Feast Day of Ferdinand III of Castile, Paton Saint of Engineers: Ferdinand III of Castile was the son of Alfonso IX, King of Leon, and Berengaria, daughter of Alfonso III, King of Castile (Spain). He was declared king of Castile at age eighteen. Ferdinand was born near Salamanca; proclaimed king of Palencia, Valladolid, and Burgos; his mother advised and assisted him during his young reign. He married Princess Beatrice, daughter of Philip of Swabia, King of Germany and they had seven sons and three daughters. His father (the king of Leon) turned against him and tried to take over his rule. The two reconciled later, and fought successfully against the Moors. In 1225, he held back Islamic invaders; prayed and fasted to prepare for the war; extremely devoted to the Blessed Virgin. Between 1234-36, Ferdinand conquered the city of Cordoba from the Moors. Queen Beatrice died in 1236, and he overtook Seville shortly thereafter. He founded the Cathedral of Burgos and the University of Salamanca; married Joan of Ponthieu after the death of Beatrice. He died on May 30th after a prolonged illness, and buried in the habit of his secular Franciscan Order. His remains are preserved in the Cathedral of Seville and was canonized by Pope Clement X in 1671. Ferdinand was a great administrator and a man of deep faith. He founded hospitals and bishoprics, monasteries, churches, and cathedrals during his reign. Her also compiled and reformed a code of laws which were used until the modern era. Ferdinand rebuilt the Cathedral of Burgos and changed the mosque in Seville into a Cathedral. He was a just ruler, frequently pardoning former offenders to his throne.
1498 – Columbus departed with 6 ships for his 3rd trip to America. [see Jun 7]
1539 – Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto landed at Tampa Bay, Florida, with 600 soldiers in search of gold. Hernando de Soto returned to the New World at the head of a 1,000-man expedition into North America. He landed near present-day Tampa Bay and proceeded through what is now Alabama and Tennessee, making treaties with some Indian, viciously fighting with others.
1806 – In Logan County, Kentucky, future president Andrew Jackson participates in a duel, killing Charles Dickinson, a lawyer regarded as one of the best pistol shots in the area. The proud and volatile Jackson, a former senator and representative of Tennessee, called for the duel after his wife Rachel was slandered as a bigamist by Dickinson, who was referring to a legal error in the divorce from her first husband in 1791. Jackson met his foe at Harrison’s Mills on Red River in Logan, Kentucky, on May 30, 1806. In accordance with dueling custom, the two stood 24 feet apart, with pistols pointed downward. After the signal, Dickinson fired first, grazing Jackson’s breastbone and breaking some of his ribs. However, Jackson, a former Tennessee militia leader, maintained his stance and fired back, fatally wounding his opponent. It was one of several duels Jackson was said to have participated in during his lifetime, the majority of which were allegedly called in defense of his wife’s honor. None of the other rumored duels were recorded, and whether he killed anyone else in this manner is not known. In 1829, Rachel died, and Jackson was elected the seventh president of the United States.
1814 – Navy gunboats capture three British boats on Lake Ontario near Sandy Creek, NY.
1848 – Mexico ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo giving US: New Mexico, California and parts of Nevada, Utah, Arizona & Colorado in return for $15 million.
1854 – The territories of Nebraska and Kansas were established. The governor of the Kansas Territory was James William Denver. Pres. Pierce kept appointing proslavery governors. The Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise and opened the north to slavery. This period of Kansas history was incorporated into the 1998 novel “The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton,” by Jane Smiley.
1861 – U.S.S. Merrimack, scuttled and burned at Norfolk Navy Yard, raised by Confederates.
1861 – Members of the 7th New York Volunteer Infantry continue to train at “Camp Cameron” as part of the garrison of the Union capital. The regiment arrived soon after war began on April 12. This is the same unit, then designated as the 2nd Battalion, 11th New York Artillery, which adopted the nickname “National Guard” in honor of the visit to New York in 1825 of the Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette, who had served as one of General George Washington’s ablest commanders during the American Revolution, commanded the “Garde Nationale de Paris” during the French Revolution. After he left the unit was redesignated to the 7th New York and maintained the ‘National Guard’ designation. The scriptic letters “NG” often appeared embossed on member’s cross-belt plates, buttons, cartridge box plates and other accoutrements, as well as on camp furniture. By the end of the 19th century many uniformed volunteer companies used the phrase ‘National Guard’ in their official designations and several states had adopted the term in reference to their entire state militia organization. By 1916 the term “National Guard” was mandated as the official designation for all organized militia coming under federal authority and receiving federal funds.
1862 – Confederates abandon the city of Corinth. After the epic struggle at Shiloh in April 1862, the Confederate army, under the command of P.T. Beauregard, concentrated at Corinth, while the Union army, under Henry Halleck, began a slow advance from the Shiloh battlefield toward the rail center at Corinth. Halleck had no intention of taking on Beauregard’s army directly; he was more concerned with controlling the railroad junction. Beauregard was in a difficult position. Halleck, the commander of Union forces in the West, had at his disposal Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee, Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio, and John Pope’s Army of the Mississippi. With these forces, he had a more than two-to-one advantage over Beauregard. Nearly a week before the evacuation, Beauregard assessed his situation with his lieutenants. Although he considered the city to be vital to the Confederacy, he also worried that his entire command could be captured or cut to pieces if a retreat was delayed. So he crafted a clever withdrawal from Corinth: His troops deployed a number of logs painted black (“Quaker guns”) along his front lines to fool the Yankees into thinking they were facing substantial artillery. Meanwhile, he had his troops cook extra rations and cheer the arrival of empty boxcars to lead the Union troops to believe the Confederates were preparing for battle and receiving reinforcements. On the night of May 29, Beauregard began slipping his forces out of Corinth. On May 30, the remainder of the army left the city and burned any remaining supplies. Halleck’s men entered a deserted Corinth later that day. Although an important city had been forfeited to the Union army, Beauregard’s army remained intact and, with it, Confederate hopes in the West.
1861 – Union troops occupy Grafton, Virginia.
1862 – Battle of Front Royal, VA.
1864 – Battle of Bethesda Church, VA.
1864 – Mounting evidence pointed to a Confederate naval assault on Union forces in the James River below Richmond. This date, John Loomis, a deserter from C.S.S. Hampton, reported that three ironclads and six wooden gunboats, all armed with torpedoes, had passed the obstructions at Drewry’s Bluff and were below Fort Darling, awaiting an opportunity to attack. The ironclads were C.S.S. Virginia II, Flag Officer John K. Mitchell, C.S.S. Richmond, Lieutenant William H Parker, and C.S.S. Fredericksburg, Commander Thomas R. Rootes.
1865 – William Clarke Quantrill (27), criminal, Confederate bushwhacker, died.
1868 – By proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, the first major Memorial Day observance is held to honor those who died “in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” Known to some as “Decoration Day,” mourners honored the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery. The 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances that had taken place in various locations in the three years since the end of the Civil War. In fact, several cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Mississippi; Macon, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; and Carbondale, Illinois. In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon B. Johnson, declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo–which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866–because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags. By the late 19th century, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day, and after World War I, observers began to honor the dead of all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. It is customary for the president or vice president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. More than 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually. Several Southern states continue to set aside a special day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.
1912 – U.S. Marines were sent to Nicaragua to protect American interests.
1921 – U.S. Navy transferred Teapot Dome oil reserves to the Department of Interior.
1922 – The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C., by Chief Justice William Howard Taft. The Memorial has 48 sculptured festoons above the columns representing the number of states at the time of dedication. The 36 Doric columns in the Lincoln Memorial represent the number of states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death in 1865. The limestone and marble edifice, which is situated at the western end of the Mall, was designed by Henry Bacon in the style of a Greek temple.
1942 – Four Japanese submarines arrive too late to intercept the American task forces destined for Midway.
1942 – US aircraft carrier Yorktown left Pearl Harbor.
1943 – US forces complete the occupation of Attu Island. American losses are reported as 600 dead and 1200 wounded. Japanese losses are given as 2350 killed (including many suicides) and 28 wounded have been captured.
1945 – On Okinawa, American forces reach Shuri, south of the former Japanese positions. Two battalions of US Marines reach the southeast edge of Naha.
1945 – The Iranian government formally requests the withdrawal of American, British and Soviet troops from Iran.
1951 – Eighth Army regained the Kansas Line.
1952 – Far East Air Forces had flown 200,000 sorties in the Korean War during some 330 consecutive days of combat operations.
1958 – Memorial Day: the remains of two unidentified American servicemen, killed in action during World War II and the Korean War respectively, are buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
1962 – Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem,” premiered.
1965 – Viet Cong offensive began against US base at Da Nang.
1966 – China charges that US planes killed three persons during an attack on Chinese fishing boats north of the Gulf of Tonkin in international waters.
1966 – In the largest raids since air attacks on North Vietnam began in February 1965, U.S. planes destroy five bridges, 17 railroad cars, and 20 buildings in the Thanh Hoa and Vinh areas (100 and 200 miles south of Hanoi, respectively). Others planes hit Highway 12 in four places north of the Mugia Pass and inflicted heavy damage on the Yen Bay arsenal and munitions storage area, which was located 75 miles northeast of Hanoi. A U.S. spokesman attributed the unprecedented number of planes taking part in the raids to an improvement in weather conditions.
1966 – Launch of Surveyor 1, the first US spacecraft to land on an extraterrestrial body.
1969 – South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu, concluding a four-day visit to South Korea, tells reporters at a news conference that he would “never” agree to a coalition government with the National Liberation Front (NLF). Regarding the role of the NLF in possible elections, Thieu said, “If the communists are willing to lay down their weapons, abandon the communist ideology, and abandon atrocities, they could participate in elections.”
1971 – The North Vietnamese conclude a series of 48 attacks inside South Vietnam during a 24-hour period. Included in the assaults are five allied DMZ bases, and the US air base at Danang. The following day a Saigon bomb blast levels a government building.
1971 – The U.S. unmanned space probe Mariner 9 is launched on a mission to gather scientific information on Mars, the fourth planet from the sun. The 1,116-pound spacecraft entered the planet’s orbit on November 13, 1971, and circled Mars twice each day for almost a year, photographing the surface and analyzing the atmosphere with infrared and ultraviolet instruments. It gathered data on the atmospheric composition, density, pressure, and temperature of Mars, and also information about the surface composition, temperature, and topography of the planet. When Mariner 9 first arrived, Mars was almost totally obscured by dust storms, which persisted for a month. However, after the dust cleared, Mariner 9 proceeded to reveal a very different planet–one that boasted enormous volcanoes and a gigantic canyon stretching 3,000 miles across its surface. The spacecraft’s cameras also recorded what appeared to be dried riverbeds, suggesting the ancient presence of water and perhaps life on the planet. The first spacecraft to orbit a planet other than earth, Mariner 9 sent back more than 7,000 pictures of the “Red Planet” and succeeded in photographing the entire planet. Mariner 9 also sent back the first close-up images of the Martian moon. Its transmission ended on October 27, 1972.
1982 – Spain became NATO’s 16th member, the first country to enter the Western alliance since West Germany in 1955.
1990 – Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in Washington, D.C., for three days of talks with President George Bush. The summit meeting centered on the issue of Germany and its place in a changing Europe. When Gorbachev arrived for this second summit meeting with President Bush, his situation in the Soviet Union was perilous. The Soviet economy, despite Gorbachev’s many attempts at reform, was rapidly reaching a crisis point. Russia’s control over its satellites in Eastern Europe was quickly eroding, and even Russian republics such as Lithuania were pursuing paths of independence. Some U.S. observers believed that in an effort to save his struggling regime, Gorbachev might try to curry favor with hard-line elements in the Russian Communist Party. That prediction seemed to be borne out by Gorbachev’s behavior at the May 1990 summit. The main issue at the summit was Germany. By late 1989, the Communist Party in East Germany was rapidly losing its grip on power; the Berlin Wall had come down and calls for democracy and reunification with West Germany abounded. By the time Gorbachev and Bush met in May 1990, leaders in East and West Germany were making plans for reunification. This brought about the question of a unified Germany’s role in Europe. U.S. officials argued that Germany should become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Soviets adamantly opposed this, fearful that a reunified and pro-western Germany might be a threat to Russian security. Gorbachev indicated his impatience with the U.S. argument when he declared shortly before the summit that, “The West hasn’t done much thinking,” and complained that the argument concerning German membership in NATO was “an old record that keeps playing the same note again and again.” The Gorbachev-Bush summit ended after three days with no clear agreement on the future of Germany. Russia’s pressing economic needs, however, soon led to a breakthrough. In July 1990, Bush promised Gorbachev a large economic aid package and vowed that the German army would remain relatively small. The Soviet leader dropped his opposition to German membership in NATO. In October 1990, East and West Germany formally reunified and shortly thereafter joined NATO.
1995 – In a letter to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic demanded guarantees of no further NATO air attacks and de facto recognition of a self-styled Serb state.
1996 – The CGC Yocona was decommissioned in Kodiak, Alaska. She had been in Coast Guard service since 1946.
1999 – Astronauts from the space shuttle “Discovery” rigged cranes and other tools to the exterior of the international space station during a spacewalk; then, the astronauts entered the orbiting outpost for three days of making repairs and delivering supplies.
2002 – Attorney General John Ashcroft issued new terror-fighting guidelines allowing FBI agents to visit Internet sites, libraries, churches and political organizations as part of an effort to pre-empt terrorist strikes.
2002 – In Oregon 3 of 9 hikers were killed while climbing Mt. Hood. An Air Force Pave Hawk rescue helicopter crashed in an attempt to rescue the climbers.
2003 – President Bush began a 6-nation tour in Krakow, Poland, and brought personal thanks to the country for standing up as a wartime ally in Iraq.
2003 – The US government lowered the terrorist threat level from orange to yellow.
2004 – Saudi commandos stormed the expatriate resort of Khobar to free up to 60 foreign hostages seized by Islamic militant gunmen who had attacked oil industry compounds, killing 22 people. Americans were among those killed and taken captive. 3 suspects escaped.
2014 – President Barack Obama accepts Eric Shinseki’s resignation. Obama says he did so with regret, and said that Shinseki offered to step down at a White House meeting with the President so as not to be a distraction going forward. Obama said that Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson will temporarily fill Shinseki’s role as the search is launched for a permanent replacement.
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