1754 – The first American newspaper political cartoon was published. The illustration in Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette showed a snake cut into sections, each part representing an American colony; the caption read, “Join or die.”
1763 – The Siege of Fort Detroit begins during Pontiac’s War against British forces. The siege was an ultimately unsuccessful attempt by North American Indians to capture Fort Detroit during Pontiac’s Rebellion. The siege was led primarily by Pontiac, an Odawa chief and military leader. On April 27, 1763, Pontiac had spoken at a council on the shores of the Ecorse River, at what is now known as Council Point Park in Lincoln Park, Michigan, about 10 miles (15 km) southwest of Detroit. Using the teachings of Neolin to inspire his listeners, Pontiac convinced a number of Ottawas, Ojibwas, Potawatomis, and Hurons to join him in an attempt to seize Fort Detroit and drive out the British. On May 7, Pontiac entered the fort with about 300 men, armed with weapons hidden under blankets, determined to take the fort by surprise. However, the British commander Henry Gladwin had apparently been informed of Pontiac’s plan, and the garrison of about 120 men was armed and ready. Pontiac withdrew and, two days later, laid siege to the fort. A number of British soldiers and civilians in the area outside the fort were captured or killed; one of the soldiers was ritually cannibalized, as was the custom in some Great Lakes Indian cultures. The violence was directed only at the British: French colonists were left alone. Eventually more than 900 Indian warriors from a half-dozen tribes joined the siege. Late in July, 260 British reinforcements under the command of Captain James Dalyell arrived at Fort Detroit. On July 31, 1763, about 250 men attempted to make a surprise attack on Pontiac’s encampment. Pontiac was ready and waiting with over 400 warriors, and defeated the British at the Battle of Bloody Run. However, the situation at the fort remained a stalemate, and Pontiac’s influence among his followers began to wane. Groups of Indians began to abandon the siege, some of them making peace with the British before departing. On October 31, 1763, finally convinced that the French in Illinois would not come to his aid, Pontiac lifted the siege and traveled south to the Maumee River, where he continued his efforts to rally resistance against the British.
1813 – U.S. troops under William Henry Harrison rescued Fort Meigs from British and Canadian troops.
1846 – US forced Mexico back to Rio Grande in the Battle of Resaca de la Palma.
1846 – Gen. Mariano Arista crossed the Rio Grande and killed a number of US soldiers in a surprise attack. Mexico believed that France and Britain would support it in a war against the US.
1862 – Battle of Ft. Pickens, FL (Pensacola), evacuated by CSA.
1862 – Battle of Farmington, Missouri.
1862 – U.S.S. Constitution Lieutenant G. W. Rodgers, and U.S. steamer Baltic Lieutenant C.R.P. Rodgers, arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, with officers and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy. The Naval Academy remained there for the duration of the war.
1862 – USRC Miami landed President Abraham Lincoln on Confederate-held soil the day before the fall of Norfolk. President Lincoln himself, after talking to pilots and studying charts, reconnoitered to the east-ward of Sewell’s Point and found a suitably unfortified landing site near Willoughby Point. The troops embarked in transports that night. The next morning they landed near the site selected by the President. The latter, still afloat, from his “command ship” Miami ordered U.S.S. Monitor to reconnoiter Sewell’s Point to learn if the batteries were still manned. When he found the works abandoned, President Lincoln ordered Major General Wool’s troops to march on Norfolk, where they arrived late on the afternoon of the 10th.
1863 – Captain Case, commanding U.S.S. Iroquois, reported that the Confederates were mounting guns on the northern faces of Fort Fisher at Wilmington. ”They appear, he wrote Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, ”to be large caliber.” This defensive strengthening of the Southern position was in keeping with the view voiced by Lieutenant John Taylor Wood, CSN, in a 14 February 1863, letter to President Davis concerning the defenses of Wilmington: ”The batteries covering the water approaches, as far as I am able to judge, are well placed and admirably constructed. But the great want, the absolute necessity of the place if it is to be held against naval attack, is heavy guns, larger caliber.” So well did the Confederates do their job that Fort Fisher successfully dominated Cape Fear until the massive amphibious operation in January 1865.
1864 – Union General John Sedgwick was shot and killed by a confederate sharpshooter during fighting at Spotsylvania, Va. His last words before getting hit were “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”
1864 – Union troops secure a crucial pass during the Atlanta campaign. In the spring and summer of 1864, Union General William T. Sherman and Confederate General Joseph Johnston conducted a slow and methodical campaign to seize control of Atlanta. Pushing southeast from Chattanooga toward Atlanta, Sherman continually tried to flank Johnston, but Johnston countered each move. On May 3, 1864, two of Sherman’s corps moved against Confederate defenses at Dalton, while another Yankee force under James McPherson swung wide to the south and west of Dalton in an attempt to approach Johnston from the rear. It was along this path that McPherson captured Snake Creek Gap, a crucial opening in a long elevation called Rocky Face Ridge. On one hand, seizure of the strategic pass was a brilliant Union victory. Rocky Face Ridge was a key geographic feature for Johnston and his army. It was a barrier against Sherman’s army that could neutralize the superior numbers of Federal troops. When the Yankees captured the gap, Johnston had to pull his men much further south where the terrain did not offer such advantages. But securing Snake Creek Gap was also a missed opportunity for the Union. McPherson had a chance to cut directly into the Confederate rear but encountered what he judged to be strong Rebel defenses at Resaca. Union troops reached the Western and Atlantic Railroad, Johnston’s supply line, but they did not have adequate numbers to hold the railroad, and did not have enough time to cut the line. McPherson halted his advance on Resaca and fell back to the mouth of Snake Creek Gap, causing Sherman to complain for years later that McPherson was timid and had lost the chance to route the Confederates. The campaign would eventually be successful, but the failure to secure or destroy the Confederate supply line prolonged the campaign, possibly by months.
1864 – Battle of Cloyd’s Mt. and Swift Creek, VA (Drewry’s Bluff, Ft. Darling).
1913 – The 17th amendment to the Constitution, providing for the election of US senators by popular vote rather than selection by state legislatures, was ratified.
1916 – President Woodrow Wilson mobilizes the National Guard of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to patrol their borders with Mexico as Brigadier General John J. Pershing led an Army expedition into northern Mexico to try to capture or kill the bandit leader Pancho Villa and his group. In March, Villa and his men raided the town of Columbus, NM, killing a number of soldiers and civilians before slipping back across the border. Soon these Guardsmen would be joined by Guard units coming from all the states to a total 158,000 men. While their main mission was to secure the border the Army used this partial mobilization to train the Guard in large unit formations almost impossible to conduct in normal peacetime exercises for just a few days. This training paid great dividends when America committed its Guardsmen to combat in France after our entry in World War I.
1926 – Americans Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett made the first flight over the North Pole. Two teams of aviators competed to be the first to fly over the North Pole. American Navy Lt. Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd and pilot Floyd Bennett claimed victory when they circled the North Pole. On May 11, in spite of his disappointment, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen launched the dirigible Norge on its planned flight, not merely over the pole, but all the way across the Arctic to Alaska. As depicted in a painting by aviation artist Don Connolly, Byrd and Bennett in Josephine Ford briefly accompanied Norge in a gesture of goodwill. Amundsen reached Alaska on May 14, but even today experts suspect that faulty navigation caused Byrd to miss the North Pole. Later archivists determined that Byrd was probably 150 miles short of the pole. His tri-motor Fokker monoplane named Josephine Ford probably came within 2.25 degrees of the pole.
1941 – The German submarine U-110 was captured at sea by the Royal Navy, revealing considerable Enigma material. Enigma was the German machine used to encrypt messages during World War II.
1942 – USS Icarus, CG, sank the U-352 off Charleston and took 33 prisoners, the first German prisoners taken in combat by any US force in World War II.
1942 – 64 Spitfires are successfully delivered to Malta by naval forces including the USS Wasp and the HMS Eagle. This time, the planes are quickly refueled and rearmed and there is no destruction on the ground as with the previous delivery. The USS Wasp returns to service in the United States after this operation.
1944 – Japanese forces skirmish with American forces on the beachheads around Hollandia.
1944 – Allied air forces begin large scale raids on airbases in France as part of the preparation for the D-Day invasion.
1945 – U.S. officials announced that the midnight entertainment curfew was being lifted immediately.
1945 – Herman Goering, commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, president of the Reichstag, head of the Gestapo, prime minister of Prussia, and Hitler’s designated successor is taken prisoner by the U.S. Seventh Army in Bavaria. Goering was an early member of the Nazi Party and was wounded in the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. That wound would have long-term effects; Goering became increasingly addicted to painkillers. Not long after Hitler’s accession to power, Goering was instrumental in creating concentration camps for political enemies. Ostentatious and self-indulgent, he changed his uniform five times a day and was notorious for flaunting his decorations, jewelry, and stolen artwork. It was Goering who ordered the purging of German Jews from the economy following the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, initiating an “Aryanization” policy that confiscated Jewish property and businesses. Goering’s failure to win the Battle of Britain and prevent the Allied bombing of Germany led to his loss of stature within the Party, aggravated by the low esteem with which he was always held by fellow officers because of his egocentrism and position as Hitler’s right-hand man. As the war progressed, he dropped into depressions and battled drug addiction. When Goering fell into U.S. hands after Germany’s surrender, he had in his possession a rich stash of pills. He was tried at Nuremberg and charged with various crimes against humanity. Despite a vigorous attempt at self acquittal, he was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, but before he could be executed, he committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide tablet he had hidden from his guards.
1945 – On Luzon, forces of the US 145th Infantry Regiment, an element of US 11th Corps, captures Mount Binicayan and patrols into the Guagua area. On Mindanao, the US 24th Division continues to defend its bridgehead over the Talomo river against Japanese counterattacks but fails to build a bridge. The US 31st Division breaks off its attacks in the Colgan woods to allow air and artillery strikes on the Japanese positions.
1945 – On Okinawa, the US 1st Marine Division captures Height 60 after eliminating Japanese positions on Nan Hill. The US 77th Division continues attacks on Japanese strong points north of Shuri. The Kochi Crest area has been secured by American forces.
1951 – Three hundred and twelve Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy planes hit Sinuiju Airfield in one of the largest air raids of the war.
1955 – Ten years after the Nazis were defeated in World War II, West Germany formally joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense group aimed at containing Soviet expansion in Europe. This action marked the final step of West Germany’s integration into the Western European defense system. Germany had been a divided nation since 1945. The Americans, British, and French held zones of occupation in Western Germany and West Berlin; the Soviets controlled Eastern Germany and East Berlin. Although publicly both the Americans and the Soviets proclaimed their desire for a reunited and independent Germany, it quickly became apparent that each of these Cold War opponents would only accept a reunified Germany that served their own nation’s specific interests. In 1949, the Americans, British, and French combined their zones of occupation in West Germany to establish a new nation, the Federal Republic of Germany. The Soviets responded by setting up the German Democratic Republic in East Germany. On May 5, 1955, the American, French, and British forces formally ended their military occupation of West Germany, which became an independent country. Four days later, West Germany was made a member of NATO. For U.S. policymakers, this was an essential step in the defense of Western Europe. Despite the reluctance of some European nations, such as France, to see a rearmed Germany–even as an ally–the United States believed that remilitarizing West Germany was absolutely vital in terms of setting up a defensive perimeter to contain any possible Soviet attempts at expansion. The Soviet response was immediate. On May 14, 1955, the Soviet Union established the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance between Russia and its Eastern European satellites-including East Germany. The entrance of West Germany into NATO was the final step in integrating that nation into the defense system of Western Europe. It was also the final nail in the coffin as far as any possibility of a reunited Germany in the near future. For the next 35 years, East and West Germany came to symbolize the animosities of the Cold War. In 1990, Germany was finally reunified; the new German state remained a member of NATO.
1962 – A laser beam was successfully bounced off Moon for the first time.
1964 – An insurgent is captured trying to place an explosive charge under a Saigon bridge over which Secretary McNamara’s car is to pass on 12 May.
1968 – President Thieu declares that even if the US should negotiate an end to the war, his government will never recognize the National Liberation Front.
1968 – The US Army announces that the 101st Airborne Division will be converted into an airmobile division, and that each of the five other divisions in Vietnam will be reinforced by separate reconnaissance squadrons.
1969 – William Beecher, military correspondent for the new York Times, publishes a one-page dispatch from Washington, ‘Raids in Cambodia by US Unprotested,’ which accurately describes the first of recent B-52 raids in Cambodia. Within hours, Henry Kissinger, presidential assistant for national security affairs, contacts J. Edgar hoover, the director of the FBI, asking him to find the government sources of Beecher’s article. During the next two years, Alexander Haig, a key Kissinger assistant, will transmit the names of national Security Council staff members and reporters who are to have their telephones wiretapped by the FBI.
1970 – Thirty US gunboats join a flotilla of 110 South Vietnamese craft in a thrust up the Mekong River in an attempt to neutralize enemy sanctuaries along a 45 mile stretch of river between the South Vietnamese border and Phnompenh. The US vessels will move no further then Neak Long, in compliance with the US policy of limiting US penetration of Cambodia to 21.7 miles.
1972 – US Senate Democrats, reacting to the President’s May 8 address, pass a resolution “disapproving of the escalation of the war in Vietnam” and includes a cutoff of war funds.
1974 – The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee opens impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon, voting to impeach him on three counts on July 30. The impeachment was the result of the scandal involving the bungled burglary of the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 1972. Eventually, it was learned that there was a criminal cover-up that went all the way to the White House. Nixon, facing the impeachment proceedings, resigned the presidency on August 8, 1974. His resignation had a major impact on the situation in Vietnam. Nixon had convinced South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to consent to the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords by personally promising (on more than 30 occasions) that the United States would re-enter the conflict if the North Vietnamese violated the peace agreement. However, when Nixon resigned, his successor, Gerald R. Ford, was not able to keep Nixon’s promises. Ford could not, despite Thieu’s desperate pleas for help, get Congress to appropriate significant funds to help the South Vietnamese. Having lost its sole source of aid and support, South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnamese in April 1975.
1991 – President Bush met at the White House with UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, who relayed Iraq’s rejection of a US-backed proposal for a UN civilian force in northern Iraq.
1993 – The White House said President Clinton had directed Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher to contact U.S. allies to discuss how they could ensure Serbia’s promise to cut supplies to the Bosnian Serbs.
1996 – In dramatic video testimony to a hushed courtroom in Little Rock, Ark., President Clinton insisted he had nothing to do with a $300,000 loan at the heart of the criminal case against his former Whitewater partners.
1997 – Twenty-two years and 10 days after the fall of Saigon, former Florida Representative Douglas “Pete” Peterson becomes the first ambassador to Vietnam since Graham Martin was airlifted out of the country by helicopter in late April 1975. Peterson himself served as a U.S. Air Force captain during the Vietnam War and was held as a prisoner of war for six and a half years after his bomber was shot down near Hanoi in 1966. Thirty-one years later, Peterson returned to Hanoi on a different mission, presenting his credentials to Communist authorities in the Vietnamese capital on May 9, 1997. Normalization with America’s old enemy began in early 1994, when U.S. President Bill Clinton announced the lifting of the 19-year-old trade embargo against Vietnam, citing the cooperation of Vietnam’s Communist government in helping the United States locate the 2,238 Americans still listed as missing in action during the Vietnam War. Despite the lifting of the embargo, high tariffs remained on Vietnamese exports pending the country’s qualification as a “most favored nation,” a U.S. trade-status designation that Vietnam could earn after broadening its program of free-market reforms. In July 1995, the Clinton administration established full diplomatic relations with Vietnam. In making the decision, Clinton was advised by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, an ex-navy pilot who spent five years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi. Brushing aside criticism of Clinton’s decision by some Republicans, McCain asserted that it was time for America to normalize relations with its old enemy. In 1996, Clinton terminated the combat zone designation for Vietnam and nominated Democratic Congressman Pete Peterson as the first U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Confirmed by Congress in the next year, Ambassador Peterson began his mission to Vietnam on May 9, 1997. In November 2000, Clinton became the first president to visit Vietnam since Richard Nixon’s 1969 trip to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
1999 – NATO struck artillery and mortar positions along with armored vehicles and Serbian troops in Kosovo.
1999 – China announced that it was breaking off diplomatic contacts with Washington on human rights and arms control along with contacts on weapons proliferation and int’l. security due to the bombing of its embassy in Belgrade. Furious Chinese demonstrators hurled rocks and debris into the U.S. Embassy in a second day of protests against NATO’s bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia.
2001 – China sought U.S. understanding for its refusal to allow a damaged U.S. Navy spy plane to fly home, saying public sentiment would be outraged if the aircraft flew again over Chinese territory.
2003 – The US and its allies asked the UN Security Council to legitimize their occupation of Iraq and sought permission to use revenue from the world’s second-largest oil reserves to rebuild the war-battered country.
2003 – In northern Iraq 3 U.S. soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed into the Tigris River.
2004 – In Chad 2 days of fighting broke out as the army battled Islamic militants near a remote village on the country’s western border with Niger, killing 43 “terrorists” of a group suspected of links with al-Qaida. Chad’s defense minister said hundreds of Arab militiamen from Sudan had raided a village inside Chad, setting off gun battles with the army that killed dozens of fighters.
2004 – U.S. and British troops clashed with forces of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for a second day. 4 Iraqis were killed in an explosion in a Baghdad market. Militants loyal to al-Sadr took over Sadr City.
2005 – Iran admits to having converted thirty-seven tons of raw uranium into a gas, a key step in uranium enrichment.
2014 – The scheduling scandal widens as a Cheyenne, Wyoming, VA employee is placed on administrative leave after an email surfaces in which the employee discusses “gaming the system a bit” to manipulate waiting times. The suspension comes a day after a scheduling clerk in San Antonio admitted to “cooking the books” to shorten apparent waiting times. Three days later, two employees in Durham, North Carolina, are placed on leave over similar allegations.
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