1846 – Naval forces capture Tampico, Mexico. This will be a staging point for the coming action against Vera Cruz.
1862 – President Lincoln approves of General Ambrose Burnside’s plan to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia. This was an ill-fated move, as it led to the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, in which the Army of the Potomac was dealt one of its worst defeats at the hands of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Lincoln approved Burnside’s plan just five days after Burnside assumed command of the army. The general had replaced George McClellan, who led the force for more than a year. McClellan’s tenure was marked by sharp disagreements with the administration and sluggishness in the field. Although McClellan was successful against Lee at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, Lincoln removed him from command because of McClellan’s reluctance to attack the Confederate army in Virginia. After McClellan was removed, Burnside stepped up to take his shot at Lee. His plan called for the Army of the Potomac to move 40 miles to Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River. From there, his troops would advance south to the Confederate capital of Richmond. Lincoln appreciated the fact that Burnside’s plan protected Washington, D.C. In spring 1862, McClellan had sailed the army down the Chesapeake Bay and landed it on the James Peninsula for an attempt on Richmond, a move that left the Union capital dangerously exposed. However, Lincoln and general in chief Henry Halleck were concerned that Burnside was focused solely on capturing Richmond; they believed that the goal should be to destroy Lee’s army. However, Burnside’s plan was an improvement over McClellan’s operations. Lincoln approved the plan but warned Burnside that action needed to be taken quickly. By early December, Burnside had the army in motion. When the Yankees reached Fredericksburg, however, they experienced delays in crossing the Rappahannock, which allowed Lee to move his forces into place above the city. On December 13, Burnside made a series of doomed attacks and the Army of the Potomac suffered one of the most costly and demoralizing defeats of the war.
1863 – Gen Nathan Bedford Forrest was assigned to command of West Tennessee.
1863 – There was a skirmish at Danville, Mississippi.
1881 – Charles J. Guiteau went on trial for assassinating President Garfield. Guiteau was convicted and hanged the following year.
1908 – Joseph McCarthy was born. He became an anti-Communist Senator from Wisconsin who gave the name “McCarthyism” to his communist witch-hunts.
1910 – Civilian Eugene Ely, was the first to take off in an airplane from the deck of a ship, USS Birmingham (CL-2) . He flew from the Birmingham at Hampton Roads to Norfolk. It was a Curtiss plane flown by Eugene Ely, a company exhibition pilot, that made the first successful takeoff from a Navy ship.
1921 – The Cherokee Indians asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their claim to 1 million acres of land in Texas.
1930 – Edward H White II, San Antonio Texas, Lt Col USAF, astronaut (Gemini 4), was born. He received flight training in Florida and Texas, following his graduation from West Point. He then spent 3-1/2 years in Germany with a fighter squadron, flying F-86’s and F-100’s. He attended the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 1959. White was later assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as an experimental test pilot with the Aeronautical Systems Division. In this assignment he made flight tests for research and weapons systems development, wrote technical engineering reports, and made recommendations for improvement in aircraft design and construction. He logged more than 3,000 hours flying time, including more than 2,200 hours in jet aircraft. White was named as a member of the astronaut team selected by NASA in September 1962. He was pilot for Gemini 4, which was a 66-revolution, 4-day mission that began on June 3, and ended on June 7, 1965. During the third revolution, he carried out the first extra vehicular activity in the United States manned space flight program. He was outside Gemini 4 for 21 minutes, and became the first man to control himself in space during EVA with a maneuvering unit. Other highlights of the mission included cabin depressurization, opening of cabin doors, and 12 scientific and medical experiments. He received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the U.S. Air Force Senior Astronaut Wings for this Flight. On March 21, 1966, he was named as one of the pilots of the AS-204 mission, the first 3-man Apollo flight. Lieutenant Colonel White died on January 26, 1967, in the Apollo spacecraft flash fire during a launch pad test at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
1935 – President Roosevelt proclaimed the Philippine Islands a free commonwealth. Manuel Luis Quezon was sworn in as the first Filipino president, as the Commonwealth of Philippines was inaugurated.
1941 – Order to withdraw Marines at Shanghai, Peiping, and Tientsin, China.
1942 – Off the coast of Guadalcanal, Admiral Tanaka turns south with his destroyers and transports and comes under heavy air attack from both Henderson Field and planes from the USS Enterprise. Seven of the transports and two warships are lost. He continues his advance throughout the night and manages to sail his remaining transports to Tassafaronga. However, more of the Japanese troops are killed by air attack while disembarking. Meanwhile, the second battle of Guadalcanal gets underway shortly before midnight. The Japanese covering force supporting the convoy, led by Admiral Kondo ( with the battleship Kirishima, four cruisers and nine destroyers), encounters US Task Force 64, under the command of Admiral Lee ( with the battleships Washington and South Dakota and four destroyers). The battle begins with damage to the South Dakota. It is forced from the battle. A seven minute burst of fire from the USS Washington sinks the Kirishima. Control of the seas around Guadalcanal is passing to the Americans. Supply problems are mounting for the Japanese, who will now be forced to make considerable use of submarines to transport supplies. Already many of the Japanese troops are ill and hungry.
1942 – French General Barre, begins the movement of his troops away from the coastal towns in preparation for switching to the Allied side.
1943 – An American torpedo was mistakenly fired at the U.S. battleship Iowa, which was carrying President Roosevelt and his joint chiefs to the Tehran conference; the torpedo exploded harmlessly in the Iowa’s wake.
1943 – On Bougainville the American divisions push back the Japanese along the jungle tracks. A few American tanks are available for support.
1944 – Carrier aircraft attack Japanese shipping in Philippines sinking five ships and damaging one.
1951 – United States and Yugoslavia signed a military aid pact. In a surprising turn of events, President Harry Truman asks Congress for U.S. military and economic aid for the communist nation of Yugoslavia. The action was part of the U.S. policy to drive a deeper wedge between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia ended World War II with the communist forces of Josip Broz Tito in control. The United States supported him during the war when his group battled against the Nazi occupation. In the postwar period, as Cold War hostilities set in, U.S. policy toward Yugoslavia hardened. Tito was viewed as simply another tool of Soviet expansion into eastern and southern Europe. In 1948, however, Tito openly broke with Stalin, though he continued to proclaim his allegiance to the communist ideology. Henceforth, he declared, Yugoslavia would determine and direct its own domestic and foreign policies without interference from the Soviet Union. U.S. officials quickly saw a propaganda opportunity in the fallout between the former communist allies. Although Tito was a communist, he was at least an independent communist who might prove a useful ally in Europe. To curry favor with Tito, the United States supported Yugoslavia’s efforts in 1949 to gain a seat on the prestigious Security Council at the United Nations. In 1951, President Truman asked Congress to provide economic and military assistance to Yugoslavia. This aid was granted. Yugoslavia proved to be a Cold War wild card, however. Tito gave tacit support to the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, but harshly criticized the Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968. While the United States admired Tito for his independent stance, he could sometimes be a bit too independent. During the 1950s and 1960s he encouraged and supported the nonalignment movement among Third World nations, a policy that concerned American officials who were intent on forcing those nations to choose sides in the East-West struggle. Relations between the United States and Yugoslavia warmed considerably after Tito’s denunciation of the Czech intervention, but cooled again when he sided with the Soviets during the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1973. Tito died in 1980.
1952 – Thirty-seven service members returning from rest and recuperation leave in Japan and seven crew members were killed in the crash of a C-119 transport near Seoul.
1960 – President Dwight Eisenhower ordered U.S. naval units into the Caribbean after Guatemala and Nicaragua charged Castro with starting uprisings.
1960 – OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), formed.
1961 – President Kennedy increased the number of American advisors in Vietnam from 1,000 to 16,000.
1965 – In the first major engagement of the war between regular U.S. and North Vietnamese forces, elements of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) fight a pitched battle with Communist main-force units in the Ia Drang Valley of the Central Highlands. On this morning, Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore’s 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry conducted a heliborne assault into Landing Zone X-Ray near the Chu Pong hills. Around noon, the North Vietnamese 33rd Regiment attacked the U.S. troopers. The fight continued all day and into the night. American soldiers received support from nearby artillery units and tactical air strikes. The next morning, the North Vietnamese 66th Regiment joined the attack against the U.S. unit. The fighting was bitter, but the tactical air strikes and artillery support took their toll on the enemy and enabled the 1st Cavalry troopers to hold on against repeated assaults. At around noon, two reinforcing companies arrived and Colonel Moore put them to good use to assist his beleaguered soldiers. By the third day of the battle, the Americans had gained the upper hand. The three-day battle resulted in 834 North Vietnamese soldiers confirmed killed, and another 1,000 communist casualties were assumed. In a related action during the same battle, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, was ambushed by North Vietnamese forces as it moved overland to Landing Zone Albany. Of the 500 men in the original column, 150 were killed and only 84 were able to return to immediate duty; Company C suffered 93 percent casualties, half of them deaths. Despite these numbers, senior American officials in Saigon declared the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley a great victory. The battle was extremely important because it was the first significant contact between U.S. troops and North Vietnamese forces. The action demonstrated that the North Vietnamese were prepared to stand and fight major battles even though they might take serious casualties. Senior American military leaders concluded that U.S. forces could wreak significant damage on the communists in such battles–this tactic lead to a war of attrition as the U.S. forces tried to wear the communists down. The North Vietnamese also learned a valuable lesson during the battle: by keeping their combat troops physically close to U.S. positions, U.S. troops could not use artillery or air strikes without risking injury to American troops. This style of fighting became the North Vietnamese practice for the rest of the war.
1965 – US government sent 90,000 soldiers to Vietnam.
1967 – Maj. Gen. Bruno Hochmuth, commander of the 3rd Marine Division, is killed when the helicopter in which he is travelling is shot down. He was the most senior U.S. officer to be killed in action in the war to date.
1969 – Apollo 12, the second manned mission to the surface of the moon, is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr.; Richard F. Gordon, Jr.; and Alan L. Bean aboard. President Richard Nixon viewed the liftoff from Pad A at Cape Canaveral. He was the first president to attend the liftoff of a manned space flight. Thirty-six seconds after takeoff, lightning struck the ascending Saturn 5 launch rocket, which tripped the circuit breakers in the command module and caused a power failure. Fortunately, the launching rocket continued up normally, and within a few minutes power was restored in the spacecraft.On November 19, the landing module Intrepid made a precision landing on the northwest rim of the moon’s Ocean of Storms. About five hours later, astronauts Conrad and Bean became the third and fourth humans to walk on the surface of the moon. During the next 32 hours, the two astronauts made two lunar walks, where they collected lunar samples and investigated the Surveyor 3 spacecraft, an unmanned U.S. probe that soft-landed on the moon in 1967. On November 24, Apollo 12 successfully returned to Earth, splashing down only three miles from one of its retrieval ships, the USS Hornet.
1971 – Mariner 9 enters orbit around Mars. Mariner 9 (Mariner Mars ’71 / Mariner-I) was an unmanned NASA space probe that contributed greatly to the exploration of Mars and was part of the Mariner program. Mariner 9 was launched toward Mars on May 30, 1971 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and became the first spacecraft to orbit another planet — only narrowly beating the Soviet’s Mars 2 and Mars 3, which both arrived within a month. After months of dust storms it managed to send back clear pictures of the surface. Mariner 9 returned 7329 images over the course of its mission, which concluded in October 1972.
1972 –One week after his re-election, President Richard Nixon extends to South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu his “absolute assurance” that the United States will “take swift and severe retaliatory action” if Hanoi violates the pending cease-fire once it is in place. Thieu responded with a list of 69 amendments that he wanted added to the peace agreement being worked out in Paris. Nixon instructed Henry Kissinger to present Le Duc Tho, the senior North Vietnamese negotiator in Paris, with Thieu’s amendments. Kissinger protested that the changes were “preposterous” and might destroy chances for the treaty. Despite Kissinger’s concerns, the indication that the peace accords were near completion resulted in the Dow Jones closing above 1,000 for first time. In the end, however, Kissinger was correct and the peace talks became deadlocked and were not resumed until after Nixon ordered the December bombing of North Vietnam.
1979 – US President Jimmy Carter issues Executive order 12170, freezing all Iranian assets in the United States in response to the hostage crisis.
1984 – The Space Shuttle Discovery crew rescued a second satellite.
1986 – White House acknowledges CIA role in secretly shipping weapons to Iran.
1987 – A bomb hidden in a box of chocolates exploded in the lobby of Beirut’s American University Hospital, killing seven people, including the woman who was carrying it.
1989 – The U.S. Navy, alarmed over a recent string of serious accidents, ordered an unprecedented 48-hour stand-down.
1990 – President Bush told congressional leaders he had no immediate plans to go to war in the Persian Gulf.
1990 – PSU 302, staffed by Coast Guard reservists from Cleveland, Ohio, arrived in the Persian Gulf in support of operation Desert Shield. They were stationed in Bahrain.
1991 – U.S. and British authorities announced indictments against two Libyan intelligence officials in connection with the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
1993 – Residents of Puerto Rico voted in a plebiscite to maintain the island’s existing U.S. commonwealth status, derailing the efforts of those favoring statehood.
1994 – President Clinton, in Indonesia, met one-on-one with the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea, winning pledges to keep the pressure on North Korea to freeze its nuclear weapons program.
1994 – U.S. experts visited North Korea’s main nuclear complex for the first time under an accord aimed at opening such sites to outside inspections.
1997 – A jury in Fairfax, Va., decided that Pakistani national Mir Aimal Kasi should get the death penalty for gunning down two CIA employees outside agency headquarters. Kasi was sentenced to death in January 1998.
1997 – Sara Lister, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, resigned in the wake of political pressure after she called Marines “extremists” and made fun of their uniforms.
1998 – Iraq backed down and agreed to submit to UN weapons inspections as US forces were poised for attack.
1999 – UN sanctions against Afghanistan went into effect following the Taliban refusal to turn over Osama bin Laden. Int’l. flights were banned and overseas assets were frozen.
2001 – Pres. Bush welcomed Pres. Putin to his Prairie Chapel Ranch. They continued their talks a day after the two leaders agreed at the White House to reduce their countries’ nuclear stockpiles.
2001 – Attorney Gen. Ashcroft unveiled an overhaul of the INS. Law enforcement and service operations would be split.
2001 – The rout of the Taliban in Afghanistan accelerated with the Islamic militia losing control of Jalalabad in the east, once-loyal Pashtun tribesmen joining in the revolt in the south, and many of their fighters fleeing into the mountains to evade U.S. airstrikes.
2001 – A Special Forces team was inserted north of Kandahar, near the village of Tarin Kowt. There, they linked up with Hamid Karzai and a small number of his followers. Karzai, a charismatic Pashtun tribal leader born near Kandahar, was both pro-western and anti-Taliban, a rare combination. As such, he was vital to U.S. plans for establishing an anti-Taliban front in the region.
2001 – United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1378 which included “Condemning the Taliban for allowing Afghanistan to be used as a base for the export of terrorism by the al-Qaeda network and other terrorist groups and for providing safe haven to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and others associated with them, and in this context supporting the efforts of the Afghan people to replace the Taliban regime”. The United Nations World Food Programme temporarily suspended activities within Afghanistan at the beginning of the bombing attacks but resumed them after the fall of the Taliban.
2001 – Britain pledged 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan in addition to 4,500 already in the war zone.
2002 – Pakistani Aimal Khan Kasi was put to death by injection at a prison in Jarratt, Va., for the slayings of two CIA employees in 1993.
2002 – Diplomats from the United States, European Union, South Korea and Japan decided to cut off the shipments of oil to North Korea in response to its violation of a 1994 nuclear agreement.
2003 – Near Tikrit, Iraq, an Apache helicopter attacked and killed 7 people believed to have been preparing a rocket attack on a US base.
2008 – General Ann E. Dunwoody becomes the first female four-star general in the history of the United States Army.
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