1856 – U.S. Army troops from Fort Tejon and Fort Miller prepared to ride out to protect Keyesville, California, from Yokut Indian attack.
1861 – Richmond, Virginia is declared the new capital of the Confederate States of America.
1861 – Confederate Congress passed act recognizing state of war with the United States and authorized the issuing of Letters of Marque to private vessels. President Davis issued instructions to private armed vessels, in which he defined operational limits, directed “strictest regard to the rights of neutral powers.” ordered privateers to proceed “With all … justice and humanity” toward Union vessels and crews, out-lined procedure for bringing in a prize, directed that all property on board neutral ships be exempt from seizure “unless it be contraband,” and defined contraband.
1861 – Arkansas and Tennessee becomes 9th & 10th state to secede from US.
1861 – Members of the 5th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry, take up garrison duties in this fort protecting the entrance to Pensacola Bay. In the early days of the Civil War, men in some southern units objected to being stationed outside of their home states (recall for most of the South the war was mostly over “state rights,” not slavery). Some of the men in this regiment questioned why they had to protect a part of Florida when areas of Louisiana remained vulnerable to Union Navy attack. However, it soon became apparent that if the Confederacy was to have any chance to survive as a separate nation it needed a unified army, regardless of state affiliation. The unit remained here until May 1862 when Union forces captured Pensacola Bay. The 5th Louisiana later joined the Army of Northern Virginia and fought at Antietam in September 1862 and in the Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1864. A few members (“less than 80”) were among the men surrendered at Appomattox in April 1865.
1862 – Union forces occupy Williamsburg, Virginia, during the Peninsular campaign.
1863 – The Battle of Chancellorsville ends with the defeat of the Army of the Potomac by Confederate troops. The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American Civil War, and the principal engagement of the Chancellorsville Campaign. Itbegan April 30 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near the village of Chancellorsville. Two related battles were fought nearby on May 3 in the vicinity of Fredericksburg. The campaign pitted Union Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s Army of the Potomac against an army less than half its size, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Chancellorsville is known as Lee’s “perfect battle” because his risky decision to divide his army in the presence of a much larger enemy force resulted in a significant Confederate victory. The victory, a product of Lee’s audacity and Hooker’s timid decision making, was tempered by heavy casualties and the mortal wounding of Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson to friendly fire, a loss that Lee likened to “losing my right arm.” The Chancellorsville Campaign began with the crossing of the Rappahannock River by the Union army on the morning of April 27, 1863. Union cavalry under Maj. Gen. George Stoneman began a long distance raid against Lee’s supply lines at about the same time. This operation was completely ineffectual. Crossing the Rapidan River via Germanna and Ely’s Fords, the Federal infantry concentrated near Chancellorsville on April 30. Combined with the Union force facing Fredericksburg, Hooker planned a double envelopment, attacking Lee from both his front and rear. On May 1, Hooker advanced from Chancellorsville toward Lee, but the Confederate general split his army in the face of superior numbers, leaving a small force at Fredericksburg to deter Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick from advancing, while he attacked Hooker’s advance with about 4/5ths of his army. Despite the objections of his subordinates, Hooker withdrew his men to the defensive lines around Chancellorsville, ceding the initiative to Lee. On May 2, Lee divided his army again, sending Stonewall Jackson’s entire corps on a flanking march that routed the Union XI Corps. While performing a personal reconnaissance in advance of his line, Jackson was wounded by fire from his own men, and Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart temporarily replaced him as corps commander. The fiercest fighting of the battle—and the second bloodiest day of the Civil War—occurred on May 3 as Lee launched multiple attacks against the Union position at Chancellorsville, resulting in heavy losses on both sides. That same day, Sedgwick advanced across the Rappahannock River, defeated the small Confederate force at Marye’s Heights in the Second Battle of Fredericksburg and then moved to the west. The Confederates fought a successful delaying action at the Battle of Salem Church and by May 4 had driven back Sedgwick’s men to Banks’s Ford, surrounding them on three sides. Sedgwick withdrew across the ford early on May 5, and Hooker withdrew the remainder of his army across U.S. Ford the night of May 5–6. The campaign ended on May 7 when Stoneman’s cavalry reached Union lines east of Richmond.
1864 – Union and Confederate troops continue their desperate struggle in the Wilderness, which was the opening battle in the biggest campaign of the war. General Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union forces, had joined George Meade’s Army of the Potomac to encounter Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the tangled Wilderness forest near Chancellorsville, the site of Lee’s brilliant victory the year before. The fighting was intense, and raging fires that consumed the dead and wounded magnified the horror of battle. But little was gained in the confused attacks by either side. On May 6, the second day of battle in the Wilderness, Grant sought to break the stalemate by sending Winfield Hancock’s corps against the Confederate right flank at the southern end of the battle line. The Federals were on the verge of breaking through the troops of James Longstreet when they stumbled in the dense undergrowth. Lee entered the fray to rally the Confederate troops, but his devoted solders urged him away from the action. Later in the morning, Longstreet’s men attacked Hancock’s forces and seemed poised to turn the Union flank. But, like the Union troops earlier, they became disoriented as they drove Hancock’s troops back. In the confusion, Longstreet was wounded by his own men, just four miles from the spot where Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded by his own men the year before. The Confederate attack halted when Hancock’s men found refuge behind hastily constructed breastworks. In the evening, Lee attacked the Union flank at the northern end of the battlefield and nearly turned the Federal line. Grant’s men, however, held their ground, leaving the exhausted armies in nearly the same positions as when the battle began. In two days, the Union lost 17,000 men to the Confederates’ 11,000. This was nearly one-fifth of each army. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. Grant pulled his men out of the Wilderness on May 7, but, unlike the commanders before him in the eastern theater, he did not go back. He moved further south towards Spotsylvania Court House and closer to Richmond. At Spotsylvania, the armies staged some of the fiercest fighting of the war.
1864 – General Sherman began to advance on Atlanta.
1864 – U.S.S. Dawn, Acting Lieutenant John W. Simmons, transported soldiers to capture a signal station at Wilson’s Wharf, Virginia. After landing the troops two miles above the station, Simmons proceeded to Sandy Point to cover the attack. When the soldiers were momentarily halted, a boat crew from Dawn spearheaded the successful assault.
1864 – U.S.S. Eutaw, Osceola, Pequot, Shokokon, and General Putnam, side-wheelers of Rear Admiral Lee’s North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, supported the landing of troops at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia.
1877 – Chief Crazy Horse surrendered to U.S. troops in Nebraska. Crazy Horse brought General Custer to his end.
1916 – First ship-to-shore radio telephone voice conversation from USS New Hampshire off Virginia Capes to SECNAV Josephus Daniels in Washington, DC.
1935 – The Works Progress Administration (WPA), threw open its doors and given the monumental task of sending scores of unemployed Americans back to work. Perhaps the key program of the New Deal, President Franklin Roosevelt’s “alphabet soup” of government agencies aimed at alleviating the damage wrought by the Great Depression, the WPA handed Americans decent-paying jobs on a myriad of public works projects. It was a renamed and expanded effort of the Hoover administration, the Emergency Relief Administration, ERA, briefly renamed FERA (add Federal to the front) with it’s biggest difference being that the WPA was run directly by the Federal government, while ERA/FERA funded state and local programs. Workers employed via the agency constructed a head-spinning array of public structures, including parks, playgrounds, schools, post-offices and National Guard armories. And, through its creatively inclined arms (the Federal Art Project and Federal Theater Project), the WPA set painters, actors, musicians and writers to work on public arts projects that depicted the lives of America’s workers. All told, the WPA (which was renamed the Works Projects Administration in 1939) was responsible for employing 8.5 million Americans during its eight-year tenure. Despite these considerable fruits, the WPA was an expensive program–the agency spent roughly $11 billion during its lifetime–which prompted attacks from more penurious voices in the nation. In addition, the WPA refused to allow job training–workers had to bring skills with them–and so WPA was closed to unskilled labor and did not lead to better job opportunities for those who could participate. Workers were limited to 30 hours a week, and wages were set by a regional prevailing wage standard. Corruption was common. Kentucky WPA workers were used in electioneering, enforced registration in the Democratic party, and diversion of pay to political campaigns. Similar cases were documented in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Illinois. By the summer of 1943, World War II had almost entirely usurped the efforts of America’s work force, and the WPA was permanently closed.
1935 – The first flight of the Curtiss P-36 Hawk. The Curtiss P-36 Hawk, also known as the Curtiss Hawk Model 75, was an American-designed and built fighter aircraft of the 1930s and 40s. A contemporary of both the Hawker Hurricane and Messerschmitt Bf 109, it was one of the first of a new generation of combat aircraft—a sleek monoplane design making extensive use of metal in its construction and powered by a powerful radial engine. Perhaps best known as the predecessor of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, the P-36 saw little combat with the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. It was nevertheless the fighter used most extensively and successfully by the French Armee de l’air during the Battle of France. The P-36 was also ordered by the governments of the Netherlands and Norway, but did not arrive in time to see action over either country, before both were occupied by Nazi Germany. The type was also manufactured under license in China, for the Republic of China Air Force, as well as in British India, for the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF). Axis and co-belligerent air forces also made significant use of captured P-36s. Following the fall of France and Norway in 1940, several dozen P-36s were seized by Germany and transferred to Finland; these aircraft saw extensive action with the Ilmavoimat (Air Force) against the Soviet Air Forces. The P-36 was also used by Vichy French air forces in several minor conflicts; in one of these, the Franco-Thai War of 1940–41, P-36s were used by both sides. From mid-1940, some P-36s en route for France and the Netherlands were diverted to Allied air forces in other parts of the world. The Hawks ordered by the Netherlands were diverted to the Dutch East Indies and later saw action against Japanese forces. French orders were taken up by British Commonwealth air forces, and saw combat with both the South African Air Force (SAAF) against Italian forces in East Africa, and with the RAF over Burma. Within the Commonwealth, the type was usually referred to as the Curtiss Mohawk. With around 1,000 aircraft built by Curtiss itself, the P-36 was a major commercial success for the company. It also became the basis not only of the P-40, but two other, unsuccessful prototypes: the YP-37 and the XP-42 .
1937 – The airship Hindenburg, the largest dirigible ever built and the pride of Nazi Germany, bursts into flames upon touching its mooring mast in Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36 passengers and crewmembers. Frenchman Henri Giffard constructed the first successful airship in 1852. His hydrogen-filled blimp carried a three-horsepower steam engine that turned a large propeller and flew at a speed of six miles per hour. The rigid airship, often known as the “zeppelin” after the last name of its innovator, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, was developed by the Germans in the late 19th century. Unlike French airships, the German ships had a light framework of metal girders that protected a gas-filled interior. However, like Giffard’s airship, they were lifted by highly flammable hydrogen gas and vulnerable to explosion. Large enough to carry substantial numbers of passengers, one of the most famous rigid airships was the Graf Zeppelin, a dirigible that traveled around the world in 1929. In the 1930s, the Graf Zeppelin pioneered the first transatlantic air service, leading to the construction of the Hindenburg, a larger passenger airship. On May 3, 1937, the Hindenburg left Frankfurt, Germany, for the first of 10 scheduled journey’s across the Atlantic to Lakehurst’s Navy Air Base. On its maiden voyage, the Hindenburg, stretching 804 feet from stern to bow, carried 36 passengers and crew of 61. While attempting to moor at Lakehurst, the airship suddenly burst into flames, probably after a spark ignited its hydrogen core. Rapidly falling 200 feet to the ground, the hull of the airship incinerated within seconds. Thirteen passengers, 21 crewmen, and 1 civilian member of the ground crew lost their lives, and most of the survivors suffered substantial injuries. Radio announcer Herb Morrison, who came to Lakehurst to record a routine voice-over for an NBC newsreel, immortalized the Hindenberg disaster in a famous on-the-scene description in which he emotionally declared, “Oh, the humanity!” The recording of Morrison’s commentary was immediately flown to New York, where it was aired as part of America’s first coast-to-coast radio news broadcast. Lighter-than-air passenger travel rapidly fell out of favor after the Hindenberg disaster, and no rigid airships survived World War II.
1941 – Bob Hope (b. May 29, 1903) began broadcasting his first USO radio show from March Field at Riverside, Ca. The United Service Organizations (USO) began operations this year and provided free coffee, donuts, and entertainment to US military forces. The organization is supported entirely by private citizens and corporations.
1941 – The first flight of the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the largest and heaviest fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single piston engine. It was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to eight tons, and in the fighter-bomber ground-attack roles could carry five-inch rockets or a significant bomb load of 2,500 pounds; it could carry more than half the payload of the B-17 bomber on long-range missions (although the B-17 had a far greater range). The P-47, based on the powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine—the same engine used by two very successful U.S. Navy fighters, the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought F4U Corsair—was to be very effective as a short-to-medium range escort fighter in high-altitude air-to-air combat and, when unleashed as a fighter-bomber, proved especially adept at ground attack in both the World War II European and Pacific Theaters. The P-47 was one of the main United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) fighters of World War II, and served with other Allied air forces, notably those of France, Britain, and Russia. Mexican and Brazilian squadrons fighting alongside the U.S. were equipped with the P-47. The armored cockpit was roomy inside, comfortable for the pilot, and offered good visibility. A modern-day U.S. ground-attack aircraft, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, takes its name from the P-47
1942 – U.S. Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright surrenders all U.S. troops in the Philippines to the Japanese. The island of Corregidor remained the last Allied stronghold in the Philippines after the Japanese victory at Bataan (from which General Wainwright had managed to flee, to Corregidor). Constant artillery shelling and aerial bombardment attacks ate away at the American and Filipino defenders. Although still managing to sink many Japanese barges as they approached the northern shores of the island, the Allied troops could hold the invader off no longer. General Wainwright, only recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and commander of the U.S. armed forces in the Philippines, offered to surrender Corregidor to Japanese General Homma, but Homma wanted the complete, unconditional capitulation of all American forces throughout the Philippines. Wainwright had little choice given the odds against him and the poor physical condition of his troops (he had already lost 800 men). He surrendered at midnight. All 11,500 surviving Allied troops were evacuated to a prison stockade in Manila. General Wainwright remained a POW until 1945. As a sort of consolation for the massive defeat he suffered, he was present on the USS Missouri for the formal Japanese surrender ceremony on September 2, 1945. He would also be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman. Wainwright died in 1953-exactly eight years to the day of the Japanese surrender ceremony.
1942 – CAPT Milton Miles arrives in Chungking, China, to begin building an intelligence and guerilla training organization, Naval Group China.
1943 – In Tunisia, US forces advance on three axes toward Bizerta, Ferryville and Protville.
1944 – A Japanese troopship convoy is destroyed by the American submarine Gurnard.
1944 – The first flight of the Mitsubishi A7M fighter (designed to replace the Zero) takes place. Technical problems and Allied bombing raids prevent mass production.
1945 – The US 97th Division, part of US 5th Corps of the US 3rd Army, occupies Pilsen in Czechoslovakia. The US 12th Corps advances toward Prague but the army is ordered to halt the advance and allow Soviets to occupy the rest of the country as has been arranged.
1945 – On Luzon, elements of the US 25th Division, part of US 1st Corps, capture the Kembu plateau. On Mindanao, the US 24th and 31st Divisions overrun Japanese positions north of Davao, where the Japanese 35th Army (General Morozumi) is concentrated.
1945 – On Okinawa, the Japanese offensive loses momentum. Japanese forces have sustain losses of at least 5000 killed. Even while it has been going on, American forces have made gains near Machinto airfield and Maeda Ridge.
1945 – Axis Sally made her final propaganda broadcast to Allied troops.
1945 – The Coast Guard-manned frigate USS Moberly (PF-63), in concert with USS Atherton, sank the U-853 in the Atlantic off Block Island. There were no survivors.
1945 – Naval landing force evacuates 500 Marshallese from Jaluit Atoll, Marshall Islands.
1953 – Planes from the carriers Princeton and Valley Forge blasted a mining area northwest of Songjin, causing numerous secondary explosions and destroying buildings and a main transformer station. The heavy cruiser Saint Paul and the destroyer Nicholas fired on coastal supply routes and storage areas.
1955 – West Germany joined NATO.
1962 – In the first test of its kind, the submerged submarine USS Ethan Allen fired a Polaris missile armed with a nuclear warhead that detonated above the Pacific Ocean.
1962 – Pathet Lao broke cease fire and conquered Nam Tha Laos.
1967 – Three US pilots shot down during a raid over Hanoi are paraded through the streets of that city. North Vietnam says the three pilots are based in Thailand.
1967 – Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, in a report to President Johnson, describes an encouraging turnout in recent village council elections. he estimates that 77 percent of eligible voters in participating villages cast ballots.
1969 – A US helicopter crashes 75 miles north of Saigon killing 34 and injuring 35 in what is believed to be the worst helicopter accident of the war. To this date, 2,595 helicopters have been lost.
1970 – More than 100 universities across the US shut down as thousands of students join a nationwide campus protest. Governor Ronald Reagan closes down the entire California university and college system until 11 may, involving more than 280,000 students on 28 campuses. A National Student Association spokesman reports that more than 300 campuses are boycotting classes.
1970 – Three new fronts are opened in Cambodia bringing to nearly 50,000 the number of allied troops there. One US spearhead, by troops of the 25th Infantry Division, moves across the border from Tayninh Province between the Fishhook and Parrot’s Beak areas. The US First Cavalry Division (Airmobile) is airlifted into the jungles 23 miles west of Phocbinh, South Vietnam, northeast of the Fishhook.
1972 – The remnants of South Vietnam’s 5th Division at An Loc continue to receive daily artillery battering from the communist forces surrounding the city as reinforcements fight their way from the south up Highway 13. The South Vietnamese had been under heavy attack since the North Vietnamese had launched their Nguyen Hue Offensive on March 30. The communists had mounted a massive invasion of South Vietnam with 14 infantry divisions and 26 separate regiments, more than 120,000 troops and approximately 1,200 tanks and other armored vehicles. The main North Vietnamese objectives, in addition to An Loc in the south, were Quang Tri in the north, and Kontum in the Central Highlands. In Binh Long Province, the North Vietnamese forces had crossed into South Vietnam from Cambodia on April 5 to strike first at Loc Ninh. After taking Loc Ninh, the North Vietnamese forces then quickly encircled An Loc, the capital of Binh Long Province, which was only 65 miles from Saigon. The North Vietnamese held An Loc under siege for almost three months while they made repeated attempts to take the city, bombarding it around the clock. The defenders suffered heavy casualties, including 2,300 dead or missing, but with the aid of U.S. advisers and American airpower, they managed to hold out against vastly superior odds until the siege was lifted on June 18. Fighting continued all over South Vietnam into the summer months, but eventually the South Vietnamese forces prevailed against the invaders and they retook Quang Tri in September. With the communist invasion blunted, President Nixon declared that the South Vietnamese victory proved the viability of his Vietnamization program, which he had instituted in 1969 to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces.
1968 – Astronaut Neil Armstrong was nearly killed in a lunar module trainer accident.
1981 – A jury of architects and sculptors unanimously selects Maya Ying Lin’s design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial from 1,421 other entries.
1981 – US expelled Libyan diplomats.
1990 – Freed American hostage Frank Reed said at a news conference in Arlington, Va., that he had been savagely beaten by his captors in Lebanon after two unsuccessful escape attempts.
1993 – The space shuttle “Columbia” landed safely in California after a 10-day mission.
1993 – The Bosnian Serb parliament, for the third time, rejected a U.N. peace plan for Bosnia-Herzegovina. The president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, ordered a blockade of all supplies, except food and medicine, to the Bosnian Serbs.
1994 – The last HH-3F Pelican helicopter in Coast Guard service was retired. This ended the Coast Guard’s “amphibious era,” as no aviation asset left in service was capable of making water landings.
1995 – In London, thousands of World War II veterans celebrated the 50th anniversary of V-E Day.
1996 – The body of former CIA director William Colby is found washed up on a riverbank in southern Maryland, eight days after he disappeared.
1997 – Sergeant Delmar Simpson received a 25 year sentence for raping 6 female trainees at the Aberdeen, Md., Proving Ground Army base.
1999 – Russia joined NATO to back a framework for ending the conflict in Kosovo that included an international security presence to enforce peace.
1999 – Electricity was restored in Belgrade as NATO air strikes continued in Yugoslavia. A main railroad bridge was destroyed near the Romanian border and oil depots in Nis were hit.
2002 – Two mailbox pipe bombs were found in Colorado and another one in Nebraska.
2002 – In Afghanistan the CIA fired a missile from a Predator in an attempt to kill Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, head of Hezb-e-Islami, and his top aides outside Kabul.
2004 – Pres. Bush told King Abdullah II of Jordan that he was sorry for the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by US guards.
2004 – An audio recording attributed to Osama bin Laden offered rewards in gold for the killing of top U.S. and U.N. officials in Iraq or of the citizens of any nation fighting there.
2004 – U.S. soldiers backed by tanks and armored fighting vehicles seized control of the governor’s office from Shiite militiamen in the city of Najaf.
2011 – The United States Coast Guard closes a section of the Mississippi River near Caruthersville, Missouri due to heavy flooding.
2014 – Despite the clamor for Shinseki’s ouster, White House spokesman Jay Carney says Obama “remains confident in Secretary Shinseki’s ability to lead the department and take appropriate action.” Shinseki tells the Wall Street Journal he will not resign.
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