This Day in U.S. Military History…… March 14

March 14
1629 – A Royal charter was granted to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1644 – England granted a patent for Providence Plantations (Rhode Island).
1743 – The first recorded town meeting in America was held at Faneuil Hall in Boston.
1776 – The Continental Congress recommends a policy of disarming all loyalist American colonists.
1780 – The Spanish governor of Louisiana, Galvez, captures the port of Mobile.
1794 – Eli Whitney received a patent for his cotton gin, an invention that revolutionized America’s cotton industry. He paid substantial royalties to Catherine T. Greene and this makes his claim to the invention suspect.
1812 – The US issues the first War Bonds. By the end of 1811, the United States government had tired of seeing the nation’s merchant ships suffer at the hands of the British and French. Having already tried to retaliate through fiscal measures, namely an embargo that only served to hurt U.S. businesses, the government was on the verge of committing its military to what would be later known as the War of 1812. However, scrounging up resources for the war proved to be an issue, leading U.S. President James Madison to call on Congress to provide for means for bolstering the nation’s defenses. On March 14, 1812, legislators heeded Madison’s plea and approved the issue of the very first war bond, worth some eleven million dollars. Over the next three years of the war, Congress would authorize six more war bonds, and also hike tariffs on imports, all in the name of another battle against Great Britain.
1862 – Battle of New Bern, NC. Union forces conquered New Bern, a strategic port and rail hub by joint amphibious attack under Commander Rowan and Brigadier General Burnside. Described by Rowan as “an immense depot of army fixtures and manufactures, of shot and shell Com¬mander Rowan, with 13 war vessels and transports carrying 12,000 troops, departed his anchorage at Hatteras Inlet on 12 March, arriving in sight of New Bern that evening. Landing the troops, including Marines, the following day under the protecting guns of his vessels, Rowan continued close support of the Army advance throughout the day. The American flag was raised over Forts Dixie, Ellis, Thompson, and Lane on 14 Match, the formidable” obstructions in the river including torpedoes were passed by the gunboats, and troops were transported across Trent River to occupy the city. In addition to convoy, close gunfire support, and transport operations, the Navy captured two steamers, stores, munitions, and cotton, and supplied a how¬itzer battery ashore under Lieutenant Roderick S. McCook, USN. Wherever water reached, combined operations struck heavy blows that were costly to the Confederacy. The capture of New Bern continued Burnside’s success along the Carolina coast. Five weeks earlier, he led an amphibious force against Roanoke Island between Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. The Yankees captured the island on February 8; now Burnside moved against New Bern on the mainland. On March 13, he landed 12,000 troops along the Neuse River, 15 miles south of New Bern. Accompanied by 13 gunboats, Burnside’s army marched up river to face 4,000 Confederate troops commanded by General Lawrence O. Branch. The city was protected by extensive defenses, but Branch did not have enough soldiers to properly staff them. He concentrated his men along the inner works a few miles downriver from New Bern. Early on the morning of March 14, Burnside’s men attacked in a heavy fog-two of the three Yankee brigades crashed into the fortifications. General Jesse Reno’s brigade struck the weakest part of the line, where an inexperienced Rebel militia unit tried to hold off the Federals. Burnside’s third brigade joined Reno and the Confederate line collapsed. That afternoon, Union gunboats steamed into New Bern. Union casualties for the battle were 90 killed and 380 wounded, while the Confederates suffered 64 killed, 101 wounded, and 413 captured. The conflict produced a Confederate hero, Colonel Zebulon Vance, who rescued his regiment by using small boats to bypass a bridge set afire by his comrades. Vance was elected governor of the state later that year.
1863 – Confederate troops launched a surprise night attack against Fort Anderson on the Neuse River, North Carolina. Union gunboats U.S.S. Hunchback, Hetzel, Ceres, and Shawsheen, supported by a revenue cutter and an armed schooner, forced the Confederates to break off their heavy assault and withdraw. Colonel Jonathan S. Belknap, USA, wrote Commander Henry K. Davenport: “Your well-directed fire drove the enemy from the field; covered the landing of the Eighty-fifth New York, sent to the relief of the garrison, and the repulse of the rebel army was complete. Allow me, commodore, in the name of the officers and men of my command, to express my admiration of the promptitude and skill displayed by your command on that occasion The Army is proud of the Navy.”
1863 – Rear Admiral Farragut with his squadron of seven ships attacked the strong Confederate works at Port Hudson, attempting to effect passage. With typical thoroughness, the Admiral had inspected his squadron the day before” to see that all arrangements had been made for battle,” and consulted with Major General Banks. His general order for the passage had previously been written and distributed to each commanding officer. Just before the attack, Farragut held a conference with the commanders on board the flagship and then received word from General Banks that he was in position and ready to begin an attack ashore in support of the passage. The mortars had begun to fire. Shortly after 10 p.m., the fleet was underway, the heavier hips, Hartford, Richmond, and Monongahela to the inboard or fort side of the smaller Albatross, Genesee, and Kineo. Mississippi brought up the rear. Moving up the river ”in good style,” Hartford, with Albatross lashed alongside, weathered the hail of shot from the batteries. Major General Franklin Gardner, commanding at Port Hudson, noted: She returned our fire boldly.” Passing the lower batteries, the current nearly swung the flagship around and grounded her, “but,” Farragut reported, “backing the Albatross, and going ahead strong on this ship, we at length headed her up the river.” Though able to bring only two guns to bear on the upper batteries, Farragut successfully passed those works. Following the flagship closely, Richmond took a hit in her steam plant, disabling her. “The turning point [in the river] was gained,” Commander Alden reported, “but I soon found, even with the aid of the Genesee, which vessel was lashed alongside, that we could make no headway against the strong current of the river, and suffering much from a galling cross fire of the enemy’s batteries, I was compelled though most reluctantly, to turn back, and by the aid of the Genesee soon anchored out of the range of their guns.” Next in line, Monongahela ran hard aground under Port Hudson’s lower batteries where she remained for nearly half an hour, taking severe punishment. At least eight shots passed entirely through the ship. The bridge was shot from underneath Captain James P. McKinstry, injuring him and killing three others. With Kineo’s aid, Monongahela was floated and attempted to resume her course upriver. “We were nearly by the principal battery,” Lieutenant Nathaniel W. Thomas, the executive officer wrote, ”when the crank pin of the forward engine was reported heated, and the engine stopped, the chief engineer reporting that he was unable to go ahead.” The ship became unmanageable and drifted downstream, where she anchored out of range of the Confederate guns. Meanwhile, on board U.S.S. Mississippi, Captain Melancton Smith saw Richmond coming downstream but, because of the heavy smoke of the pitched battle, was unable to sight Monongahela. Thinking she had steamed ahead to close the gap caused by Richmond’s leaving the line ahead formation, he ordered his ship “go ahead fast” to close the supposed gap In doing so, Mississippi ran aground and despite every effort could not be brought off. After being fired in four places, she was abandoned. At 3 a.m., Mississippi was seen floating in flames slowly down river; 22 hours later, she blew up, ”producing an awful concussion which was felt for miles around.” Lieutenant George Dewey, destined to become hero of Manila Bay in 1898, was First Lieutenant of Mississippi. Thus ended one of the war’s fiercest engagements; only Hartford and Albatross had run the gauntlet.
1903 – The Senate ratified the Hay-Herran Treaty which guaranteed the U.S. the right to build a canal at Panama. It was signed by U.S. Secretary of State John Hay and Colombian foreign minister Tomás Herrán on Jan. 22, 1903. The treaty stipulated that the New Panama Canal Company, which held an option on the canal route, might sell its properties to the United States; that Colombia lease a strip of land across the Isthmus of Panama to the United States for construction of a canal; and that the United States pay Colombia $10 million and, after nine years, an annuity of $250,000. Although it did not give the United States complete governmental control over the proposed canal zone, the treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate. The Colombian congress delayed ratification, hoping to increase the price offered by the United States; finally, it rejected the treaty because of dissatisfaction with the financial terms and fear of “Yankee imperialism” and loss of national sovereignty.
1905 – The first Marine military attaché was appointed to Legation at Peking, China.
1923 – President Harding became the first chief executive to file an income tax report.
1928 – Frank Borman, astronaut (Gem 7, Ap 8), CEO (Eastern Airline), was born in Gary, Ind.
1934 – Eugene Cernan, American Astronaut who was the last man on the moon, was born.
1939 – As a result of appeasement at the Munich peace conference, the Republic of Czechoslovakia was dissolved and the Sudetenland ceded to Germany, opening the way for complete Nazi occupation.
1942 – The 172-foot tender CGC Acacia was en route from Curacao, Netherlands West Indies to Antigua, British West Indies, when she was sunk by shellfire from the German submarine U-161. The entire crew of Acacia was rescued. She was the only Coast Guard buoy tender sunk by enemy action during the war.
1942 – Large numbers of American troops arrive in Austrailia.
1945 – The US 12th Corps (part of US 3rd Army) launches attacks southeast over the Moselle River, near Koblenz, and US 20th Corps expands its attacks from between Trier and Saarburg. To the north, US 1st Army continues to expand the Remagen bridgehead despite German counterattacks.
1946 – For the first time, U.S. Coast Guard aircraft supplemented the work of the Coast Guard patrol vessels of the International Ice Patrol, scouting for ice and determining the limits of the ice fields from the air.
1947 – The U.S. signed a 99-year lease on naval bases in the Philippines.
1947 – Ensign John W. Lee becomes first African American officer commissioned in regular Navy. He was assigned to USS Kearsage.
1950 – The The Federal Bureau of Investigation institutes the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list in an effort to publicize particularly dangerous fugitives. The creation of the program arose out of wire service news story in 1949 about the “toughest guys” the FBI wanted to capture. The story drew so much public attention that the “Ten Most Wanted” list was given the okay by J. Edgar Hoover the following year. Since then, over 130 fugitives have been captured after appearing on the list. As of May 1998, 454 fugitives had appeared on the Ten Most Wanted List. The Criminal Investigative Division (CID) of the FBI asks all fifty-six field offices to submit candidates for inclusion on the list. The CID in association with the Office of Public and Congressional Affairs then proposes finalists for approval of by the FBI’s Deputy Director. The criteria for selection is simple, the criminal must have a lengthy record and current pending charges that make him or her particularly dangerous. And the the FBI must believe that the publicity attendant to placement on the list will assist in the apprehension of the fugitive. Generally, the only way to get off the list is to die or to be captured. There have only been a handful of cases where a fugitive has been removed from the list because they no longer were a particularly dangerous menace to society. Only seven women have appeared on the Ten Most Wanted list. Ruth Eisemann-Schier was the first in 1968. The FBI also works closely with the Fox television show America’s Most Wanted to further publicize the effort to capture dangerous felons.
1951 – As U.N forces planned to retake Seoul from the enemy, patrols from both the U.S. Army’s 3rd Division and ROK 1st Division crossed the Han River to asses the situation.
1964 – Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who killed Lee Harvey Oswald–the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy–is found guilty of the “murder with malice” of Oswald and sentenced to die in the electric chair. It was the first courtroom verdict to be televised in U.S. history. On November 24, 1963, two days after Kennedy’s assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was brought to the basement of the Dallas police headquarters on his way to a more secure county jail. A crowd of police and press with live television cameras rolling gathered to witness his departure. As Oswald came into the room, Jack Ruby emerged from the crowd and fatally wounded him with a single shot from a concealed .38 revolver. Ruby, who was immediately detained, claimed he was distraught over the president’s assassination. Some called him a hero, but he was nonetheless charged with first-degree murder. Jack Ruby, originally known as Jacob Rubenstein, operated strip joints and dance halls in Dallas and had minor connections to organized crime. He also had a relationship with a number of Dallas policemen, which amounted to various favors in exchange for leniency in their monitoring of his establishments. He features prominently in Kennedy-assassination theories, and many believe he killed Oswald to keep him from revealing a larger conspiracy. In his trial, Ruby denied the allegation and pleaded innocent on the grounds that his great grief over Kennedy’s murder had caused him to suffer “psychomotor epilepsy” and shoot Oswald unconsciously. The jury found him guilty and sentenced him to die. In October 1966, the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the decision on the grounds of improper admission of testimony and the fact that Ruby could not have received a fair trial in Dallas at the time. In January 1967, while awaiting a new trial to be held in Wichita Falls, Ruby died of lung cancer in a Dallas hospital. The official Warren Commission report of 1964 concluded that neither Oswald nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy, either domestic or international, to assassinate President Kennedy. Despite its seemingly firm conclusions, the report failed to silence conspiracy theories surrounding the event, and in 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in a preliminary report that Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy” that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime. The committee’s findings, as with those of the Warren Commission, continue to be widely disputed.
1965 – Twenty-four South Vietnamese Air Force planes, led by Vice-Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky and supported by U.S. jets, bomb the barracks and depots on Con Co (“Tiger”) Island, 20 miles off the coast of North Vietnam. The next day, 100 U.S. Air Force jets and carrier-based bombers struck the ammunition depot at Phu Qui, 100 miles south of Hanoi. This was the second set of raids in Operation Rolling Thunder and the first in which U.S. planes used napalm. Operation Rolling Thunder was a result of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s decision in February to undertake the sustained bombing of North Vietnam that he and his advisers had been contemplating for a year. The operation was designed to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the southern part of North Vietnam and slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam. In July 1966, Rolling Thunder was expanded to include the bombing of North Vietnamese ammunition dumps and oil storage facilities, and in the spring of 1967, it was further expanded to include power plants, factories, and airfields in the Hanoi-Haiphong area. The White House closely controlled operation Rolling Thunder and President Johnson sometimes personally selected the targets. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam. A total of nearly 900 U.S. aircraft were lost during Operation Rolling Thunder. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson, under increasing domestic political pressure, halted it on October 31, 1968.
1966 – Establishment of River Squadron Five in Vietnam.
1967 – The body of President Kennedy was moved from a temporary grave to a permanent memorial site at Arlington National Cemetery.
1968 – CBS TV suspended Radio Free Europe free advertising because RFE didn’t make it clear it was sponsored by the CIA.
1969 – At a news conference, President Richard Nixon says there is no prospect for a U.S. troop reduction in the foreseeable future because of the ongoing enemy offensive. Nixon stated that the prospects for withdrawal would hinge on the level of enemy activity, progress in the Paris peace talks, and the ability of the South Vietnamese to defend themselves. Despite these public comments, Nixon and his advisers were secretly discussing U.S. troop withdrawals. On June 8, at a conference on Midway Island with South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu, Nixon formally announced a new policy that included intensified efforts to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces so that U.S. forces could be gradually withdrawn. This program became known as “Vietnamization.” The first U.S. troop withdrawals occurred in the fall of 1969 with the departure of the headquarters and a brigade from the 9th Infantry Division.
1983 – The Coast Guard retired its last HC-131A Samaritan.
1987 – President Reagan, in his Saturday radio address, said he should have listened to Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Defense Sec. Caspar Weinberger when they advised him not to sell arms to Iran.
1989 – In a policy shift, the Bush administration announced an indefinite ban on imports of semiautomatic assault rifles.
1991 – The emir of Kuwait (Sheik Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah) returned home after seven months in exile.
1992 – The Associated Press obtained the names of 22 of 24 of the worst offenders in the check overdraft scandal at the House bank; topping the list were former Rep. Tommy Robinson of Arkansas and Rep. Bob Mrazek of New York, both Democrats.
1995 – American astronaut Norman Thagard became the first American to enter space aboard a Russian rocket as he and two cosmonauts blasted off aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, headed for the Mir space station.
1996 – The US approved arms and equipment for Bosnia. It was the same day that the UN embargo on small arms for the region was lifted. In the following weeks M-16 rifles, machine guns, field phone systems, and military radio equipment arrived in Bosnia.1997 – In Albania chaos and anarchy spread and some 23 people were reported killed across the country. The US and Italy were airlifting citizens out of the country. Near the Macedonian border a $10 million cigarette plant was burned down.
1997 – Operation Gulf Shield begins. This operation is a counterpart to the counter narcotics operation Frontier Shield.
1999 – The Clinton administration conceded the Chinese had gained from technology allegedly stolen from a federal nuclear weapons lab but insisted the government responded decisively; Republicans demanded a comprehensive review of U.S. policy toward China.
2002 – A New Jersey federal grand jury indicted Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh for the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.
2002 – Yugoslav military forces arrested a US diplomat and Yugoslav general outside Belgrade with accusations of espionage. The diplomat was released after 15 hours. Former Gen. Perisic, deputy Prime minister, was released Mar 16.
2003 – Christopher Boyce, whose Cold War spying was immortalized on film in “The Falcon and the Snowman,” was released from a halfway house in San Francisco after about a quarter-century in prison.
2003 – The office of the chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix announces that it has received a report from Iraq containing details of the VX chemical agents it says it destroyed 12 years ago.
2003 – American defense officials say a long-range B1-B bomber aircraft has been used for the first time against Iraqi targets in the no-fly zone in southern Iraq.
2004 – In southeastern Afghanistan U.S.-led troops surprised eight enemy fighters in a cave complex, prompting a gunbattle, which left 3 militiamen killed and 5 others wounded.
2005 – The US government in Operation Community Shield announced the arrests in 7 cities of 103 members of MS-13, Mara Salvatrucha, a street gang rooted in Central America.

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