ST. PATRICK’S DAY
Irish toast: “May the enemies of Ireland never eat bread nor drink whisky, but be tormented with itching without benefit of scratching.” — Traditional St. Patrick’s Day toast.
1756 – St. Patrick’s Day was 1st celebrated in NYC at Crown & Thistle Tavern.
1762 – In New York City, the first parade honoring the Catholic feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is held by Irish soldiers serving in the British army. Saint Patrick, who was born in the late 4th century, was one of the most successful Christian missionaries in history. Born in Britain to a Christian family of Roman citizenship, he was taken prisoner at the age of 16 by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland, and he spent six years in captivity before escaping back to Britain. Believing he had been called by God to Christianize Ireland, he joined the Catholic Church and studied for 15 years before being consecrated as the church’s second missionary to Ireland. Patrick began his mission to Ireland in 432, and by his death in 460, the island was almost entirely Christian. Early Irish settlers to the American colonies, many of whom were indentured servants, brought the Irish tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s feast day to America. The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread. Today, across the United States, millions of Americans of Irish ancestry celebrate their cultural identity and history by enjoying St. Patrick’s Day parades and engaging in general revelry.
1766 – Britain repeals the Stamp Act but passes the Declaratory Act, which asserts Great Britain’s right to pass any laws governing the American colonies.
1775 – The Transylvania Purchase, the largest private or corporate real estate transaction in United States history between the Translyvania Company, led by Richard Henderson of North Carolina, and the Cherokee Indians for over 20 million acres of land-all the lands of the Cumberland River watershed and extending to the Kentucky River-for 2000 pounds sterling and goods worth 8000 pounds. Twelve-hundred Indians reputedly spent weeks in counsel at Sycamore Shoals prior to the signing of the deed; Chief Dragging Canoe was firmly against deeding land to the whites, but the other chiefs ignored his warnings and signed the deeds amidst great ceremony and celebration.
1776 – During the American War for Independence, British forces are forced to evacuate Boston following Patriot General George Washington’s successful placement of fortifications and cannons on Dorchester Heights, which overlooks the city from the south. During the evening of March 4, Patriot General John Thomas, under orders from Washington, secretly led a force of 800 soldiers and 1,200 workers to Dorchester Heights and began fortifying the area. To cover the sound of the construction, Patriot cannons, besieging Boston from another location, began a noisy bombardment of the outskirts of the city. By the morning, more than a dozen cannons from Fort Ticonderoga had been brought within the Dorchester Heights fortifications. British General Sir William Howe hoped to use British ships in Boston Harbor to destroy the Patriot position, but a storm set in, giving the Patriots ample time to complete the fortifications and set up their artillery. On March 17, 11,000 British troops and some 1,000 Royalists departed Boston by ship and sailed to the safety of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The bloodless liberation of Boston by the Patriots brought an end to a hated eight-year British occupation of the city, known for such infamous events as the “Boston Massacre.” For the victory, General Washington, commander of the Continental Army, was presented with the first medal ever awarded by the Continental Congress.
1780 – George Washington grants the Continental Army a holiday “as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence”.
1811 – The USS New Orleans becomes the first practical sidewheel steamboat in the US.
1828 – Patrick R. Cleburne, Confederate general is born. Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was born in Ovens, County Cork, Ireland. The second son of Dr. Joseph Cleburne, the only physician in the locale, Patrick grew up in comfortable, middle class surroundings and privilege. His mother died when he was eighteen months old, and by the time the boy reached age fifteen, his father had also died. He pursued the family tradition of studying medicine, but failed the entrance exam to Trinity College in February 1846. Pride and his sense of honor led him to enlist in the 41st Regiment of Foot of the British Army to escape his failure. Three and one half years later, he bought his discharge and came to America with two brothers and an older sister. He settled in Helena, Arkansas, in 1850, first as a druggist until he became a naturalized citizen. In 1856 he began the practice of law, and was senior partner with Cleburne, Scaife and Mangum by 1860. Cleburne joined the Yell Rifles of Phillips as a private, and was soon elected Captain of the company. From this position he rose swiftly in rank, through the early months of the war and became Colonel of the 1st Arkansas. When Gen. William J. Hardee was put in command of Confederate troops in Arkansas, he quickly recognized the gem he had in an officer, and secured Cleburne’s promotion to Brigadier General on March 4, 1862. Shiloh, the Kentucky Campaign and Murfreesboro were ahead for Patrick Cleburne. He was severely wounded in the mouth at Richmond, Ky. on August 30. Returning to duty in time to participate in the Battle of Perryville on October 8, he proved his capability in a charge on the field that led to Confederate victory. After the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee December 31and January 1, 1863, Cleburne was promoted to Major General. Through the campaigns of 1863, Cleburne became more outspoken along with his superior and mentor William J. Hardee on the incompetence of Gen. Braxton Bragg. After the Battle of Chickamauga and the Chattanooga Campaign, Cleburne achieved lasting military fame for his defense of Tunnel Hill on Missionary Ridge in Tennessee and at the Battle of Ringgold Gap in North Georgia. His brilliant tactical command in the use of his small force, and strategic utilization of terrain remain among the most compelling in military history to study. Always pensive and observant, he realized the deplorable state of morale in the army, and the straitened conditions of the Confederacy in general were working against the goal of independence. He had a solution which he earnestly believed would turn the tide in favor of the South, both militarily and politically, and on January 3, 1864, he met with Gen. Joseph Johnston and other high command personalities in Dalton, Georgia to read his proposal on emancipating the slaves and enlisting them in the Confederate army. His concept was shocking to some, endorsed by others, but ultimately rejected by President Jefferson Davis at the urging of his military advisor in Richmond, Braxton Bragg. Patrick Cleburne accepted his superiors’ suggestions to suppress his proposal on enlisting slaves, and accompanied his friend William J. Hardee as best man to Hardee’s wedding in Demopolis, Alabama. Cleburne met Susan Tarleton, the 24-year-old daughter of a Mobile, Alabama planter, and was love struck. He proposed to her before his ten-day furlough was up, and she agreed to become engaged to him. The spring of 1864 began military operations, which culminated in the Atlanta Campaign. Patrick Cleburne fought valiantly at every battle, from the opening shots at Rocky Face Gap until the end at Jonesboro in August. He received no other promotions, though vacancies occurred for corps commander. He was distressed when Hood replaced Joe Johnston as commander-in-chief of the Army of Tennessee, and marched his division north with the army in the Tennessee Campaign. In a desperate assault on Union breastworks at Franklin, Tennessee on November 30, 1864, Patrick Cleburne was killed in action beside his men. He was buried at St. John’s Church near Mount Pleasant, Tennessee. In April 1870, his remains were disinterred and brought back to Helena, Arkansas, where he was reburied in an impressive ceremony in Evergreen Confederate Cemetery. His fiancée Susan Tarleton, married a classmate of her brother’s, but died of a swelling of the brain on June 30, 1868.
1837 – Stephen Grover Cleveland was born in Caldwell, N.J. He was the 22nd (1885-1889) and 24th (1893-1897) president of the United States, the only President elected for two nonconsecutive terms.
1862 – First elements of the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan departed Alexandria, Vir¬ginia, for movement by water to Fort Monroe and the Navy- supported Peninsular Campaign aimed at capturing Richmond. His strategy was based on the mobility, flexibility, and massed gunfire support afforded by the Union Navy’s control of the Chesapeake; indeed, he was to be saved from annihilation by heavy naval guns.
1863 – USRC Agassiz defended Fort Anderson at New Bern, North Carolina, from a Confederate attack.
1863 – Union cavalry attack Confederate cavalry at Kelly’s Ford, Virginia. Although the Yankees were pushed back and failed to take any ground, the engagement proved that the Federal troopers could hold their own against their Rebel counterparts. In the war’s first two years, Union cavalry fared poorly in combat. This was especially true in the eastern theater, where Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart boasted an outstanding force comprised of excellent horsemen. On several occasions, Stuart embarrassed the Union cavalry with his daring exploits. During the Peninsular Campaign of 1862, Stuart rode around the entire 100,000-man Union army in four days. Later that year, he made a daring raid to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and returned unmolested to Virginia after inflicting significant damage and capturing tons of supplies. In February 1863, a raid by General Fitzhugh Lee (son of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee) left the Federals running in circles in search of the enemy force. Now, General Joseph Hooker assumed command of the Federal Army of the Potomac. He sought to bring an end to the Confederate raids by stopping Stuart’s cavalry. Hooker assigned General William Averell to attack the Rebel cavalry near Culpeper Court House. Averall assembled 3,000 men for the mission, but he left 900 behind to protect against a rumored Confederate presence near Catlett’s Station. Averell led the rest of his men towards Kelly’s Ford, a crossing of the Rappahannock River east of Culpeper Court House. Fitzhugh Lee learned of the advance and positioned his cavalry brigade, which was part of Stuart’s corps, to block the ford and dig rifle pits above the river. On the morning of March 17, Averell’s men reached Kelly’s Ford and were welcomed by fire from 60 Confederate sharpshooters. It took four attacks for Averell’s men to capture the rifle pits and by noon the entire force was across the Rappahannock. Now, Fitzhugh Lee arrived with 800 troopers and two pieces of artillery. As the Confederates approached, the cautious Averell ordered his men to form a defensive line, thus giving the initiative to the Confederates. Lee arrived and ordered his men to attack, but Yankee fire drove them back. He attacked again and was again repulsed. Averell had a chance to score a major rout with a counterattack, but he instead withdrew across the Rappahannock River. He later said that the arrival of Stuart on the battlefield signaled the possible approach of additional Confederate cavalry. Averell lost 78 men killed, wounded, and captured during the day’s fighting. The Confederates lost a total of 133 men. Among the Rebel dead was Major John Pelham, perhaps the best artillery officer in the Confederate army. He happened to be visiting Stuart when the battle began, and he rode forward to see the action. Pelham was mortally wounded by a shell splinter as he observed the Confederate attacks in the afternoon. Although Kelly’s Ford was a Union defeat, it signaled a new phase of the cavalry war in the east. The Yankees were closing the gap with the Confederate horsemen. In the next four months, the Union cavalry fought their Confederate counterparts to a standstill at Brandy Station, and then scored a major victory at the Battle of Gettysburg.
1865 – A naval expedition, led by Lieutenant Commander Thomas H. Eastman, consisting of the U.S.S Don, Stepping Stones, Heliotrope and Resolute, proceeded up the Rappahannock River and its tributary, Mattox Creek, to the vicinity of Montrose, Virginia, where it destroyed a supply base that had been supporting Confederate guerrillas on the peninsula between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers. Eastman led a landing force of 70 Marines and sailors up the right fork of Mattox Creek where he found and destroyed four boats. The landing party, led by Acting Ensign William H. Summers, that cleared the left fork encountered heavy musket fire but successfully destroyed three schooners. Houses in the vicinity were also searched and contraband destroyed. Acting Ensign John J. Brice, who led the 40 man search party,” found himself opposed by about 50 cavalry. He formed his men to receive their attack. While doing this, 8 or 10 cavalry came down on his left flank, which he drove off. The main portion, on seeing this, retired to the woods”
1876 – Gen. Crook destroyed Cheyenne and Ogallala-Sioux Indian camps.
1884 – John Joseph Montgomery made the first glider flight in Otay, Calif.
1886 – The Carrollton Massacre in Mississippi occurred and 20 African Americans were killed.
1898 – USS Holland, first practical submarine, launched.
1910 – The Camp Fire Girls organization was formed in Lake Sebago, Maine. It was formally presented to the public exactly two years later.
1918 – The 5th Marine Regiment was the first Marine unit to move into WW I front-line trenches.
1924 – Four Douglas army aircraft leave Los Angeles for an around the world flight.
1927 – The Teapot Dome and Elk hills naval oil reserve, which had featured in the scandals of the Harding Administration, are returned to the jurisdiction of the Navy Department. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Mammoth Company has received them under fraudulent contracts which renders ownership invalid.
1930 – James Benson Irwin, Col. USAF, astronaut (Apollo 15), was born in Pittsburgh, Penn.
1930 – John North Willys of the Willys-Overland Corporation became the first U. S. ambassador to Poland. Willys had rescued the ailing Overland firm from its woeful production of 465 cars in 1908. By 1916, Willys-Overland produced over 140,000 cars per year. Willys subsequently left the day-to-day operations of the company, moving his personal offices to New York in order to pursue work related to World War I. During his absence, mismanagement nearly buried the company he had worked so hard to build up. Massive strikes, bloated inventories, and other troubles had cost Willys-Overland dearly. By 1920, the company was $46 million in debt. The briefly retired Walter Chrysler was called on to rework the company’s daily operations, and in no time at all, he had cut the debt by nearly two-thirds to $18 million. Chrysler claimed, however, that without the release of a new model of automobile, the debt would decrease no further. Willys, who remained president of Willys-Overland, disagreed. He maintained that through the improvement of the existing models, the company could regain its original profit margins. Chrysler left. Continuing to pursue his political interests, Willys became the U.S. ambassador to Poland on this day in 1930. Eight years later Poland would be absorbed into the Third Reich. Three years after that, in 1941, Willys-Overland began mass production of the Willys Jeep, the “General Purpose” vehicle of the U.S. Army. In 1944, Willys’ political and manufacturing legacies merged symbolically as Willys Jeeps carried U.S. troops across liberated Poland.
1941 – CGC Cayuga left Boston with the South Greenland Survey Expedition on board to locate airfields, seaplane bases, radio and meteorological stations, and aids to navigation in Greenland. This was the beginning of the Coast Guard’s predominate role in Greenland during World War II.
1942 – Gen. Douglas MacArthur arrived in Australia to become supreme commander of Allied forces in the southwest Pacific theater during World War II.
1942 – United States Naval Forces Europe established to plan joint operations with British.
1944 – The US Eighth Air Force bombed Vienna.
1944 – The battle for Cassino continues. Indian and New Zealander troops of US 5th Army mount attacks on the southwest of the town and along Snake’s Head Ridge to Point 593. German forces mount attacks against Castle Hill and Hangman’s Hill.
1944 – On Manus Island, US forces reach their primary objective and take Lorengau airfield.
1945 – The Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine River, at Remagen, collapses under the combined strain of bomb damage and heavy use but US Army engineers have built several other bridges nearby and the advance over the Rhine continues. To the south, the US 3rd Army offensive over the Moselle River takes Koblenz and Boppard on the left flank of the drive while farther forward, the Nahe River has been crossed.
1947 – First flight of the B-45 Tornado strategic bomber. The North American B-45 Tornado was the United States Air Force’s first operational jet bomber, and the first multi-jet engined bomber in the world to be refuelled in midair. The B-45 was an important part of the United States’s nuclear deterrent for several years in the early 1950s, but was rapidly succeeded by the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. B-45s and RB-45s served in the United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command from 1950 until 1959. It was also the first jet bomber of the NATO Alliance, which was formed in 1949.
1951 – The Chinese threw two fresh armies against the U.N. forces in an attempt to delay their advance.
1951 – The newly trained ROK 8th Division replaced the U.S. 1st Marine Division in the Punchbowl area. The 1st Marine Division was moved to the western corridor where it relieved the ROK 1st Division on March 25.
1958 – Navy Vanguard rocket launches 3.25 pound sphere from Cape Canaveral. This first US artificial satellite was designed to measure the Earth’s shape.
1959 – The USS Skate became the 1st submarine to surface at the North Pole. The ships crew held a funeral service and scattered the ashes of explorer Hubert Wilkins (d.1958), who had attempted the feat in 1931.
1960 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the National Security Council directive on the anti-Cuban covert action program that will ultimately lead to the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
1961 – The U.S. increased military aid and technicians to Laos.
1962 – The Soviet Union asked the U.S. to pull out of South Vietnam.
1962 – After requesting the evacuation of a seriously injured crewman, the Russian merchant vessel Dbitelny transferred the patient to the Coast Guard LORAN station on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea. Meanwhile, a Coast Guard aircraft flew a US Navy doctor and a hospital corpsman there to perform an emergency operation. Afterwards, the injured man was flown to Elmendorf Air Force Base, where he was admitted to the US Air Force hospital.
1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson presides over a session of the National Security Council during which Secretary of Defense McNamara and Gen. Maxwell Taylor present a full review of the situation in Vietnam. During the meeting, various secret decisions were made, including the approval of covert intelligence-gathering operations in North Vietnam; contingency plans to launch retaliatory U.S. Air Force strikes against North Vietnamese military installations and against guerrilla sanctuaries inside the Laotian and Cambodian borders; and a long-range “program of graduated overt military pressure” against North Vietnam. President Johnson directed that planning for the bombing raids “proceed energetically.” A statement issued to the public afterwards stated that the United States would increase military and economic aid to support South Vietnamese President Nguyen Khanh’s new plan for fighting the Viet Cong. Khanh’s intention was to mobilize all able-bodied South Vietnamese males, raise the pay and status of paramilitary forces, and provide more equipment for the South Vietnamese armed forces.
1966 – A U.S. midget submarine located a missing hydrogen bomb which had fallen from an American bomber into the Mediterranean off Spain.
1967 – The first woman Marine to report to Vietnam for duty, Master Sergeant Barbara J. Dulinsky, began her 18-hour flight to Bien Hoa, 30 miles north of Saigon. MSgt Dulinsky and the other officer and enlisted Women Marines that followed were assigned to the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) based in Saigon. Most worked with the Marine Corps Personnel Section providing administrative support to Marines assigned as far north as the DMZ, but two Lieutenant Colonels, Ruth Reinholz and Ruth O’Holleran, served as historians with the Military History Branch, Secretary Joint Staff, MACV.
1970 – After an investigation, the U.S. Army accuses 14 officers of suppressing information related to an incident at My Lai in March 1968. Soldiers from a company had massacred Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, at My Lai 4, a cluster of hamlets in Quang Ngai Province, on March 16, 1968. The company had been conducting a search-and-destroy mission looking for the 48th Viet Cong (VC) Local Force Battalion. The unit entered My Lai, but found only women, children, and old men. Frustrated by unanswered losses due to snipers and mines, the soldiers took out their anger on the villagers, indiscriminately shooting people as they ran from their huts, and systematically rounding up and executing the survivors. Reportedly, the killing was only stopped when Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson landed his helicopter between the Americans and the fleeing South Vietnamese, confronting the soldiers and blocking them from further action against the villagers. The incident was subsequently covered up, but eventually came to light a year later. The Army commissioned a board of inquiry, headed by Lieutenant General Peers. After investigating, Peers reported that U.S. soldiers committed individual and group acts of murder, rape, sodomy, maiming and assault that took the lives of a large number of civilians–he concluded that a “tragedy of major proportions” occurred at My Lai. The Peers report said that each successive level of command received a more watered-down account of what had actually occurred; the higher the report went, the lower the estimate of civilians allegedly killed by Americans. Peers found that at least 30 persons knew of the atrocity, but only 14 were charged with crimes. All eventually had their charges dismissed or were acquitted by courts-martial except Lt. William Calley, the platoon leader of the unit involved. He was found guilty of personally murdering 22 civilians and sentenced to life imprisonment, but his sentence was reduced to 20 years by the Court of Military Appeals and further reduced later to 10 years by the Secretary of the Army. Proclaimed by much of the public as a “scapegoat,” Calley was paroled in 1974 after having served about a third of his 10-year sentence.
1970 – The United States cast its first veto in the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. killed a resolution that would have condemned Britain for failure to use force to overthrow the white-ruled government of Rhodesia.
1973 – First POWs were released from the “Hanoi Hilton” in Hanoi, North Vietnam.
1980 – In Iran, militants refuse to turn hostages over to government until parliament convenes in May.
1982 – Navy Secretary John Lehman testified before Congress on behalf of the Coast Guard. He characterized the relationship between the Navy and the Coast Guard as being “close and warm.” He also praised the new NAVGARD Board, created in November 1980, to formalize the relationship between the two services.
1988 – Planeloads of U.S. soldiers arrived at Palmerola Air Base in Honduras in a show of strength ordered by President Reagan.
1991 – Allied commanders from the Gulf War held a second round of cease-fire talks with Iraqi officers; the Iraqis were told they could not move their warplanes inside Iraq for any reason.
1993 – A Marine is WIA during a shoot-out with gunmen in the Bakara Market. 1 Somali killed.
2002 – A patrol observed three vehicles about 45 miles southwest of Gardez. After watching them for a time, commanders called in helicopters to stop the convoy. When their warning shots were met with return fire, the aircraft destroyed the vehicles. In the firefight, 16 people in the convoy were killed, one wounded and one detained. Numerous weapons, ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades were found in the vehicles. A fourth car, just a bit separated from the other three, was stopped, found to contain a family and let go.
2002 – Israeli and Palestinian officials met to prepare for a cease-fire following meetings with US envoy Adm. Zinni. A Palestinian gunman opened fire in Kfar Saba. He killed an Israeli high school student (18) and was shot dead. A suicide bomber detonated himself in Jerusalem.
2003 – Pres. Bush gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to go into exile or face military onslaught. Iraq rejected Bush’s ultimatum, saying that a U.S. attack to force Saddam from power would be “a grave mistake.”
2003 – In Washington, D.C., tobacco farmer Dwight Ware Watson, claiming to be carrying bombs, drove a tractor and trailer into a pond on the National Mall; the threat disrupted traffic for two days until Watson surrendered; there were no bombs.
2003 – Iraq was scheduled to take over as chairman of the UN disarmament organization, but declined the position.
2003 – The US orders its non-essential diplomats and the families of all embassy staff in Israel, Syria and Kuwait to leave. US Secretary of State Colin Powell urges arms inspectors and journalists to leave Baghdad in light of possible military action and because they could be taken hostage.
2003 – Homeland Security Department commences Operation Liberty Shield, an increase in protective measures to defend the homeland coinciding with the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
2005 – George F. Kennan (101), former US diplomat and historian, died. In 1947 Kennan wrote an article that would guide US postwar policy (containment) for decades. He proposed in the piece signed “X” that the US stop the global spread of Communism through ideology and politics, not war. His books included “Russia Leaves the War” (1956).
2005 – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Munro (WHEC 724), working with HMS Invincible and HMS Nottingham in the Gulf of Aden, intercepted a hijacked vessel at around noon. The interception was ordered after Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (COMUSNAVCENT) received telephone reports from the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, concerning the hi-jacking of the Thai-flagged fishing boat Sirichai Nava 12 by three Somalis on the evening of 16 March, as well as a fax indicating that the hi-jackers demanded U.S. $800,000 in ransom for the vessel’s crew. Commander, Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 tasked the Invincible, destroyer Nottingham and Munro to investigate the situation. A Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) team from Munro boarded Sirichai Nava, while a boarding team from Nottingham went onto a second fishing vessel, Ekhwat Patana, which was with the Thai vessel. Munro’s boarding team detained the Somalis without incident. One of the crew members of the Thai vessel had a minor flesh wound, which was treated by the Munro boarding team. The Coast Guardsmen also discovered four automatic weapons in the pilothouse, expended ammunition shells on the deck of the vessel, as well as ammunition on the detained suspects. The three suspects were transferred to Munro. The Munro was assigned to CTF 150, which is the Coalition maritime task force conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the vicinity of the Horn of Africa, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, North Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.
2011 – NASA’s MESSENGER space probe becomes the first space craft ever to enter into orbit around Mercury.
2014 – United States Navy SEALs take over a disavowed oil tanker in international waters previously seized by Libyan rebels
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