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

6 March
1521 – Ferdinand Magellan discovered Guam. The Chamorros, Guam’s indigenous people, first inhabited the island approximately 4,000 years ago. The island has a long history of European colonialism, beginning with Ferdinand Magellan’s Spanish expedition. The first colony was established in 1668 by Spain with the arrival of settlers including Padre San Vitores, a Catholic missionary. For more than two centuries Guam was an important stopover for the Spanish Manila Galleons that crossed the Pacific annually. The island was controlled by Spain until 1898, when it was surrendered to the United States during the Spanish–American War and later formally ceded as part of the Treaty of Paris.
1779 – The US Congress declared that only the federal government, and not individual states, had the power to determine the legality of captures on the high seas. This was the basis for the 1st test case of the US Constitution in 1808.
1820 – The Missouri Compromise, enacted by Congress, was signed by President James Monroe. This compromise provided for the admission of Missouri into the Union as a slave state, but prohibited slavery in the rest of the northern Louisiana Purchase territory. The compromise was invalidated in the 1856 Scott vs. Sanford case.
1822 – USS Enterprise captures four pirate ships in Gulf of Mexico.
1831 – Philip Henry Sheridan, Union Army General and hero of the Battle of Cedar Creek, was born.
1831 – Edgar Allan Poe failed out of West Point. He was discharged from West Point for “gross neglect of duty.” His parade uniform was supposedly incorrect.
1835 – Charles Ewing (d.1883), Brig General (Union volunteers), was born.
1836 – The Alamo fell after fighting for 13 days. Angered by a new Mexican constitution that removed much of their autonomy, Texans seized the Alamo in San Antonio in December 1835. Mexican president General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna marched into Texas to put down the rebellion. By late February, 1836, 182 Texans, led by Colonel William Travis, held the former mission complex against Santa Anna’s 6,000 troops. At 4 a.m. on March 6, after fighting for 13 days, Santa Anna’s troops charged. In the battle that followed, all the Alamo defenders were killed while the Mexicans suffered about 2,000 casualties. Santa Anna dismissed the Alamo conquest as “a small affair,” but the time bought by the Alamo defenders’ lives permitted General Sam Houston to forge an army that would win the Battle of San Jacinto and, ultimately, Texas’ independence. Mexican Lt. Col. Pena later wrote a memoir: “With Santa Anna in Texas: Diary of Jose Enrique de la Pena,” that described the capture and execution of Davy Crockett (49) and 6 other Alamo defenders. In 1975 a translation of the diary by Carmen Perry (d.1999) was published. Apparently, only one Texan combatant survived Jose María Guerrero, who persuaded his captors he had been forced to fight. Women, children, and a black slave, were spared.
1857 – The United States Supreme Court issues a decision in the Dred Scott case, one of the most important cases in the court’s history. In the ruling, the court affirmed the right of slave owners to take their slaves into the western territories, negating the doctrine of popular sovereignty and severely undermining the platform of the newly created Republican Party. At the heart of the case was the most important question of the 1850s: Should slavery be allowed in the West? As part of the Compromise of 1850, residents of newly created territories could decide the issue of slavery by vote, a process known as popular sovereignty. When popular sovereignty was applied in Kansas in 1854, however, violence erupted. Americans hoped that the Supreme Court could settle the issue that had eluded a Congressional solution. Dred Scott was a slave whose owner, an army doctor, had spent time in Illinois, a free state, and Wisconsin, a free territory at the time of Scott’s residence. The Supreme Court was stacked in favor of the slave states. Five of the nine justices were from the South while another, Robert Grier of Pennsylvania, was staunchly pro-slavery. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote the majority decision, which was issued on March 6. The court held that Scott was not free based on his residence in either Illinois or Wisconsin because Scott was not considered a person under the Constitution–in the opinion of the justices, black people were not considered citizens when the Constitution was drafted in 1787. According to Taney, Dred Scott was the property of his owner, and property could not be taken from a person without due process of law. In fact, there were free black citizens of the United States in 1787, but Taney and the other justices were attempting to halt further debate on the issue of slavery in the territories. The decision inflamed regional tensions, which burned for another four years before exploding into the Civil War.
1861 – Provisionary Confederate Congress established Confederate Army.1862 – USS Monitor departed New York for Hampton Roads, VA.
1865 – The last Confederate victory of the Civil War occurred at Natural Bridge crossing near Tallahassee, Fla., when the forces of Union Gen’l. John Newton were routed by entrenched southerners.
1886 – The 1st US alternating current power plant started in Great Barrington, MA.
1918 – US naval boat “Cyclops” disappeared in “Bermuda Triangle.”
1927 – Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr. (d.2004), USAF astronaut (Mercury 9, Gemini 5), was born in Shawnee, Okla.
1932 – Marine Band leader John Philip Sousa died at age 79 in Reading, Pennsylvania.
1943 – Three American cruisers and seven destroyers bombard Japanese airfields at Munda and Vila. Little damage is done. Two Japanese destroyers, however, are sunk in an encounter engagement.
1944 – US heavy bombers raid Berlin for the first time. A force of 660 bombers is sent and 69 are lost.
1944 – On New Britain, the US 1st Marine Division is sent to land on the east side of Willaumez Peninsula with the objective of capturing Talasea. Japanese resistance is weak but the terrain is difficult, so the advance inland is slow.
1945 – The US 9th Army has reached the Rhine all along its front. To the south, US 1st Army is fighting in Cologne and driving toward Remagen farther south — the US 9th Armored Division leads the advance. Farther south, units of US 3rd Army are making a rapid advance toward the Rhine at Koblenz.
1946 – Ho Chi Minh signs an agreement with the French which recognizes the Democratic republic of Vietnam as a free state within the (as yet unformed) Indochinese Federation and the French Union. The new state is not precisely defined and the French leave details to be decided by future agreement. French forces are permitted to land in the north. Bao Dai, to eliminated his becoming a rallying point for opposing nationalist groups, departs on a ‘goodwill’ mission to China. Criticized by some Vietnamese for compromising, Ho Chi minh supposedly retorted, ‘It is better to sniff French dung for a while than to eat China’s all our lives.’
1951 – The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg begins in New York Southern District federal court. Judge Irving R. Kaufman presides over the espionage prosecution of the couple accused of selling nuclear secrets to the Russians (treason could not be charged because the United States was not at war with the Soviet Union). The Rosenbergs, and co-defendant, Morton Sobell, were defended by the father and son team of Emanuel and Alexander Bloch. The prosecution includes the infamous Roy Cohn, best known for his association with Senator Joseph McCarthy. David Greenglass was a machinist at Los Alamos, where America developed the atomic bomb. Julius Rosenberg, his brother-in-law, was a member of the American Communist Party and was fired from his government job during the Red Scare. According to Greengalass, Rosenberg asked him to pass highly confidential instruction on making atomic weapons to the Soviet Union. These materials were transferred to the Russians by Harry Gold, an acquaintance of Greenglass. The Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb (and effectively started the Cold War) in September 1949 based on information, including that from Greenglass, they had obtained from spies. The only direct evidence of the Rosenberg’s involvement was the confession of Greenglass. The left-wing community believed that the Rosenbergs were prosecuted because of their membership in the Communist Party. Their case became the cause celebre of leftists throughout the nation. The trial lasted nearly a month, finally ending on April 4 with convictions for all the defendants. The Rosenbergs were sentenced to death row on April 6 to death row. Sobell received a thirty-year sentence. Greenglass got fifteen years for his cooperation. Reportedly, the Rosenbergs were offered a deal in which their death sentences would be commuted in return for an admission of their guilt. They refused and were executed.
1958 – Form letters from Pres. Eisenhower to 6 civilians appointees provided for them to take office in the event of a national emergency. The group met in 1960 with the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization to discuss staffing for their agencies. Pres. Kennedy relieved the group of its duties in 1961.
1962 – US promised Thailand assistance against “communist” aggression.
1965 – The White House confirms reports that, at the request of South Vietnam, the United States is sending two battalions of U.S. Marines for security work at the Da Nang air base, which will hopefully free South Vietnamese troops for combat. On March 1, Ambassador Maxwell Taylor informed South Vietnamese Premier Phan Huy Quat that the United States was preparing to send 3,500 U.S. Marines to Vietnam. Three days later, a formal request was submitted by the U.S. Embassy, asking the South Vietnamese government to “invite” the United States to send the Marines. Premier Quat, a mere figurehead, had to obtain approval from the real power, Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, chief of the Armed Forces Council. Thieu approved, but asked that the Marines be “brought ashore in the most inconspicuous way feasible.” The Marines began landing near Da Nang on March 8.
1967 – Lyndon B. Johnson announced his plan to establish a draft lottery.
1967 – Muhammad Ali was ordered by selective service to be inducted.
1971 – Operation Lam Son 719 continues as reinforced South Vietnamese forces push into Tchepone, a major enemy supply center located on Route 9 in Laos. The base was deserted and almost completely destroyed as a result of American bombing raids. The operation, begun on February 8, included a limited incursion by South Vietnamese forces into Laos to disrupt the communist supply and infiltration network in Laos along Route 9, adjacent to the two northern provinces of South Vietnam. The operation was supported by U.S. airpower (aviation and airlift) and artillery (firing across the border from firebases inside South Vietnam). Observers described the drive on North Vietnam’s supply routes and depots in Laos as some of the “bloodiest fighting” of the war. Enemy resistance was light at first as a 12,000-man spearhead of the South Vietnamese army thrust its way across the border into the communists’ deepest jungle stronghold toward Tchepone. However, resistance stiffened in the second week of February as the North Vietnamese rushed reinforcements to the area. On February 23, the big push bogged down around 16 miles from the border after bloody fighting in which the communist troops overran two South Vietnamese battalions. The fierce fighting continued into March and the South Vietnamese finally reached Tchepone. However, fighting near the Vietnam border intensified and in the second week of March, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu gave the order for his troops to withdraw as casualties soared on both sides. However, withdrawing the ground task force under heavy North Vietnamese pressure was a difficult task. The South Vietnamese fought for two weeks to get back inside their own border and losses were heavy. The South Vietnamese suffered some 9,000 casualties, almost 50 percent of the force. In supporting the South Vietnamese, the U.S. sustained 1,462 casualties and lost 168 helicopters.
1973 – President Richard Nixon imposed price controls on oil and gas. 1980 – Islamic militants in Tehran said that they would turn over the American hostages to the Revolutionary Council.
1985 – Mexican authorities found the body of US drug agent Enrique C. Salazar.
1990 – Ed Yielding and Joseph T. Vida set the transcontinental speed record flying a SR-71 Blackbird from Los Angeles to Virginia in 64 minutes, averaging 2,124 mph.
1991 – Following Iraq’s capitulation in the Persian Gulf conflict, President Bush told a cheering joint session of Congress that “aggression is defeated. The war is over.”
1998 – The Army honored three Americans who risked their lives and turned their weapons on fellow soldiers to stop the slaughter of Vietnamese villagers at My Lai in 1968.
1998 – It was reported that Panama hired a Canadian Indian tribe, the Tsuu T’ina, to clean out unexploded bombs and shells from an area of Empire Range, which US military forces abandoned.
2002 – US commanders in Afghanistan committed an additional 300 troops to the battle zone in the Shah-I-Kot mountains. Taliban and al-Qaeda forces were reported to have swollen by as many as 500 fighters.
2002 – Astronauts successfully replaced a power-control unit on the Hubble space telescope.
2003 – President Bush held a new conference and warned that he was prepared to go to war soon in Iraq with or without UN backing.
2003 – The United States ratified a treaty on cutting active U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear warheads by two-thirds.
2003 – The US military announces that US-British warplanes have fired at a mobile surface-to-air missile system and an anti-aircraft artillery site in southern Iraq in response to hostile fire.
2006 – Five United States Army soldiers of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, raped the 14-year-old Iraqi girl Abeer Hamza al-Janabi, and then murdered her, her father, her mother Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and her six-year-old sister. The soldiers then set fire to the girl’s body to conceal evidence of the crime. Four of the soldiers were convicted of rape and murder and the fifth was convicted of lesser crimes for the involvement in the war crime, that became known as the Mahmudiyah killings.
2007 – NATO-led forces launch Operation Achilles against the Taliban in Helmand province. Operation Achilles was a NATO operation, part of the war in Afghanistan. Its objective was to clear Helmand province of the Taliban. The operation began on March 6, 2007. The offensive is the largest NATO-based operation in Afghanistan to date. NATO officials reported that, contrary to previous operations, Taliban fighters were avoiding direct confrontation in favor of guerilla tactics. It was led by British ISAF forces and focused on the Kajakai Dam and the towns in the area, which is a major power source for Afghanistan that had not been functioning for a number of years. One part of the mission was Operation Volcano, where British Royal Marines successfully cleared a large Taliban complex near the Kajakai Dam, as well as Operation Kryptonite which actually saw the clearing of the dam by allied forces.
2008 – A bomb causes minor damage to the door of a U.S. military recruiting center in Times Square, New York City. An unknown individual placed a small bomb in front of a United States armed forces recruiting station in Times Square, located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. There were no injuries. A security camera shows the bomber riding a bicycle as he approaches the station, dismounting the bike and planting the bomb, and then speeding off shortly before the blast. New York City police has yet to identify the bomber. Because of their similarities, investigators have suggested the bombing may be linked to two prior and one subsequent New York City bombings done in front of the Mexican Consulate in 2007, the British Consulate in 2005.
2011 – United States Navy commandos from the destroyer USS Bulkeley capture four Somali pirates who boarded the Japanese oil tanker, the MV Guanabara. The tanker was attacked by 4 armed Somali pirates, 3 PM 5 March, 2011. The crew of 24 hid in a safe room, and summoned help from the USS Bulkeley and the Turkish TCG Giresun. The pirates were captured without a fight. Three of the pirates were indicted in Japan, the fourth was turned over to juvenile authorities, as it was determined that he was a minor.
2012 – Law enforcement agencies in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland arrest alleged senior members of the computer hacking group Lulz Sec, including a member of the FBI.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *