This Day in U.S. Military History…… May 2

2 May
1497 – John Cabot departed for North America.
1670 – King Charles II of England grants a permanent charter to the Hudson’s Bay Company, made up of the group of French explorers who opened the lucrative North American fur trade to London merchants. The charter conferred on them not only a trading monopoly but also effective control over the vast region surrounding North America’s Hudson Bay. Although contested by other English traders and the French in the region, the Hudson’s Bay Company was highly successful in exploiting what would become eastern Canada. During the 18th century, the company gained an advantage over the French in the area but was also strongly criticized in Britain for its repeated failures to find a northwest passage out of Hudson Bay. After France’s loss of Canada at the end of the French and Indian Wars, new competition developed with the establishment of the North West Company by Montreal merchants and Scottish traders. As both companies attempted to dominate fur potentials in central and western Canada, violence sometimes erupted, and in 1821 the two companies were amalgamated under the name of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The united company ruled a vast territory extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and under the governorship of Sir George Simpson from 1821 to 1856, reached the peak of its fortunes. After Canada was granted dominion status in 1867, the company lost its monopoly on the fur trade, but it had diversified its business ventures and remained Canada’s largest corporation through the 1920s.
1776 – France and Spain agreed to donate arms to American rebels.
1792 – The Second Congress (1791-93) enacted the first Militia Act of 1792, which defined the authority of the President as Commander in Chief, to call out the militia.
1861 – General Winfield Scott wrote to President Lincoln suggesting a cordon capable of enveloping the seceded states and noted that “the transportation of men and all supplies by water is about a fifth of the land cost, besides the immense saving of time.” On the next day Scott elaborated further to General George McClellan: “We rely greatly on the sure operation of a complete blockade of the Atlantic and Gulf ports soon to commence. In connection with such blockade, we propose a power¬ful movement down the Mississippi to the ocean, with a cordon of posts at proper points . . . the object being to clear out and keep open this great line of communication in connection with the strict blockade of the seaboard, so as to envelop the insurgent States and bring them to terms with less bloodshed than by any other plan.” The heart of the celebrated Anaconda Plan which would strangle the Confederacy on all sides was control of the sea and inland waterways by the Union Navy; the strategy of victory was (a) strengthen the blockade, (b) split the Confederacy along the line of the Mississippi River, and (c) support land operations by amphibious assault, gunfire. and transport.
1862 – Confederate forces evacuate Yorktown during the Peninsular campaign
1863 – Stonewall Jackson administers a devastating defeat to the Army of the Potomac and is wounded by friendly fire. In one of the most stunning upsets of the war, a vastly outnumbered Army of Northern Virginia sent the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General Joseph Hooker, back to Washington in defeat. Hooker, who headed for Lee’s army confident and numerically superior, had sent part of his force to encounter Lee’s troops at Fredericksburg the day before, while the rest swung west to approach Lee from the rear. Meanwhile, Lee had left part of his army at Fredericksburg and had taken the rest of his troops to confront Hooker near Chancellorsville. When the armies collided on May 1, Hooker withdrew into a defensive posture. Sensing Hooker’s trepidation, Lee sent Jackson along with 28,000 troops on a swift, 14-mile march around the Union right flank. Splitting his army into three parts in the face of the mighty Army of the Potomac was a bold move, but it paid huge dividends for the Confederates. Although Union scouts detected the movement as Jackson swung southward, Hooker misinterpreted the maneuver as a retreat. When Jackson’s troops swung back north and into the thick woods west of Hooker’s army, Union pickets reported a possible buildup; but their warnings fell on deaf ears. In the evening of May 2, Union soldiers from General Oliver Otis Howard’s 11th Corps were casually cooking their supper and playing cards when waves of forest animals charged from the woods. Behind them were Jackson’s attacking troops. The Federal flank crumbled as Howard’s men were driven back some two miles before stopping the Rebel advance. Despite the Confederate victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Union forces soon gained the upper hand in the war in the eastern theater. Scouting in front of the lines as they returned in the dark, Jackson and his aides were fired upon by their own troops. Jackson’s arm was amputated the next morning, and he never recovered. He died from complications a week later, leaving Lee without his most able lieutenant.
1865 – President Johnson offered a $100,000 reward for the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
1890 – The Oklahoma Territory was organized.
1926 – US military “intervened” in Nicaragua. [see May 3]
1942 – Admiral Chester J. Nimitz, convinced that the Japanese would attack Midway Island, visited the island to review its readiness.
1942 – The Japanese begin the concentration of forces for what will become the battle of the Coral Sea. Their objective is to occupy Port Moresby. Admiral Takagi commands a covering force including the aircraft carriers Zuikaku and Shokaku. Admiral Goto commands the naval support force for the landing, including the carrier Shoho and four heavy cruisers. Admiral Inouye is in command of the main invasion force concentrated at Rabaul. American code breaking allows Admiral Nimitz to concentrate Allied forces to oppose the Japanese forces. Initially these forces include only Admiral Fletcher’s Task Force 17 with the carrier Yorktown. Later Task Force 11 (Admiral Fitch) with the aircraft carrier Lexington and Task force 44 (Admiral Crace) with Australian and American cruisers.
1945 – At noon the German surrender becomes effective. The long, difficult and controversial campaign in Italy is over. Allied forces reach Trieste, Milan and Turin during the course of the day, while others are advancing north toward Brenner Pass where they will link up with US 7th Army forces from the north. Approximately 1 million German soldiers lay down their arms as the terms of the German unconditional surrender, signed at Caserta on April 29, come into effect. Many Germans surrender to Japanese soldiers-Japanese Americans. Among the American tank crews that entered the northern Italian town of Biella was an all-Nisei (second-generation) infantry battalion, composed of Japanese Americans from Hawaii. Early that same day, Russian Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov accepts the surrender of the German capital. The Red Army takes 134,000 German soldiers prisoner.
1945 – The US 14th Corps units advancing west along the Bicol Peninsula of Luzon link up, near Naga, with units from the Legaspi area that have moved east. On this part of the island, Japanese forces have now been scattered.
1945 – The Soviet Union announces the capture of Berlin and Soviet soldiers hoist their red flag over the Reichstag building.
1946 – Marines from Treasure Island Marine Barracks, under the command of Warrant Officer Charles L. Buckner, aided in suppressing the three-day prison riot at Alcatraz Penitentiary in San Francisco Bay. WO Buckner, a veteran of the Bougainville and Guam campaigns, ably led his force of Marines without suffering a single casualty. The Battle of Alcatraz, which lasted until May 4, was the result of an unsuccessful escape attempt at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Two guards—William A. Miller and Harold Stites—were killed along with three of the inmates. Eleven guards and one convict were also injured. Two of the surviving convicts were later executed for their roles.
1952 – The communists rejected U.N. proposals over questions of voluntary repatriation and proposed to withdraw the nomination of the Soviet Union from the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission if the U.N. Command agreed the forcible repatriation of 132,000 prisoners in exchange for 12,000 held by the communists. Admiral C. Turner Joy, chief UNC delegate at the armistice negotiations, rejected the proposal on behalf of the U.N. Command.
1964 – An explosion of a charge assumed to have been placed by Viet Cong terrorists sinks the USNS Card at its dock in Saigon. No one was injured and the ship was eventually raised and repaired. The Card, an escort carrier being used as an aircraft and helicopter ferry, had arrived in Saigon on April 30.
1965 – A Peking radio broadcast charges that the USSR has joined the “US aggressors” in a “peace negotiation swindle.” Reportedly the Soviets are backing some kind of peace conference before the total withdrawal of US forces.
1966 – In a speech before the US Chamber of Commerce, Defense Secretary McNamara reports that North Vietnmese infiltration of the South is up to 4500 men a month–three times the 1965 level.
1967 – Communist MiG bases at Kep, 37 miles northeast of Hanoi, are bombed. Pilots report heavy damage.
1968 – The U.S. Army attacked Nhi Ha in South Vietnam and began a fourteen-day battle to wrestle it away from Vietnamese Communists.
1970 – American and South Vietnamese forces continue the attack into Cambodia that began on April 29. This limited “incursion” into Cambodia (as it was described by Richard Nixon) included 13 major ground operations to clear North Vietnamese sanctuaries 20 miles inside the Cambodian border. Some 50,000 South Vietnamese soldiers and 30,000 U.S. troops were involved, making it the largest operation of the war since Operation Junction City in 1967. The operation began on April 29 with South Vietnamese forces moving into what was known as the “Parrot’s Beak,” the area of Cambodia that projects into South Vietnam above the Mekong Delta. During the first two days of the operation, an 8,000-man South Vietnamese task force, including elements of two infantry divisions plus four ranger battalions and four armored cavalry squadrons, killed 84 communist soldiers while suffering 16 dead and 157 wounded. The second stage of the campaign began on May 2 with a series of joint U.S.-South Vietnamese operations aimed at clearing communist sanctuaries located in the densely vegetated “Fishhook” area of Cambodia (across the border from South Vietnam, 70 miles from Saigon). The U.S. 1st Cavalry Division and 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, along with the South Vietnamese 3rd Airborne Brigade, killed 3,190 communists in the action and captured massive amounts of war materiel, including 2,000 individual and crew-served weapons, 300 trucks, and 40 tons of foodstuffs. By the time all U.S. ground forces departed Cambodia on June 30, the Allied forces had discovered and captured or destroyed 10 times more enemy supplies and equipment than they had captured inside South Vietnam during the entire previous year. Many intelligence analysts at the time believed that the Cambodian incursion dealt a stunning blow to the communists, driving main force units away from the border and damaging their morale, and in the process buying as much as a year for South Vietnam’s survival. However, the incursion gave the antiwar movement in the United States a new rallying point. News of the operation set off a wave of antiwar demonstrations, including one at Kent State University that resulted in the deaths of four students at the hands of Army National Guard troops. Another protest at Jackson State in Mississippi resulted in the shooting of two students when police opened fire on a women’s dormitory. The incursion also angered many in Congress, who felt that Nixon was illegally widening the scope of the war; this resulted in a series of congressional resolutions and legislative initiatives that would thenceforth severely limit the executive power of the president.
1970 – Student anti-war protesters at Ohio’s Kent State University burned down the campus ROTC building. Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes ordered in the National Guard to take control of the campus.
1970 – Alexander Haig, deputy to presidential assistant Henry Kissinger, requests FBI wiretaps on New York Times reporter William Beecher, Secretary of Defense laird’s military assistant Robert Pursley, State Department counselor Richard Peterson, and Assistant Secretary of State William H. Sullivan. The wiretaps will remain in place until the following February.
1972 – The South Vietnamese 3rd Division, protecting Quangtri Province, panics and collapses within a week. The entire defense north of Hue is left to one brigade of South Vietnamese Marines.
1972 – Secret negotiations between Kissinger, Le Duc Tho, and Xuan Thuy resume in Paris, but with no result. They will meet again sporadically throughout the year.
1975 – US Navy departs Vietnamese waters at end of evacuation.
1992 – Los Angeles began to recover from rioting that had erupted in the wake of the Rodney King-taped beating acquittals; about 2,800 National Guard troops patrolled the city while 3,200 stood by.
1992 – Iraq admits to having had a “defensive” biological weapons program.
1996 – UNSCOM supervises the destruction of Al-Hakam, Iraq’s main biological weapons facility.
1997 – A new national memorial honoring Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt was officially opened in Washington, D.C., and was dedicated by Pres. Clinton
1997 – In Texas Robert Scheidt surrendered to police and left behind 7 people of the Republic of Texas under the leadership of Richard McLaren. The number of separatists was reduced to 7 from an earlier estimate of 13.
1999 – A US F-16 went down over western Serbia on the 39th night of air strikes. Allied forces rescued the pilot.
1999 – Yugoslav authorities handed over to the Rev. Jesse Jackson three American prisoners of war who had been held for 32 days.
1999 – NATO bombings struck the Obrenovac power plant in Belgrade and blacked out large areas of Serbia. A soft bomb (KIT-18) sprayed graphite over the power station and shorted its circuits. A metalworks factory in Valjevo was hit and missile hit Mitrovica where one woman was killed and several civilians wounded.
2000 – President Bill Clinton announces that accurate GPS access would no longer be restricted to the United States military.
2001 – In China US technical experts examined the US spy plane on Hainan Island.
2002 – A report on Iraq’s oil sales showed that illegal surcharges allowed Iraq to siphon off large amounts for its war chest.
2004 – American hostage Thomas Hamill, kidnapped three weeks ago in an insurgent attack on his convoy, was found by U.S. forces south of Tikrit after he apparently escaped from his captors.
2011 – Osama bin Laden, the founder and head of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan shortly after 1:00 am PKT (20:00 UTC, May 1) by U.S. Navy SEALs of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six). The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was carried out in a Central Intelligence Agency-led operation. In addition to DEVGRU, participating units included the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) and CIA operatives. The raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was launched from Afghanistan. After the raid, U.S. forces took bin Laden’s body to Afghanistan for identification, then buried it at sea within 24 hours of his death. The United States had direct evidence that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, knew of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Al-Qaeda confirmed the death on May 6 with posts made on militant websites, vowing to avenge the killing.
2013 – North Korea sentences American Kenneth Bae to 15 years of prison labor for “hostile acts” against the regime. The United States calls for amnesty.

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