1662 – John Winthrop the Younger, the son of the first governor of Massachusetts was honored by being made a fellow of the Royal Society, England’s new scientific society. Winthrop gained a new charter from the king, uniting the colonies of Connecticut and New Haven.
1783 – The 2nd Continental Light Dragoons and the 5th Connecticut Regiment, Continental Line, left the Continental Cantonment at New Windsor and reported to the nearby headquarters of Washington at the Hasbrouck House in Newburgh. There, before a guard mount of the 1st New York, the Commander-in-Chief awarded Sergeant Elijah Churchill and Sergeant William Brown their Badges of Military Merit. Surviving records for the period confirm the presentation of only one other Badge of Military Merit, and the decoration was not used at all after the end of the Revolutionary War. It was revived in February 1932 as the Purple Heart out of respect to Washington’s memory and to his military achievements. The ceremony, however, symbolized much more than recognition of two brave men. Brown, a veteran of 18, had won praise for his bravery in the storming of Stony Point in 1779 and now was cited for gallantry in the trenches before Yorktown. Churchill had distinguished himself during attacks against two forts on Long Island. It represented the climax of the molding of a citizen army of volunteers and militia into a force that had fought on equal terms with one of the world’s best armies, and in doing so, had played a vital role securing freedom and independence for themselves and their fellow citizens.
1802 – Washington, D.C., was incorporated as a city, with the mayor appointed by the president and the council elected by property owners.
1821 – The Richmond [Virginia] Light Artillery was organized.
1855 – American adventurer William Walker departs from San Francisco with about 60 men to conquer Nicaragua. William Walker (May 8, 1824 – September 12, 1860) was an American lawyer, journalist and adventurer, who organized several private military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as “filibustering.” Walker became president of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies. He was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.
1861 – Lincoln asked for 42,000 Army Volunteers and another 18,000 seamen.
1863 – Stonewall Jackson’s arm was amputated and buried. Jackson told his medical director, Dr. Hunter McGuire, “If the enemy does come, I am not afraid of them; I have always been kind to their wounded, and I am sure they will be kind to me.” His words followed an order from Robert E. Lee to move Jackson to Guiney’s Station, fearing that nearby Federal troops might capture him. Following perhaps his greatest performance, leading a brilliant flanking maneuver against Union Major General Joseph Hooker at Chancellorsville, he was mistakenly shot by his own troops while scouting ahead of their lines after dark. Jackson sustained severe wounds to the left arm and minor wounds to the right hand that later led to his death.
1863 – General Joseph Hooker and the Army of the Potomac abandon a key hill on the Chancellorsville battlefield. The Union army was reeling after Stonewall Jackson’s troops swung around the Union right flank and stormed out of the woods on the evening of May 2, causing the Federals to retreat some two miles before stopping the Confederate advance. Nonetheless, Hooker’s forces were still in a position to deal a serious defeat to Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia because they had a numerical advantage and a strategic position between Lee’s divided forces. But Lee had Hooker psychologically beaten. Union forces controlled the key geographical feature in the Chancellorsville area: Hazel Grove, a hill that provided a prime artillery location. General J.E.B. Stuart, the head of the Confederate cavalry, assumed temporary command of Stonewall Jackson’s corps after Jackson was wounded the night before (a wound that proved fatal a week later) and planned to attack Hazel Grove the next morning. This move was made much easier when Hooker made the crucial mistake of ordering an evacuation of the decisive hill. Once Stuart’s artillery occupied Hazel Grove, the Confederates proceeded to wreak havoc on the Union lines around Chancellorsville. Rebel cannons shelled the Union line, and the fighting resulted in more Union casualties than Jackson’s attack the day before. Hooker himself was wounded when an artillery shell struck the column he was leaning against. Stunned, Hooker took a shot of brandy and ordered the retreat from the Chancellorsville area, which allowed Jackson’s men to rejoin the bulk of Lee’s troops. The daring flanking maneuver had worked. Hooker had failed to exploit the divided Army of Northern Virginia, and allowed the smaller Rebel force to defeat his numerically superior force.
1863 – Having paved the way for a final assault on Grand Gulf with the attack of 29 April, Rear Admiral Porter once again moved his gunboats against the strong Confederate batteries. The Southerners, however, finding their position totally untenable, Grant having taken his army into the country back of Grand Gulf, had evacuated. The great land-sea pincer could now close on Vicksburg.
1885 – The US Navy transferred the USS Bear to the Revenue Cutter Service. The Bear became one of the most famous cutters to sail under the Revenue Cutter & Coast Guard ensigns. 1898 – Lt Dion Williams and Marines from the USS Baltimore raised the American flag over Cavite, Philippines.
1923 – The 1st non-stop flight across the US was made. Army lieutenants Kelly and Macready flew from New York to San Diego.
1926 – U.S. marines landed in Nicaragua and remained until 1933.
1942 – Executive Order 9066, signed by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, was issued by Lt. Gen’l. John DeWitt from his headquarters in the SF Presidio. It called for the evacuation of Japanese-Americans from Los Angeles effective May 9. Some 110,000-112,000 Japanese-Americans were settled in 10 relocation camps, the first of which was in Manzanar in Owens Valley, Ca. In the Bay Area most Japanese-Americans were sent to the Tanforan racetrack where they were put up in stables and later relocated to Topaz, Utah.
1942 – The first day of the first modern naval engagement in history, called the Battle of the Coral Sea, a Japanese invasion force succeeds in occupying Tulagi of the Solomon Islands in an expansion of Japan’s defensive perimeter. The United States, having broken Japan’s secret war code and forewarned of an impending invasion of Tulagi and Port Moresby, attempted to intercept the Japanese armada. Four days of battles between Japanese and American aircraft carriers resulted in 70 Japanese and 66 Americans warplanes destroyed. This confrontation, called the Battle of the Coral Sea, marked the first air-naval battle in history, as none of the carriers fired at each other, allowing the planes taking off from their decks to do the battling. Among the casualties was the American carrier Lexington; “the Blue Ghost” (so-called because it was not camouflaged like other carriers) suffered such extensive aerial damage that it had to be sunk by its own crew. Two hundred sixteen Lexington crewmen died as a result of the Japanese aerial bombardment. Although Japan would go on to occupy all of the Solomon Islands, its victory was a Pyrrhic one: The cost in experienced pilots and aircraft carriers was so great that Japan had to cancel its expedition to Port Moresby, Papua, as well as other South Pacific targets.
1943 – US General Devers is appointed to Commander in Chief of the American European Theater Command after General Andrews is killed in an airplane accident.
1943 – In Tunisia, the US 1st Division break out of “Mousetrap Valley” and capture Mateur. An improvised Axis defensive line prevents further progress.
1944 – Wartime rationing of most grades of meats ended in the United States.
1944 – An acoustic torpedo fired by the U-371 hit and destroyed the stern of the Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort USS Menges while she was escorting a convoy in the Mediterranean, killing thirty-one of her crew. The Menges was later repaired and returned to service. She assisted in the sinking of the U-866 on 19 March 1945.
1944 – Japanese Admiral Toyoda is designated Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet. He replaces Admiral Koga who was killed on March 31st.
1944 – The production of synthetic quinine (anti-malarial) by young Harvard scientists Woodward and Doering is announced in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1945 – Allies arrested German nuclear physicist Werner Heisenberg.
1945 – Soviet forces have now reached the Elbe west of Berlin and made contact with US 1st and 9th Armies and in the north with the British 2nd Army. Fighting in Berlin ends.
1945 – In Austria, Innsbruck falls to the US 7th Army while other units advance near Salzburg.
1945 – American naval forces commanded by Admiral Noble land 1000 troops near Santa Cruz in the Gulf of Davao, on Mindanao. Davao City is taken by US 24th Division units.
1945 – On Okinawa, Japanese forces launch a counteroffensive from positions in the south, during the night (May 3-4), but fail to break through the American lines. Japanese artillery batteries, that have remained silent until now to avoid American retaliation, support the assaults.
1946 – In Tokyo, Japan, the International Military Tribunals for the Far East begins hearing the case against 28 Japanese military and government officials accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during World War II. On November 4, 1948, the trial ended with 25 of 28 Japanese defendants being found guilty. Of the three other defendants, two had died during the lengthy trial, and one was declared insane. On November 12, the war crimes tribunal passed death sentences on seven of the men, including General Hideki Tojo, who served as Japanese premier during the war, and others principles, such as Iwane Matsui, who organized the Rape of Nanking, and Heitaro Kimura, who brutalized Allied prisoners of war. Sixteen others were sentenced to life imprisonment, and two were sentenced to lesser terms in prison. On December 23, 1948, Tojo and the six others were executed in Tokyo. Unlike the Nuremberg trial of Nazi war criminals, where there were four chief prosecutors, to represent Great Britain, France, the United States, and the USSR, the Tokyo trial featured only one chief prosecutor–American Joseph B. Keenan, a former assistant to the U.S. attorney general. However, other nations, especially China, contributed to the proceedings, and Australian judge William Flood Webb presided. In addition to the central Tokyo trial, various tribunals sitting outside Japan judged some 5,000 Japanese guilty of war crimes, of whom more than 900 were executed. Some observers thought that Emperor Hirohito should have been tried for his tacit approval of Japanese policy during the war, but he was protected by U.S. authorities who saw him as a symbol of Japanese unity and conservatism, both favorable traits in the postwar U.S. view.
1947 – Japan’s postwar constitution goes into effect. The progressive constitution granted universal suffrage, stripped Emperor Hirohito of all but symbolic power, stipulated a bill of rights, abolished peerage, and outlawed Japan’s right to make war. The document was largely the work of Supreme Allied Commander Douglas MacArthur and his occupation staff, who had prepared the draft in February 1946 after a Japanese attempt was deemed unacceptable. As the defender of the Philippines from 1941 to 1942, and commander of Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific theater from 1942 to 1945, Douglas MacArthur was the most acclaimed American general in the war against Japan. On September 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, he presided over the official surrender of Japan. According to the terms of surrender, Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese government were subject to the authority of the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers in occupied Japan, a post filled by General MacArthur. On September 8, Supreme Commander MacArthur made his way by automobile through the ruins of Tokyo to the American embassy, which would be his home for the next five and a half years. The occupation was to be a nominally Allied enterprise, but increasing Cold War division left Japan firmly in the American sphere of influence. From his General Headquarters, which overlooked the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, MacArthur presided over an extremely productive reconstruction of Japanese government, industry, and society along American models. MacArthur was a gifted administrator, and his progressive reforms were for the most part welcomed by the Japanese people. The most important reform carried out by the American occupation was the establishment of a new constitution to replace the 1889 Meiji Constitution. In early 1946, the Japanese government submitted a draft for a new constitution to the General Headquarters, but it was rejected for being too conservative. MacArthur ordered his young staff to draft their own version in one week. The document, submitted to the Japanese government on February 13, 1946, protected the civil liberties MacArthur had introduced and preserved the emperor, though he was stripped of power. Article 9 forbade the Japanese ever to wage war again. Before Japan’s defeat, Emperor Hirohito was officially regarded as Japan’s absolute ruler and a quasi-divine figure. Although his authority was sharply limited in practice, he was consulted with by the Japanese government and approved of its expansionist policies from 1931 through World War II. Hirohito feared, with good reason, that he might be indicted as a war criminal and the Japanese imperial house abolished. MacArthur’s constitution at least preserved the emperor as the “symbol of the state and of the unity of the people,” so Hirohito offered his support. Many conservatives in the government were less enthusiastic, but on April 10, 1946, the new constitution was endorsed in popular elections that allowed Japanese women to vote for the first time. The final draft, slightly revised by the Japanese government, was made public one week later. On November 3, it was promulgated by the Diet–the Japanese parliament–and on May 3, 1947, it came into force. In 1948, Yoshida Shigeru’s election as prime minister ushered in the Yoshida era, marked by political stability and rapid economic growth in Japan. In 1949, MacArthur gave up much of his authority to the Japanese government, and in September 1951 the United States and 48 other nations signed a formal peace treaty with Japan. On April 28, 1952, the treaty went into effect, and Japan assumed full sovereignty as the Allied occupation came to an end.
1949 – First Navy firing of a high altitude Viking rocket at White Sands, NM.
1951 – The U.S. Navy’s Air Group 19 conducted an air strike on the Hwachon Dam with 12 flack-suppressing F4U Corsairs and eight AD3 Skyraiders armed with Mark-13 aerial torpedoes. This was the first use of these weapons since World War II.
1951 – The Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, meeting in closed session, begin their hearings into the dismissal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur by President Harry S. Truman. The hearings served as a sounding board for MacArthur and his extremist views on how the Cold War should be fought. General MacArthur served as commander of U.S. forces during the Korean War until 1951. In late 1950 he made a serious strategic blunder when he dismissed warnings that the People’s Republic of China would enter the conflict on the side of its communist ally, North Korea. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops smashed into the American lines in November 1950, driving the U.S. troops back with heavy losses. MacArthur, who had earlier complained about President Truman’s handling of the war, now went on an all-out public relations attack against the president and his Cold War policies. In numerous public statements and interviews, General MacArthur criticized Truman’s timidity. He also asked for permission to carry out bombing attacks against China and to expand the war. President Truman flatly refused, believing that expanding the war would lead to a possible confrontation with the Soviet Union and World War III. On April 11, 1951, President Truman removed MacArthur from his command. Though Truman clearly did not appreciate MacArthur’s approach, the American public liked his tough stance on communism, and he returned home to a hero’s welcome. On May 3, 1951, just a few days after MacArthur’s return to the United States, the Senate Armed Forces and Foreign Relations Committees began hearings into his dismissal. Partisan politics played a significant role in the hearings, which were instigated by Republican senators eager to discredit the Democratic administration of Harry Truman. MacArthur was the featured witness, and he spoke for more than six hours at the opening session of the hearings. He condemned Truman’s Cold War foreign policy, arguing that if the president’s “inhibitions” about the war in Korea had been removed the conflict could have been “wound up” without a “very great additional complement of ground troops.” He went on to suggest that only through a strategy of complete military destruction of the communist empire could the U.S. hope to win the Cold War. The hearings ended after seven weeks, with no definite conclusions reached about MacArthur’s dismissal. However, the general’s extremist stance and intemperate statements concerning the need for an expanded conflict against communism during the hearings soon eroded his popularity with the American public. MacArthur attempted to garner the Republican presidential nomination in 1952, but lost to the more moderate campaign of another famed military leader, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
1952 – A ski-modified U.S. Air Force C-47 piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph O. Fletcher of Oklahoma and Lieutenant Colonel William P. Benedict of California becomes the first aircraft to land on the North Pole. A moment later, Fletcher climbed out of the plane and walked to the exact geographic North Pole, probably the first person in history to do so. In the early 20th century, American explorers Robert Peary and Dr. Frederick Cook, both claiming to have separately reached the North Pole by land, publicly disputed each other’s claims. In 1911, Congress formally recognized Peary’s claim. In recent years, further studies of the conflicting claims suggest that neither expedition reached the exact North Pole, but that Peary came far closer, falling perhaps 30 miles short. In 1952, Lieutenant Colonel Fletcher was the first person to undisputedly stand on the North Pole. Standing alongside Fletcher on the top of the world was Dr. Albert P. Crary, a scientist who in 1961 traveled to the South Pole by motorized vehicle, becoming the first person in history to have stood on both poles.
1952 – Air Force Captain Robert T. Latshaw, Jr., 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, and Major Donald E. Adams, 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, became the 13th and 14th jet aces of the Korean War, shooting down five enemy aircraft each.
1959 – Former President Harry S Truman, who was a Guard captain commanding Battery D, 129th Field Artillery from Missouri during World War I, is the honored guest at the dedication of the new National Guard Association “Memorial” on Capital Hill. The Association, organized in 1879, is a private organization with membership restricted to National Guard officers (active and retired), and represents Guard political and financial interests to members of Congress on actions prohibited by federal law for the Guard Bureau to pursue. To share information with its membership in 1947 the Association began publishing The National Guardsman (today National Guard) magazine. Over the years it taken upon itself the secondary mission of telling the Guard’s history through the “National Guard Memorial Museum” which is open free of charge to the public.
1964 – While the sinking of the USS Card had resulted in no injuries, 8 US service members are wounded when an insurgent throws a grenade into the crowd viewing the sunken hulk at dockside.
1965 – The lead element of the 173rd Airborne Brigade (“Sky Soldiers”), stationed in Okinawa, departs for South Vietnam. It was the first U.S. Army ground combat unit committed to the war. Combat elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade included the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Battalions, 503rd Infantry; the 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Artillery; Company D, 16th Armor; Troop E, 17th Cavalry; and the 335th Aviation company. Headquartered at Bien Hoa Air Base near Saigon, the Brigade conducted operations to keep communist forces away from the Saigon-Bien Hoa complex. In February 1967, the Brigade conducted a combat parachute jump into a major communist base area to the north of Saigon near the Cambodian border. In November 1967, the Brigade was ordered to the Central Highlands, where they fought a major battle at Dak To against an entrenched North Vietnamese Army regiment on Hill 875. In some of the most brutal fighting of the war, the paratroopers captured the hill on Thanksgiving Day, winning the Presidential Unit Citation for bravery in action. After more than six years on the battlefield, the Brigade was withdrawn from Vietnam in August 1971. During combat service, they suffered 1,606 killed in action and 8,435 wounded in action. Twelve paratroopers of the 173rd won the Medal of Honor for conspicuous bravery in battle.
1968 – After three days of battle, the U.S. Marines retook Dai Do complex in Vietnam, only to find the North Vietnamese had evacuated the area.
1968 – At Phan Rang Air Base, Vietnam, Colorado’s 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron becomes the first Air Guard unit to arrive in Vietnam, less than four months after mobilization. Flying F-100C Super Sabre aircraft it, like the other three mobilized Air Guard units to serve in Vietnam, will primarily conduct low-level ground support missions in coordination with American and South Vietnamese units operating in South Vietnam. These include precision bombing plus machine gun and rocket attacks on enemy emplacements and troop concentrations.
1968 – After 34 days of discussions to select a site, the United States and North Vietnam agree to begin formal negotiations in Paris on May 10, or shortly thereafter. Hanoi disclosed that ex-Foreign Minister Xuan Thuy would head the North Vietnamese delegation at the talks. Ambassador W. Averell Harriman was named as his U.S. counterpart. The start of negotiations brought a flurry of hope that the war might be settled quickly. Instead, the talks rapidly degenerated into a dreary ritual of weekly sessions, during which both sides repeated long-standing positions without seeming to come close to any agreement.
1986 – In NASA’s first post-Challenger launch, an unmanned Delta rocket lost power in its main engine shortly after liftoff, forcing safety officers to destroy it by remote control.
1992 – In Los Angeles, soldiers continued to patrol streets and guard fire-gutted and ransacked stores in the wake of rioting that erupted following the Rodney King-taped beating acquittals.
1993 – American sailor Terry M. Helvey confessed to stomping to death Allen Schindler, a homosexual shipmate, but told his court-martial in Japan that he was drunk and did not plan the killing. Helvey was later sentenced to life in prison.
1996 – A weak compromise treaty was passed in Geneva that aimed to phase out non-detectable plastic mines, and introduced rules to limit the lifespan of anti-personnel mines planted outside marked fields to 3 months. The new treaty will go into effect once it is signed by 20 countries and revised an outdated 1980 weapons protocol signed by 57 nations. It has few enforcement provisions. An international conference in Geneva ended 30 months of arduous negotiations over whether to ban land mines with a weak compromise treaty giving countries nine years to switch to detectable, self-destructive devices.
1997 – A group of Texas separatists ended a weeklong standoff with authorities; however, two armed followers fled into the woods. One was killed, the other eventually captured.
1998 – The Columbia Space Shuttle landed at Cape Canaveral after a 16-day mission. The mission studied the effects of space travel on neurological development in nearly 2000 animals.
1999 – Pres. Clinton said that he would support a bombing pause if he was convinced that the Yugoslav crackdown on Kosovo guerrillas and civilians was ending and that Serbian forces were being withdrawn.
1999 – US jets attacked Iraqi air defense sites. Iraqi news reported 2 civilians killed and 12 injured north of Mosul.
1999 – The Justice and Treasury departments agreed to unfreeze the assets of Saleh Idris, the owner of the Sudanese factory that was bombed by US cruise missiles Aug. 20, 1998.
1999 – NATO jets hit a bus in Kosovo and killed about 20 people.
2000 – Gen. Wesley Clark left his post as NATO’s supreme allied commander. He was replaced by Gen. Joseph Ralston.
2000 – The trial of two alleged Libyan intelligence agents accused of blowing Pan Am Flight 103 out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 opened in the Netherlands. In January 2001, one of the defendants, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, was convicted of murder; the other defendant, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.
2001 – US federal agents broke up a smuggling ring that brought hundreds of Ukrainians into the US through Mexico.
2002 – UNMOVIC and Iraqi officials hold talks. The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan says these are the first talks to take place at a technical level since December 1998.
2003 – In Baghdad, Iraq, schools re-opened for the 1st time since the start of war.
2004 – Militiamen pounded a U.S. base in the most intense attacks yet on U.S. troops in the Shiite city of Najaf. US troops killed 20 Shiite militiamen in Najaf. Insurgents opened fire in the Baghdad, killing one American soldier and wounding two others.
2011 – The US Army Corps of Engineers blasts a hole in two levees along the Mississippi River, flooding some 200 square miles (520 km2) of Missouri farmland in an effort to save the town of Cairo, Illinois further downriver from record-breaking flood waters.
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