This Day in U.S. Military History…… May 7

7 May
1718 – The city of New Orleans is founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans) was founded by the French Mississippi Company, under the direction of Monsieur de Bienville, on land inhabited by the Chitimacha. It was named for Philippe d’Orléans, Duke of Orléans, who was Regent of the Kingdom of France at the time. His title came from the French city of Orléans. The French colony was ceded to the Spanish Empire in the Treaty of Paris (1763). During the American Revolutionary War, New Orleans was an important port for smuggling aid to the rebels, transporting military equipment and supplies up the Mississippi River. Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez successfully launched a southern campaign against the British from the city in 1779. New Orleans (Spanish: Nueva Orleans) remained under Spanish control until 1801, when it reverted briefly to French oversight. Nearly all of the surviving 18th-century architecture of the Vieux Carré (French Quarter) dates from the Spanish period, the most notable exception being the Old Ursuline Convent. Napoleon sold Louisiana (New France) to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Thereafter, the city grew rapidly with influxes of Americans, French, Creoles, and Africans. Later immigrants were Irish, Germans, and Italians. Major commodity crops of sugar and cotton were cultivated with slave labor on large plantations outside the city.
1763 – Pontiac’s Rebellion begins when a confederacy of Native American warriors under Ottawa chief Pontiac attacks the British force at Detroit. After failing to take the fort in their initial assault, Pontiac’s forces, made up of Ottawas and reinforced by Wyandots, Ojibwas, and Potawatamis, initiated a siege that would stretch into months. As the French and Indian Wars came to an end in the early 1760s, Native Americans living in former French territory found the new British authorities to be far less conciliatory than their predecessors. In 1762, Pontiac enlisted support from practically every Indian tribe from Lake Superior to the lower Mississippi for a joint campaign to expel the British from the formerly French lands. According to Pontiac’s plan, each tribe would seize the nearest fort and then join forces to wipe out the undefended settlements. In April, Pontiac convened a war council on the banks of the Ecorse River near Detroit. It was decided that Pontiac and his warriors would gain access to the British fort at Detroit under the pretense of negotiating a peace treaty, giving them an opportunity to seize forcibly the arsenal there. However, British Major Henry Gladwin learned of the plot, and the British were ready when Pontiac arrived in early May, and Pontiac was forced to begin a siege. At the same time, his allies in Pennsylvania began a siege of Fort Pitt, while other sympathetic tribes, such as the Delaware, the Shawnees, and the Seneca, prepared to move against various British forts and outposts in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. On July 31, a British relief expedition attacked Pontiac’s camp but suffered heavy losses and were repelled in the Battle of Bloody Run. Nevertheless, they had succeeded in providing the fort at Detroit with reinforcements and supplies, which allowed it to hold out against the Indians into the fall. The major forts at Pitt and Niagara likewise held on, but the united tribes captured eight other fortified posts. At these forts, the garrisons were wiped out, relief expeditions were repulsed, and nearby frontier settlements were destroyed. In the spring of 1764, two British armies were sent out, one into Pennsylvania and Ohio under Colonel Bouquet, and the other to the Great Lakes under Colonel John Bradstreet. Bouquet’s campaign met with success, and the Delawares and the Shawnees were forced to sue for peace, breaking Pontiac’s alliance. Failing to persuade tribes in the West to join his rebellion, and lacking the hoped-for support from the French, Pontiac finally signed a treaty with the British in 1766. In 1769, he was murdered by a Peoria Indian while visiting Illinois. His death led to bitter warfare among the tribes, and the Peorias were nearly wiped out.
1769 – Revolution was in the air on this day in 1769, as George Washington launched a legislative salvo at Great Britain’s fiscal and judicial attempts to maintain its control over the American colonies. With his sights set on the British policy of “taxation without representation,” Washington brought a package of non-importation resolutions before the Virginia House of Burgesses. The resolutions, drafted by George Madison largely in response to England’s passage of the Townshend Act in 1767, also decried parliament’s plan to send American criminals to England for trial. Though Virginia’s Royal Governor promptly fired back by disbanding the House of Burgesses, the revolutionaries were undeterred: during a makeshift meeting held at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia’s delegates gave their support the non-importation resolutions. As a result, Virginia sealed off a good chunk of its trade with England pending the repeal of the Townshend Acts. This proved to be a contagious maneuver, as the other American colonies spent the summer adopting their own non-importation resolutions.
1779 – Continental Navy sloop Providence captures British brig Diligent off Cape Charles
1792 – Capt. Robert Gray discovered Gray’s Harbor in Washington state.
1800 – Congress divided the Northwest Territory into two parts. The western part became the Indiana Territory and the eastern sections remained the Northwest Territory.
1862 – At the Battle of Eltham’s Landing in Virginia, Confederate troops struck Union troops in the Shenandoah Valley.
1862 – U.S.S. Wachusett, Commander W. Smith, U.S.S. Chocura, and Sebago escorted Army transports up the York River, supported the landing at West Point, Virginia, and countered a Confederate attack with accurate gunfire. U.S.S. Currituck, Acting Master William F. Shankland, sent on a reconnaissance of the Pamunkey River by Smith on the 6th, captured American Coaster and Planter the next day. Shankland reported that some twenty schooners had been sunk and two gunboats burned by the Confederates above West Point.
1864 – Following two days of intense fighting in the Wilderness forest, the Army of the Potomac, under the command of Union General Ulysses S. Grant, moves south. Grant’s forces had clashed with Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in a pitched and confused two-day battle in which neither side gained a clear victory. Nonetheless, Lee could claim an advantage, since he inflicted more casualties and held off the Yankees, despite the fact that he was outnumbered. When Lee halted Grant’s advance, Grant proved that he was different than previous commanders of the Army of the Potomac by refusing to fall back. Many of his veteran soldiers expected to retreat back across the Rapidan River, but the order came down through the ranks to move the army south. The blue troops had just suffered terrible losses, and the move lifted their spirits. “We marched free. The men began to sing,” recalled one Yankee. In some ways, warfare would never be the same. Grant had promised President Abraham Lincoln that there would be no turning back on this campaign. He would aggressively pursue Lee without allowing the Confederates time to retool. But the cost was high: Weeks of fighting resulted in staggering casualties before the two armies dug in around Petersburg by the middle of June.
1864 – Steamers U.S.S. Sunflower, Acting Master Edward Van Sice, and Honduras, Acting Master John H. Platt, and sailing bark J. L. Davis, Acting Master William Fales, supported the capture of Tampa, Florida, in a combined operation. The Union ships carried the soldiers to Tampa and provided a naval landing party which joined in the assault. Van Sice reported of the engagement: “At 7 A.M. the place was taken possession of, capturing some 40 prisoners, the naval force capturing about one-half, which were turned over to the Army, and a few minutes after 7 the Stars and Stripes were hoisted in the town by the Navy.” The warships also captured blockade running sloop Neptune on 6 May with cargo of cotton.
1873 – US marines attacked Panama.
1877 – Indian chief Sitting Bull entered Canada with a trail of Indians after the Battle of Little Big Horn.
1915 – British ocean liner Lusitania is torpedoed without warning by a German submarine off the south coast of Ireland. Within 20 minutes, the vessel sank into the Celtic Sea. Of 1,959 passengers and crew, 1,198 people were drowned, including 128 Americans. The attack aroused considerable indignation in the United States, but Germany defended the action, noting that it had issued warnings of its intent to attack all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain. When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that the vast majority of Americans favored. Britain, however, was one of America’s closest trading partners, and tension soon arose between the United States and Germany over the latter’s attempted quarantine of the British isles. Several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines, and in February 1915 Germany announced unrestricted submarine warfare in the waters around Britain. In early May 1915, several New York newspapers published a warning by the German embassy in Washington that Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so at their own risk. The announcement was placed on the same page as an advertisement of the imminent sailing of the Lusitania liner from New York back to Liverpool. The sinkings of merchant ships off the south coast of Ireland prompted the British Admiralty to warn the Lusitania to avoid the area or take simple evasive action, such as zigzagging to confuse U-boats plotting the vessel’s course. The captain of the Lusitania ignored these recommendations, and at 2:12 p.m. on May 7 the 32,000-ton ship was hit by an exploding torpedo on its starboard side. The torpedo blast was followed by a larger explosion, probably of the ship’s boilers, and the ship sunk in 20 minutes. It was revealed that the Lusitania was carrying about 173 tons of war munitions for Britain, which the Germans cited as further justification for the attack. The United States eventually sent three notes to Berlin protesting the action, and Germany apologized and pledged to end unrestricted submarine warfare. In November, however, a U-boat sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. Public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany. On January 31, 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced that it would resume unrestricted warfare in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted to declare war against Germany, and two days later the House of Representatives endorsed the declaration. With that, America entered World War I.
1934 – USS Constitution completes tour of principal U.S. ports
1939 – Germany and Italy announced a military and political alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.
1940 – There is a major debate in the House of Commons on the conduct of the war and especially of the Norwegian campaign. At the vote Chamberlain’s government has a majority of 281-200 but when compared to former support this is not sufficient to allow the government to continue to claim to be representative. Neville Chamberlain resigns. In fact the errors of the Norwegian campaign have been at least as much Churchill’s as any others. However, in a wider sense the responsibility is Chamberlain’s for failing to to establish a coherent decision-making structure to see that plans were properly coordinated and that subordinates worked sensibly and efficiently.
1940 – FDR orders Pacific Fleet to remain in Hawaiian waters indefinitely
1942 – Battle of the Coral Sea: American Admiral Fletcher sends Task Force 44 to attack Japanese troop transports bound for Port Moresby. The Japanese retaliate with attacks from land based aircraft. The Japanese also sight the American tanker Neosho and the Sims, they send aircraft after the ships and the Neosho is sunk. The Americans find Japanese Admiral Goto’s close support force and they proceed to sink the carrier Shoho. Meanwhile, Japanese Admiral Takagi sends planes out in an attempt to find the American fleet. Twenty-one of the Japanese planes are lost without engaging the enemy, including a small group which attempt to land on the American aircraft carrier Yorktown. The Japanese troop transports return to Rabaul to await the outcome of the battle.
1942 – General Wainwright broadcasts the news of the American surrender at Corregidor from Japanese custody. He invites the remainder of the American forces in the Philippines to surrender. Despite the American surrender, the opposition faced by Japanese forces has been effective in disrupting their plans. General Homma was allocated 50 days to take the Philippines, the actual conquest took five months. The continuing resistance of the Filipino forces has prevented the release of his troops for other campaigns.
1943 – Tunis and Bizerta are both captured in the afternoon by British and American forces, respectively. The Axis defenses can no longer contain the Allied pressure.
1943 – Americans lay mines in the waters around New Georgia to prevent Japanese supplies reaching the island.
1944 – The US 15th Air Force and British Bomber Command attack railway yards in Bucharest during the day and night, leaving the city in flames.
1944 – The US 8th Air Force conducts a massive raid on Berlin with 1500 aircraft.
1944 – The US 9th Air Force attacks the railway yards at Mezieres-Charleville with Marauders and P-38 Lightnings.
1944 – Elements of the US 46th Division occupy Cape Hopkins Airfield in the Bismarck Archipelago. There is no Japanese resistance encountered.
1945 – At 0141, General Alfred Jodl, signs the unconditional surrender of all German forces, East and West, at Reims, in northwestern France. At first, General Jodl hoped to limit the terms of German surrender to only those forces still fighting the Western Allies. But General Dwight Eisenhower demanded complete surrender of all German forces, those fighting in the East as well as in the West. If this demand was not met, Eisenhower was prepared to seal off the Western front, preventing Germans from fleeing to the West in order to surrender, thereby leaving them in the hands of the enveloping Soviet forces. Jodl radioed Grand Admiral Karl Donitz, Hitler’s successor, with the terms. Donitz ordered him to sign. So with Russian General Ivan Susloparov and French General Francois Sevez signing as witnesses, and General Walter Bedell Smith, Ike’s chief of staff, signing for the Allied Expeditionary Force, Germany was-at least on paper-defeated. Fighting would still go on in the East for almost another day. But the war in the West was over. Since General Susloparov did not have explicit permission from Soviet Premier Stalin to sign the surrender papers, even as a witness, he was quickly hustled back East-into the hands of the Soviet secret police, never to be heard from again. Alfred Jodl, who was wounded in the assassination attempt on Hitler on July 20, 1944, would be found guilty of war crimes (which included the shooting of hostages) at Nuremberg and hanged on October 16, 1946-then granted a pardon, posthumously, in 1953, after a German appeals court found Jodl not guilty of breaking international law.
1945 – On Luzon, the US 43rd Division advances about 5 miles toward Ipo. American troops attacking towards a ridge near Guagua are repulsed by Japanese defenders.
1945 – On Okinawa, the US 7th Division completes the elimination of Japanese units that infiltrated into the Tanabaru area. Fruitless attacks on the Japanese held Shuri Line continue.
1947 – General MacArthur approved the Japanese constitution.
1951 – The Air Force’s 3rd Air Rescue Squadron recovered its 50th behind-the-lines downed airman.
1952 – Communist prisoners rioting at Koje-do held the U.N. commander, Brigadier General Francis T. Dodd, hostage until May 11. At Panmunjom both sides announced a stalemate over the prisoner of war issue.
1952 – The concept of the integrated circuit, the basis for all modern computers, is first published by Geoffrey W.A. Dummer.
1953 – Communist negotiators at Panmunjom presented an eight-point proposal regarding the repatriation of POWs, including the establishment of a Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission.
1954 – US, Great Britain and France rejected Russian membership in NATO.
1954 – In northwest Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh forces decisively defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu, a French stronghold besieged by the Vietnamese communists for 57 days. The Viet Minh victory at Dien Bien Phu signaled the end of French colonial influence in Indochina and cleared the way for the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel at the conference of Geneva. On September 2, 1945, hours after the Japanese signed their unconditional surrender in World War II, communist leader Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam, hoping to prevent the French from reclaiming their former colonial possession. In 1946, he hesitantly accepted a French proposal that allowed Vietnam to exist as an autonomous state within the French Union, but fighting broke out when the French tried to reestablish colonial rule. Beginning in 1949, the Viet Minh fought an increasingly effective guerrilla war against France with military and economic assistance from newly Communist China. France received military aid from the United States. In November 1953, the French, weary of jungle warfare, occupied Dien Bien Phu, a small mountain outpost on the Vietnamese border near Laos. Although the Vietnamese rapidly cut off all roads to the fort, the French were confident that they could be supplied by air. The fort was also out in the open, and the French believed that their superior artillery would keep the position safe. In 1954, the Viet Minh army, under General Vo Nguyen Giap, moved against Dien Bien Phu and in March encircled it with 40,000 Communist troops and heavy artillery. The first Viet Minh assault against the 13,000 entrenched French troops came on March 12, and despite massive air support, the French held only two square miles by late April. On May 7, after 57 days of siege, the French positions collapsed. Although the defeat brought an end to French colonial efforts in Indochina, the United States soon stepped up to fill the vacuum, increasing military aid to South Vietnam and sending the first U.S. military advisers to the country in 1959.
1960 – Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announces that his nation is holding American U-2 pilot Gary Powers.
1963 – The United States launched the Telstar II communications satellite. It made the first public transatlantic broadcast.
1965 – 6,000 Marines of the 4th marine Division are sent to Chu Lai, a sandy pine barren along the coast 55 miles south of Danang to build a second jet air base. Chu Lai will sport a new type of field, the Short Airfield for Tactical Support (SATS) — a 4,000 foot long airstrip of aluminum matting with arrestor wires like an aircraft carrier. Initially all planes will take off via jet assist, but a catapult will be installed two years later. By 1 June, A-4 Skyhawks and MAG-12ss will be using the field.
1975 – President Ford issues a proclamation designating this a the last day of the ‘Vietnam Era’ for military personnel to qualify for wartime benefits.
1975 – The Viet Cong celebrated the takeover of Ho Chi Minh City — formerly Saigon.
1979 – During a city-wide strike by tugboat operators and longshoremen in New York City that began on 1 April 1979, Mayor Ed Koch of New York asked for federal assistance. The Secretary of Transportation, Brock Adams, at the behest of President Jimmy Carter, ordered the Commandant, ADM John B. Hayes, to direct the commanding officer of the Third Coast Guard District, VADM Robert I. Price, “to cooperate with Mayor Koch in the movement of sanitation barges within the harbor.” Beginning on 7 May 1979, the cutters Sauk, Manitou and Red Beech began moving 16 garbage scows from a Staten Island landfill site to refuse pick-up points in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Although the Group received an anonymous bomb threat that proved to be a hoax, the towing effort was carried out without incident. These three cutters were relieved of “garbage duty” in June by the cutters Snohomish and Chinook.
1984 – Federal District Judge Jack B. Weinstein announces a $180 million out-of-court settlement against seven chemical manufacturers of the defoliant Agent Orange in a class-action suit brought by 15,000 Vietnam veterans. At least 40,000 veterans are involved in various suits against these companies, with potential claimants in the hundreds of thousands.
1992 – Astronaut and Coast Guard CDR Bruce Melnick made his second space flight when he served as a Mission Specialist aboard the space shuttle Endeavour on her maiden flight, Space Shuttle Mission STS-49, which flew from 7 to 16 May 1992. During this mission, astronauts rescued and repaired the Intelsat VI satellite. Melnick, by this point, had logged more than 300 hours in space.
1992 – A 203-year-old proposed constitutional amendment barring Congress from giving itself a midterm pay raise received enough votes for ratification as Michigan became the 38th state to approve it.
1996 – The first international war crimes proceeding since Nuremberg opened at The Hague in the Netherlands, with a Serbian police officer, Dusan Tadic, facing trial on murder-torture charges. A year later, he was convicted of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
1997 – The Army accused its top enlisted man, Army Sgt. Maj. Gene McKinney, of sexual misconduct. At his court-martial, McKinney was acquitted of sexual misconduct, but found guilty of obstruction of justice.
1999 – NATO bombs hit a residential area in Nis and at least 15 people were killed and 60 wounded. NATO bombs hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and 3 people were killed and [20] 21 injured. An outdated map was blamed for the embassy bombing. The British Observer later reported that NATO bombed the Embassy because it was being used to transmit Yugoslav military communications. British, NATO and US officials denied the story. In 2000 the US CIA fired one officer and reprimanded 6 others for the bombing. President Clinton called the attack a “tragic mistake.”
2002 – Lucas John Helder (21) of Pine Island, Minn., was arrested following a car chase near Lovelock, Nevada, and charged for the recent series of mailbox pipe bombs. Helder said he was trying to make a “smiley face” pattern on the map of his bombings.
2003 – President Bush ordered U.S. sanctions against Iraq lifted, allowing U.S. humanitarian aid and remittances to flow into Iraq.
2004 – Donald Rumsfeld, US Defense Secretary, testified before Congress for 6 hours and apologized for Iraqi prisoner abuse by US soldiers.
2004 – The CGC James Rankin set the historic “Francis Scott Key” buoy off of Fort McHenry, Maryland, near the Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland. The buoy marks the spot where the British warship on which Francis Scott Key, the author of the Star Spangled Banner, was held aboard during the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the Royal Navy during the War of 1812. Each year the buoy is set in the spring, marking the historic location of the event, and is then removed in the fall.
2004 – American businessman Nick Berg is beheaded by Islamic militants. The act is recorded on videotape and released on the Internet.
2007 – A group of six radical Islamist men, allegedly plotting to stage an attack on the Fort Dix military base in New Jersey, United States, were arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They were subsequently charged with planning an attack against U.S. soldiers. The alleged aim of the six men was said to be to “kill as many soldiers as possible”. Five of the men arrested, according to news reports, intended to attack the Fort Dix military base and kill as many servicemen as they could. The sixth man arrested, Abdullahu, has been charged with aiding and abetting in the possession of firearms by the Duka brothers. The group revealed to the FBI informant (a conversation which was recorded) that the five other men intended to “hit a heavy concentration of soldiers […] You hit four, five or six Humvees and light the whole place [up] and retreat completely without any losses”. The men attempted to purchase weapons from an FBI informant, including AK-47s, M16s, M60s, rocket propelled grenades, rockets, semi-automatic Sig Sauer 9 mm handguns, Smith & Wesson 9 mm, C-4 plastic explosive, and nitroglycerin. The informant told them that the weapons would come from an underground military dealer from Baltimore, Maryland who had recently returned from Egypt.
2009 – The private military company Xe (formerly Blackwater Worldwide) ends its operations in Baghdad, Iraq.
2009 – Somali pirates hijack the Netherlands’ MV Marathon and attack the U.S. Navy cargo ship USNS Lewis and Clark which took evasive action to prevent a successful attack. Suspected pirates then fired small arms weapons from approximately two nautical miles toward Lewis and Clark, which fell one nautical mile short of the ship’s stern. Lewis and Clark continued to increase speed and the skiffs ceased their pursuit of the U.S. ship.

Leave a Reply

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