This Day in U.S. Military History…… November 12

12 November
1439 – Plymouth, England, becomes the first town incorporated by the English Parliament.
1602 – The Vizcaino expedition held Mass on the feast day of San Diego de Alcala. He named the California landing port after the saint.
1775 – General Washington forbade the enlistment of blacks.
1861 – Fingal (later C.S.S. Atlanta ), purchased in England, entered Savannah laden with military supplies– the first ship to run the blockade solely on Confederate government account.
1863 – Confederate General James Longstreet arrived at Loudon, Tennessee to assist the attack on Union General Ambrose Burnside’s troops at Knoxville.
1864 – A boat expedition from U.S.S. Hendrick Hudson, Acting Lieutenant Charles H. Rockwell, and U.S.S. Nita, Acting Lieutenant Robert B. Smith, attempted to destroy Confederate salt works on a reconnaissance near Tampa Bay, Florida, but the sailors were driven back to their boats by Southern cavalry.
1864 – Union General William T. Sherman orders the business district of Atlanta destroyed before he embarks on his famous March to the Sea. When Sherman captured Atlanta in early September 1864, he knew that he could not remain there for long. His tenuous supply line ran from Nashville, Tennessee, through Chattanooga, then one hundred miles through mountainous northern Georgia. The army he had just defeated, the Army of Tennessee, was still in the area and its leader, John Bell Hood, swung around Atlanta to try to damage Sherman’s lifeline. Of even greater concern was the Confederate cavalry of General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest was a brilliant commander who could strike quickly against the railroads and river transports on which Sherman relied. During the fall, Sherman conceived of a plan to split his enormous army. He sent part of it, commanded by General George Thomas, back toward Nashville to deal with Hood while he prepared to take the rest of the troops across Georgia. Through October, Sherman built up a massive cache of supplies in Atlanta. He then ordered a systematic destruction of Atlanta to prevent the Confederates from recovering anything once the Yankees had abandoned the city. By one estimate, 37 percent of the city was ruined. This was the same policy Sherman would apply to the rest of Georgia as he marched to Savannah. Before leaving on November 15, Sherman’s forces had burned the industrial district of Atlanta and left little but a smoking shell.
1867 – After more than a decade of ineffective military campaigns and infamous atrocities, a conference begins at Fort Laramie to discuss alternative solutions to the “Indian problem” and to initiate peace negotiations with the Sioux. The United States had been fighting periodic battles with Sioux and Cheyenne tribes since the 1854. That year, the Grattan Massacre inspired loud calls for revenge, though largely unjustified, against the Plains Indians. Full-scale war erupted on the plains in 1864, leading to vicious fighting and the inexcusable Sand Creek Massacre, during which Colorado militiamen killed 105 Cheyenne women and children who were living peacefully at their winter camp. By 1867, the cost of the war against the Plains Indians, the Army’s failure to achieve decisive results, and news of atrocities like those at Sand Creek turned the American public and U.S. Congress against the Army’s aggressive military solution to the “Indian problem.” Concluding that peaceful negotiations were preferable to war, the attendees at the Fort Laramie conference initiated talks with the Sioux. The talks bore results the following year when U.S. negotiators agreed to abandon American forts on the Bozeman Trail in Wyoming and Montana, leaving the territory in the hands of the Sioux. However, the promise of peace on the central plains was fleeting. Concern about wars between the different Indian tribes led the U.S. to renege on its promise to provide guns to the Cheyenne, and the angry Indians took revenge on Kansas settlements by killing 15 men and raping five women. By late 1868, American soldiers were again preparing for war on the Plains.
1912 – Robert Scott’s diary and dead body were found in Antarctica.
1912 – LT Theodore Ellyson makes first successful launching of an airplane (A-3) by catapult at the Washington Navy Yard.
1923 – Adolf Hitler was arrested for his Nov 8 attempted German coup.1927 – Josef Stalin became the undisputed ruler of the Soviet Union as Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party.
1940 – CNO Admiral Stark submits memorandum to Secretary of the Navy on 4 plans if U.S. enters war. He favors the fourth one, Plan Dog, calling for strong offensive in the Atlantic and defense in the Pacific.
1942 – The World War II naval Battle of Guadalcanal began. A large American convoy carrying supplies and reinforcements retreats upon the approach of a large Japanese naval force. The Japanese carry out air attacks on the American land positions as well as their shipping.
1943 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt embarks on USS Iowa (BB-61) to go to the Allied conferences at Teheran, Iran, and Cairo, Egypt.
1943 – The Japanese carrier aircraft stationed at Rabaul on New Britain are withdrawn. Of the 173 planes committed, 121 have been lost, with many pilots.
1943 – The US 5th Army assault on the Reinhard Line fails to achieve any further progress. The British 56th Division (part of 10th Corps, US 5th Army) is forced to withdraw from some positions on Monte Camino.
1944 – U.S. fighters wiped out a Japanese convoy near Leyte, consisting of six destroyers, four transports, and 8,000 troops.
1948 – An international war crimes tribunal in Tokyo passes death sentences on seven Japanese military and government officials, including General Hideki Tojo, who served as premier of Japan from 1941 to 1944. Eight days before, the trial ended after 30 months with all 25 Japanese defendants being found guilty of breaching the laws and customs of war. In addition to the death sentences imposed on Tojo and others principals, such as Iwane Matsui, who organized the Rape of Nanking, and Heitaro Kimura, who brutalized Allied prisoners of war, 16 others were sentenced to life imprisonment. The remaining two of the 25 defendants were sentenced to lesser terms in prison. Unlike the Nuremberg trial of German war criminals, where there were four chief prosecutors representing Great Britain, France, the United States, and the USSR, the Tokyo trial featured only one chief prosecutor–American Joseph B. Keenan, a former assistant to the U.S. attorney general. However, other nations, especially China, contributed to the proceedings, and Australian judge William Flood Webb presided. In addition to the central Tokyo trial, various tribunals sitting outside Japan judged some 5,000 Japanese guilty of war crimes, of whom more than 900 were executed.
1951 – The U.S. Eighth Army in Korea was ordered to cease offensive operations and begin an active defense.
1960 – Discoverer XVII was launched into orbit from California’s Vandenberg AFB. The Discoverer Program (1959-1962) was a ruse to conceal the Corona Program, a series of photoreconnaissance spy satellites. Corona was the first photoreconnaissance program, and a precursor of the military and civilian space imaging programs of today.
1960 – A coup against South Vietnam president Ngo Dinh Diem failed.
1969 – The US Army admitted to the 1968 Vietnam massacre of civilians at My Lai and announced an investigation of Lt William Calley for massacre of civilians at the Vietnamese village on March 16, 1968. The number of civilians who were killed numbered at least 100. Lt. Calley was later found guilty of murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor. Calley was the only person ever charged in connection with the events at My Lai. The nation was shocked and divided by the claims from Calley that he was following orders and that he was a scapegoat. President Richard Nixon in 1971 ordered him released from prison and placed under house arrest, and finally a federal judge threw out all charges against Calley and ordered him freed. Although the charges were later re-instated on appeal, he served no more jail time for the massacre at My Lai.
1971 – President Richard Nixon sets February 1, 1972, as the deadline for the withdrawal of an additional 45,000 U.S. troops. U.S. troop withdrawals had begun in the fall of 1969. After the February withdrawals were complete, the total U.S. force strength in South Vietnam was 139,000. Nixon said that most offensive activities were now being undertaken entirely by the South Vietnamese and that U.S. ground forces were “now in defensive positions.” He further stated that 80 percent of the forces that were in Vietnam when he took office had come home, and that American casualties had dropped to less than 10 a week.
1979 – President Carter announced an immediate halt to all imports of Iranian oil and freezes Iranian assets in US.
1980 – The U.S. space probe Voyager 1 came within 77,000 miles of Saturn. More than three years after its launch, the U.S. planetary probe Voyager 1 edges within 77,000 miles of Saturn, the second-largest planet in the solar system. The photos, beamed 950 million miles back to California, stunned scientists. The high-resolution images showed a world that seemed to confound all known laws of physics. Saturn had not six, but hundreds of rings. The rings appeared to dance, buckle, and interlock in ways never thought possible. Two rings were intertwined, or “braided,” and pictures showed dark radial “spokes” moving inside the rings in the direction of rotation. Voyager 2, a sister spacecraft, arrived at Saturn in August 1981. The Voyagers also discovered three new moons around Saturn and a substantial atmosphere around Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Voyager 1 was preceded to Saturn by Pioneer 11, a smaller and less sophisticated U.S. spacecraft that flew by the gas giant in September 1979. The Voyager spacecrafts were equipped with high-resolution television cameras that sent back more than 30,000 images of Saturn, its rings, and satellite. Voyager 1 was actually launched 16 days after Voyager 2, but its trajectory followed a quicker path to the outer planets. Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter in March 1979, followed by Voyager 2 four months later. Both spacecraft then continued on to Saturn, with Voyager 1 arriving in November 1980 and Voyager 2 in August 1981. Voyager 2 was then diverted to the remaining gas giants, arriving at Uranus in January 1986 and Neptune in August 1989. Voyager 1, meanwhile, studied interplanetary space and continued on to the edge of the solar system. In February 1998, Voyager 1 became the most distant man-made object from the sun, surpassing the distance of Pioneer 10. Voyager 2 is also traveling out of the solar system but at a slower pace. Both Voyager spacecrafts contain a gold-plated copper disk that has on it recorded sounds and images of Earth. Along with 115 analog images, the disk features sound selections that include greetings in 55 languages, 35 natural and man-made sounds, and portions of 27 musical pieces. The Voyagers are expected to remain operable until about the year 2020, periodically sending back data on the edge of the solar system.
1982 – Space shuttle Columbia launched for its first operational flight. The crew successfully used a remote manipulator arm.
1985 – The Unabomber mailed a pipe bomb to Prof. James V. McConnell of Ann Arbor, Mich. Two people were injured 3 days later when the package was opened, but not McConnell. McConnell and research ass’t. Nick Suing were injured when the bomb exploded.
1990 – Tim Berners-Lee publishes a formal proposal for the World Wide Web.
1991 – Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev told a news conference he’d been warned by President George H.W. Bush and other U.S. officials that a revolt was brewing before hard-liners staged their coup, but that he had discounted their information.
1991 – President George H. W. Bush extends the initial mobilization of all Reserve Component units called in support of Operation Desert Shield from 90-days to 180-days (soon to be increased to 360-days) as the mission changes from defending Saudi Arabia from Iraqi invasion to compelling the Iraqi Army to withdraw from Kuwait. Along with this announcement came his decision to send an additional 200,000 troops (all branches) to the Southwest Asia theater.
1993 – US soldiers wound two Somalis near Mogadishu’s K-4 traffic circle. GIs are fired on by small arms and RPG’s.
1994 – President Clinton arrived in the Philippines to open a campaign for free trade in Asia and to commemorate World War II Allied victories in the Pacific.
1995 – The space shuttle “Atlantis” blasted off on a mission to dock with the Russian space station “Mir.”
1997 – Ramzi Yousef is found guilty of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
1998 – Eight Arab states declared that Iraq would be held responsible for any consequences from its stopping the work of UN arms inspectors.
1999 – In Pakistan several explosions near American structures struck in downtown Islamabad and injured 6 people. It was speculated that Taliban supporters were linked to the blasts.
2000 – On the eve of a federal court hearing on the Florida presidential election, advocates for George W. Bush and Al Gore previewed their legal strategies. Democrats justified painstaking recounts and Republicans said the practice could result in political “mischief” and human error.
2000 – In Florida Palm Beach election officials decided to recount all county votes, some 425,000, by hand.
2001 – Taliban forces fled Kabul under cover of darkness. Northern Alliance forces arrived the following afternoon, encountering a group of about twenty fighters hiding in the city’s park. This group was killed in a 15-minute gun battle. After these forces were neutralized, Kabul was in the hands of coalition forces. The fall of Kabul started a cascading collapse of Taliban positions. Within 24 hours, all Afghan provinces along the Iranian border had fallen, including Herat. Local Pashtun commanders and warlords had taken over throughout northeastern Afghanistan, including Jalalabad. Taliban holdouts in the north, mainly Pakistani volunteers, fell back to the northern city of Kunduz.
2002 – An Arab TV station broadcast an audiotape of Osama bin Laden, a voice that U.S. counter terrorism officials said is probably authentic.
2003 – Imelda Ortiz, a former Mexican consul to Lebanon, was arrested on charges of helping a smuggling ring move Arab migrants into the United States from Mexico. Federal agents over the previous 2 days arrested alleged ring leader Salim Boughader Mucharrafille along with alleged collaborators Melissa Ataja Valdez and Orlando Alfaro, in Tijuana.

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