al-Samoud missiles.
2003 – Coalition aircraft enforcing a no-fly zone over southern Iraq bombed three underground military communication sites and a mobile radar for a surface-to-air missile system.
2003 – The British government puts forward six tests that the Iraqi president will have to pass to avoid war.
2007 – Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley resigns as the Surgeon General of the United States Army over the Walter Reed Medical Center scandal.
2011 – United States aid worker Alan Gross is sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban jail, ostensibly for working to undermine the Government of Cuba.

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