680 – Imam Hussein, grandson of prophet Mohammed, was beheaded. He was killed by rival Muslim forces on the Karbala plain in modern day Iraq. He then became a saint to Shiite Muslims. Traditionalists and radical guerrillas alike commemorate his martyrdom as the ceremony of Ashura. The 10-day mourning period during the holy month of Muharram commemorates the deaths of Caliph Ali’s male relatives by Sunnis from Iraq.
732 – At Tours, France, Charles Martel killed Abd el-Rahman and halted the Muslim invasion of Europe. Islam’s westward spread was stopped by the Franks at Poitiers.
1798 – Secretary Benjamin Stoddert, first Secretary of the Navy, sent the first instructions to cutters acting in cooperation with the Navy in support of the Quasi-War with France, via the various collectors of customs.
1845 – In Annapolis, Maryland, the Naval School (later renamed the United States Naval Academy) opens with 50 midshipman students and seven professors.
1863 – The Skirmish at Blue Springs, Tennessee, resulted in 166 casualties. Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, commander of the Department of the Ohio, undertook an expedition into East Tennessee to clear the roads and passes to Virginia, and, if possible, secure the saltworks beyond Abingdon. In October, Confederate Brig. Gen. John S. Williams, with his cavalry force, set out to disrupt Union communications and logistics. He wished to take Bull’s Gap on the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad. On October 3, while advancing on Bull’s Gap, he fought with Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Carter’s Union Cavalry Division, XXIII Army Corps, at Blue Springs, about nine miles from Bull’s Gap, on the railroad. Carter, not knowing how many of the enemy he faced, withdrew. Carter and Williams skirmished for the next few days. On October 10, Carter approached Blue Springs in force. Williams had received some reinforcements. The battle began about 10:00 am with Union cavalry engaging the Confederates until afternoon while another mounted force attempted to place itself in a position to cut off a Rebel retreat. Captain Orlando M. Poe, the Chief Engineer, performed a reconnaissance to identify the best location for making an infantry attack. At 3:30 pm, Brig. Gen. Edward Ferrero’s 1st Division, IX Army Corps, moved up to attack, which he did at 5:00 pm. Ferrero’s men broke into the Confederate line, causing heavy casualties, and advanced almost to the enemy’s rear before being checked. After dark, the Confederates withdrew and the Federals took up the pursuit in the morning. Within days, Williams and his men had retired to Virginia. Burnside had launched the East Tennessee Campaign to reduce or extinguish Confederate influence in the area; Blue Springs helped fulfill that mission.
1877 – Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer was buried at West Point in New York. George Custer was born in New Rumley, Ohio and graduated last in his class from West Point in 1861. He immediately joined his regiment at the First Battle of Bull Run. As a staff officer, his daring and energy, and in particular a spirited reconnaissance on the Chickahominy River, brought him to the notice of General George McClellan, who made him an aide-de-camp with the rank of captain. A few hours afterwards Custer attacked a Confederate picket post and drove back the enemy. He continued to serve with McClellan until the general was relieved of his command, when Custer returned to duty with his regiment as a lieutenant. In 1863, Custer was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general of volunteers. He distinguished himself at the head of the Michigan cavalry brigade in the Battle of Gettysburg, and frequently did good service in the remaining operations of the campaign of 1863. When the cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac was reorganized under Sheridan in 1864, Custer retained his command, and took part in the various actions of the cavalry in the Wilderness and Shenandoah campaigns. In February 1864, Custer raided a Confederate camp in a battle known as the Battle of Rio Hill. At the end of September 1864, he was appointed to command a division, and on October 9 fought in the brilliant cavalry action called the Battle of Woodstock. While retaining his regular-army rank of captain, he was rapidly given brevet commissions in the Volunteers as major, lieutenant-colonel and colonel, and finally brevet-major-general for his services at Gettysburg, Yellow Tavern and Winchester. His part in the decisive Battle of Cedar Creek was most conspicuous. He served with General Philip Sheridan in the last great cavalry raid, won the action of Waynesboro, and in the final campaign added to his laurels by his conduct at Dinwiddie and Five Forks. At the close of the war he received the brevets of brigadier and major-general in the regular army, and was promoted major-general of volunteers. In 1866 Custer was made lieutenant-colonel with the 7th U.S. Cavalry, and took part under General Winfield Scott Hancock in the expedition against the Cheyenne Indians, upon whom he inflicted a crushing defeat at Washita River on November 27, 1868. Even though the Cheyenne he massacred were not part of a hostile tribe (and were in fact on reservation land), this was still regarded as the first substantial US victory in the Indian Wars. In 1873 he was sent to the Dakota Territory to protect a railroad survey party against the Sioux. Then on August 4 of that year near the Tongue River, Custer and the 7th Cavalry clashed for the first time with the Sioux. Only one man on each side was killed. In 1876, an expedition that included Custer and his regiment was made against the Sioux and their allies. As the advance guard of the troops under Gen. Alfred Terry, Custer’s force arrived at the junction of the Bighorn and Little Bighorn rivers, in what is now the state of Montana, on the night of June 24. The main body was due to join him on the 26th. The presence of what was judged a very large encampment of Indians was reported to the general by his Crow Indian scouts. Despite this warning, on June 25, Custer divided his regiment into three commands and moved forward to surround and attack the encamped Indians. The 7th Cavalry met stiff resistance and were counter attacked by the full forces of the enemy, killing Custer and 264 men. The flanking columns maintained themselves with difficulty until General Terry arrived. Custer’s last words are said to be: “Hurrah, boys, we’ve got them! We’ll finish them up and then go home to our station.” Following the recovery of Custer’s body from where he fell during the Battle of Little Big Horn the previous year, Custer was given a funeral with full military honors and was laid to rest at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York on October 10, 1877. After his death, Custer achieved the lasting fame that eluded him in life. The public saw him as a tragic military hero and gentleman who sacrificed his life for his country. Custer’s wife, Elizabeth, who accompanied him in many of his frontier expeditions, did much to advance this view with the publication of several books about her late husband: Boots and Saddles, Life with General Custer in Dakota (1885), Tenting on the Plains (1887) and Following the Guidon (1891). General Custer himself wrote about the Indian wars in My Life on the Plains (1874). Custer would be called today a “media personality” who understood the value of good public relations—he frequently invited correspondents to accompany him on his campaigns, and their favorable reportage contributed to his high reputation that lasted well into the 20th century. However, this assessment of Custer’s actions during the Indian Wars has undergone substantial reconsideration in modern times. For many critics, Custer was the personification and culmination of the U.S. Government’s ill-treatment of the Native American tribes. Others equate the actions of the 7th Cavalry under his command with Holocaust-type atrocities perpetrated during World War II, or with ethnic cleansing of the 1990s. Recent films and books including Little Big Man and Son of the Morning Star depict Custer as a cruel and murderous military commander whose actions today would warrant possible dismissal and court-martial. Within the context of post-Civil War expansion, however, Custer’s actions differed little from the standard military strategy of the time, which ultimately destroyed Native American culture in the American West.
1913 – Panama Canal was completed when President Woodrow Wilson triggered a blast which exploded the Gamboa Dike by pressing an electric button at the White House in Washington, D.C.
1918 – While President Woodrow Wilson was attempting to establish “peace without victory” with Germany, the German UB-123 torpedoed RMS Leinster, a civilian mail and passenger ferry, off the coast of Ireland. Leinster was usually escorted by a Royal Air Force airship as a precaution, but on October 10, 1918, the ferry set out alone. Leinster was sunk; 564 passengers and crewmen perished, many of them American and Allied troops. After Leinster, the Germans lost their chance for an easy peace.
1923 – First American-built rigid airship, Shenandoah, is christened. It used helium gas instead of hydrogen.
1938 – Germany completed its annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland. The Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany’s annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia along the country’s borders mainly inhabited by German speakers, for which a new territorial designation “Sudetenland” was coined. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe, without the presence of Czechoslovakia. Today, it is widely regarded as a failed act of appeasement toward Germany.
1941 – The destroyer USS Kearney is attacked by a German, submarine. In the attack, ten sailors are killed and scores injured. America suffers its first war casualties in World War II. Pearl Harbor is still seven weeks away.
1944 – Nearly two hundred of Admiral Halsey’s planes struck Naha, Okinawa’s capital and principal city, in five separate waves. The city was almost totally devastated. The American war against Japan was coming inexorably closer to the Japanese homeland.
1950 – A total of sixteen Air Guard squadrons are mobilized for duty during the Korean War. Five of these fighter squadrons, the 111th (TX), 136th (TX), 154th (AR), 158th (GA) and 196th (CA) would fly missions in Korea. Sixteen other units were deployed to NATO bases in Europe.
A mobilized pilot with the 127th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, Kansas Air Guard, is escorted by his two sons to his F-84C aircraft as he prepares to enter active duty. The 127th will be deployed to Chaumont, France as one of the sixteen Air Guard squadrons serving in Europe.
National Guard Education Foundation
1950 – In the west, the 1st Cavalry Division’s 8th Cavalry Regiment crossed the 38th parallel in the vicinity of Kaesong. The ROK 3rd Division entered Wonsan on the East Coast.
1950 – A 3d ARS H-5 crew administered, for the first time while a helicopter was in flight, blood plasma to a rescued pilot. The crewmembers received Silver Stars for this action.
1953 – A Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of Korea is concluded in Washington, D.C.
1954 – Ho Chi Minh entered Hanoi after French troops withdraw.
1957 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower apologizes to the finance minister of Ghana, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, after he is refused service in a Dover, Delaware restaurant.
1960 – Navy assigned responsibility for program management and technial direction of Project SPASUR, the first U.S. universal satellite detection and tracking network.
1965 – Ronald Reagan spoke at Coalinga Junior College and called for an official declaration of war in Vietnam.
1966 – Marines launch Operation “Kent,” Vietnam. (concluded 15 October)
1967 – The Outer Space Treaty, signed on January 27 by more than sixty nations, comes into force. The Outer Space Treaty, formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law. The treaty was opened for signature in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union on 27 January 1967. As of May 2013, 102 countries are parties to the treaty, while another 27 have signed the treaty but have not completed ratification. Among its principles, it bars states, party to the treaty, from placing nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction in orbit of Earth, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or to otherwise station them in outer space. It exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes and expressly prohibits their use for testing weapons of any kind, conducting military maneuvers, or establishing military bases, installations, and fortifications. However, the Treaty does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit. The treaty also states that the exploration of outer space shall be done to benefit all countries and shall be free for exploration and use by all the States. The treaty explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet, claiming that they are the common heritage of mankind. Art. II of the Treaty states that “outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means”. However, the State that launches a space object retains jurisdiction and control over that object. The State is also liable for damages caused by their space object.
1968 – The 1stMarDiv and 1st MAW were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, Da Nang, Vietnam.
1973 – Vice President of the United States Spiro Agnew resigns after being charged with evasion of federal income tax.
1975 – Israel formally signed the Sinai accord with Egypt.
1979 – Panama assumed sovereignty over Canal Area.
1982 – US imposed sanctions against Poland for banning Solidarity trade union.
1985 – U.S. fighter jets from the USS Saratoga forced an Egyptian plane carrying the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro to land in Italy, where the gunmen were taken into custody.
1990 – The space shuttle “Discovery” landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California, ending a virtually flawless four-day mission.
1992 – Iraq released U.S. munitions expert Clinton Hall, two days after he’d been taken prisoner in the demilitarized zone separating Iraq and Kuwait.
1993 – Thousands of Somalis demonstrated in the capital of Mogadishu to support warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, an event that coincided with the arrival of special U.S. envoy Robert Oakley.
1994 – Iraq announced it was withdrawing its forces from the Kuwaiti border; seeing no signs of a pullback, President Clinton dispatched 350 additional aircraft to the region.
1995 – Israel began a West Bank pullback and freed hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.
1996 – In Afghanistan three military commanders formed a pact against the Taliban. Gen’l. Rashid Dostum, Ahmad Shah Massoud and Abdul Karim Khalily held 10 northern provinces against 19 held by the Taliban.
1998 – David Sheldon Boone (46), a former Pentagon analyst, was arrested for selling top defense secrets to the former Soviet Union. He was lured back to the US from Germany.
2000 – Pres. Clinton met with Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok, the most senior North Korean official to ever visit the US.
2001 – U.S. jets pounded the Afghan capital of Kabul.
2001 – An unmanned US spy plane was lost over southern Iraq, the 3rd since Aug 27.
2001 – The FBI issued a list of 22 most wanted terrorists dating back to 1985 with rewards up to $5 million for tips that prevent attacks or lead to arrests.
2001 – In Florida a 3rd case of anthrax was identified in a 35-year-old woman who worked in the same office as Robert Stevens. The strain was reported to match one from Iowa in the 1950s commonly used by lab researchers.
2001 – US warplanes struck an ammunition dump at the edge of Kandahar and secondary explosions left some civilian casualties.
2001 – The 56-member Organization of Islamic Conference, called by Iran, issued a communique that sidestepped US action in Afghanistan: “The conference rejected the targeting of any Islamic or Arab state under the pretext of fighting terrorism.”
2001 – Turkey granted the government the authority to send troops overseas and to allow foreign troops to be stationed on its soil.
2002 – The US Congress gave Pres. Bush authorization to use armed forces against Iraq. The House voted 296-133 in favor.
2002 – Allied planes bombed radar and missile sites in the southern no-fly zone over Iraq, targeting President Saddam Hussein’s air defenses for the third time this week.
2003 – In southern Afghanistan 41 Taliban militants escaped from prison by digging a 30-foot-long tunnel with apparent help from officials.
2003 – In Sadr City, Iraq, 2 Americans and 2 Iraqis were killed in a gunfight.
2004 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Iraq.
2004 – Libyan officials said police have arrested 17 non-Libyans suspected of being al-Qaida members who entered this North African country illegally.
2009 – United States President Barack Obama announces he will end the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against homosexuals serving in the U.S. military.
2013 – Scott Carpenter, Mercury 7 astronaut and second American to orbit the earth, dies at 88 following complications from a stroke. Malcolm Scott Carpenter (born May 1, 1925) was an American test pilot, astronaut, and aquanaut. He was one of the original seven astronauts selected for NASA’s Project Mercury in April 1959. Carpenter was the second American (after John Glenn) to orbit the Earth and the fourth American in space, following Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, and John Glenn. After being chosen for Project Mercury in 1959, Carpenter, along with the other six astronauts, oversaw the development of the Mercury capsule. He served as backup pilot for John Glenn, who flew the first U.S. orbital mission aboard Friendship 7 in February 1962. Carpenter, serving as capsule communicator on this flight, can be heard saying “Godspeed, John Glenn” on the recording of Glenn’s liftoff. When Deke Slayton was withdrawn on medical grounds from Project Mercury’s second manned orbital flight (which Slayton would have named Delta 7), Carpenter was assigned to replace him. He flew into space on May 24, 1962, atop the Mercury-Atlas 7 rocket for a three-orbit science mission that lasted nearly five hours. His Aurora 7 spacecraft attained a maximum altitude of 164 miles (264 km) and an orbital velocity of 17,532 miles per hour (28,215 km/h). In July 1964 in Bermuda, Carpenter sustained a grounding injury from a motorbike accident while on leave from NASA to train for the Navy’s SEALAB project. In 1965, for SEALAB II, he spent 28 days living on the ocean floor off the coast of California. During the SEALAB II mission, Carpenter’s right index finger was wounded by the toxic spines of a scorpion fish. He returned to work at NASA as Executive Assistant to the Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, then returned to the Navy’s Deep Submergence Systems Project in 1967, based in Bethesda, Maryland, as a Director of Aquanaut Operations for SEALAB III. In the aftermath of aquanaut Berry L. Cannon’s death while attempting to repair a leak in SEALAB III, Carpenter volunteered to dive down to SEALAB and help return it to the surface, although SEALAB was ultimately salvaged in a less hazardous way. Carpenter retired from the Navy in 1969, after which he founded Sea Sciences, Inc., a corporation for developing programs for utilizing ocean resources and improving environmental health.
2014 – Islamic State forces capture the headquarters of Kurdish forces defending the Syrian border town of Kobane with the United Nations warning of massacre.