This Day in U.S. Military History…… October 17

17 October
1691 – Maine and Plymouth were incorporated in Massachusetts.
1777 – General John Burgoyne with British forces of 5,000 men surrendered to General Horatio Gates, commander of the American forces at Schuylerville, NY. In the fall of 1777, the British commander Gen’l. Burgoyne and his men were advancing along the Hudson River. After Burgoyne had retreated to the heights of Saratoga, the Americans stopped and surrounded them. The surrender was a turning point in the American Revolution, demonstrating American determination to gain independence. After the surrender, France sided with the Americans, and other countries began to get involved and align themselves against Britain.
1781 – Cornwallis was defeated at Yorktown. Cornwallis’ options had been running out. He had even tried sending blacks infected with smallpox over enemy lines in an attempt to infect the American and French troops. After a futile counterattack, Cornwallis offered to surrender.
1814 – The crew of USRC Eagle, which had been driven ashore near Negros Head, New York in an encounter with the British brig HMS Dispatch, dragged the cutter’s guns up a bluff in an effort to continue the battle. The New York Evening Post gave an account of what happened next to the out-gunned cutter: “During the engagement between the Cutter EAGLE and the enemy, the following took place which is worthy of notice. Having expanded all the wadding of the four-pounders on the hill, during the warmest of the firing, several of the crew volunteered and went on board the cutter to obtain more. At this moment the masts were shot away, when the brave volunteers erected a flag upon her stern; this was soon shot away, but was immediately replaced by a heroic tar, amidst the cheers of his undaunted comrades, which was returned by a whole broadside from the enemy. When the crew of the Cutter had expended all their large shot and fixed ammunition, they tore up the log book to make cartridges and returned the enemy’s small shot which lodged in the hull. The Cutter was armed with only 6 guns, 4 four-pounders and 2 twos with plenty of muskets and about 50 men. The enemy being gone and provisions scarce the volunteers from this city left Captain Lee and his crew and arrived here on Thursday evening the 13th instant, in a sloop from Long Island. . .We have since learned that Captain Lee succeeded in getting off the Cutter and was about to remove her to a place of safety when the enemy returned and took possession of her. She was greatly injured, but it is expected that the enemy will be able to refit her to annoy us in the sound.”
1814 – Marines and Sailors landed on Grand Terre Island, Louisiana, to punish pirates. Pirate leader, Jean Lafitte’s activities threatened to monopolize the city’s import trade. New Orleans merchants goaded the new American governor, William C. C. Claiborne, into accusing him of piracy and posting a $500 reward. Lafitte made Claiborne a laughingstock with his own offer of $1500 for Claiborne’s capture, and to rub it in he hired District Attorney John R. Grymes as his counselor (for a reported $10,000). Lafitte would not be bought, bribed, or intimidated. In 1814 the British offered him $30,000 and a Royal Navy commission to help them capture New Orleans. The buccaneer turned them down and informed Claiborne of his wish to become a citizen and to give Claiborne his support, if his privateer followers were pardoned for all past crimes. Claiborne was ready to relent when the American Navy swooped down on the Grand Terre base and destroyed it. Fortunately for the infant United States, General Andrew Jackson sought out the buccaneer and agreed to honor his request.
1859 – Abolitionist John Brown leads a group of men in a raid to capture the federal arsenal located at Harpers Ferry, Virginia with the intent to arm slaves he would lead in revolt against their masters. His plans are foiled by local town’s people attacking his party and forcing it into the firehouse. They are soon surrounded by militiamen from Jefferson, Berkeley and Frederick counties. One such unit, the “Continental Morgan Guard” from Winchester, VA, is still an element in the Virginia Guard today. As word of the raid spreads other militia troops arrive by train, some from as far away as Richmond. However, U.S. Marines under the command of Army Colonel Robert E. Lee arrive and storm the “Brown’s fort” killing or capturing the raiders. Brown is captured and later tried for treason, convicted and quickly hung in Charlestown, VA (now WV). During this period he is guarded by several hundred Virginia militia against the possibility of other raiders trying to free him, though no such attack was launched. Because of his raid and the fear of other attempts to get the slaves to rise in revolt, the growth of volunteer militia units in the southern states rose sharply in the months leading up to the Civil War.
1871 – President Grant suspended writ of habeas corpus in nine South Carolina counties in enforcement of the Ku Klux Klan Act.
1877 – Brigadier General Alfred Terry met with Sitting Bull in Canada to discuss the Indians’ return to the United States. Sitting Bull and his followers had fled to Canada after the Little Big Horn. This meeting will fail.
1894 – Ohio national guard killed 3 lynchers while rescuing a black man. A mob gathered outside the Fayette County court house with the intent to lynch convicted rapist William “Jasper” Dolby. Gov. William McKinley ordered Ohio National Guard troops to subdue the mob. Oct. 17, 1894, the crowd battered the doors and was fired upon. Five men were killed. McKinley reaffirmed the National Guard troops decision, “The law was upheld as it should have been …but in this case at a fearful cost… Lynching cannot be tolerated in Ohio.” Bullet holes are still visible in the south court house doors.
1922 – LCDR Virgil C. Griffin in Vought VE-7SF makes first takeoff from U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Langley (CV-1) anchored in York River, Virginia.
1933 – Due to rising anti-Semitism and anti-intellectualism in Hitler’s Germany, Albert Einstein immigrated to the United States. He made his new home in Princeton, N.J.
1941 – The U.S. destroyer Kearney DD-432 was damaged by a German U-boat torpedo off Iceland; 11 Americans were killed.
1941 – General Hideki Tojo (1885-1948) became Premier and Minister of War in Japan. When the bellicose war minister and most powerful man in Japan, Army General Hideki Tojo, became prime minister, there no longer was a chance of avoiding war with Britain and the United States. 1942 – A regiment of the US 32nd Division is airlifted from Port Moresby to Wanigela on the north coast.
1943 – The last operational German auxiliary cruiser, Michel, is sunk by the American submarine Tarpon off the Japanese coast. The German raider has sunk 17 ships during its cruise.
1943 – The advancing US 5th Army takes Liberi and Alvignano.
1944 – US 2nd Corps (part of US 5th Army) continues attacks toward Bologna, Italy.
1944 – As a diversion for the American attack on Leyte, the British Eastern Fleet sends 2 carriers, 1 battle cruiser and lighter ships on a raid of the Nicobar Islands. Air strikes and shelling are carried out, causing damage.
1944 – In France, US 7th Army continues its offensive around Luneville and Bruyeres.
1944 – US Task Group 77.4 (Admiral TF Sprague) continues air strikes on Leyte, Cebu and Mindanao. US Task Group 38.4 (Admiral Davison) arrives with 4 carriers and launches air strikes on Luzon. Also, American minesweeping in Leyte Gulf begin and there are minor landings, by elements of the US Rangers, on the islands of Suluan and Dinagat at the entrance to Leyte Gulf.
1945 – Iva Toguri D’Aquino, a Japanese-American suspected of being wartime radio propagandist “Tokyo Rose,” was arrested by 3 CIC officers in her Tokyo apartment.
1973 – Arab oil-producing nations announced they would begin cutting back on oil exports to Western nations and Japan; the result was a total embargo that lasted until March 1974 and caused oil prices to quadruple.
1974 – A meeting of the Boston Massachusetts School Committee is “stinkbombed” by the Weather Underground to protest busing.
1978 – President Carter signed a bill restoring U.S. citizenship to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
1989 – An earthquake registering 7.1 on the Richter Scale hit Northern California, killing 67 people. Coast Guard units and 24 Navy and Military Sealift Command ships rendered assistance in rescue and relief operations.
1993 – Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, in a CBS interview, said he would offer legislation restricting President Clinton’s authority to send troops to Haiti.
1994 – Negotiators for the Angolan government and rebels agreed to a peace treaty to end their 19-year civil war.
1997 – The US Army used a Miracl (medium infra-red advanced chemical laser developed by TRW) laser beam to hit the MISTI-3 satellite in orbit. The laser test was prohibited by Congress in 1985, but the ban expired in 1995. The test failed to be recorded by sensors on the satellite.
1999 – US negotiators proposed to Russia an alteration to the 1972 ABM treaty to allow construction of defensive systems.
2001 – Federal officials reported that the anthrax strains in New York and Florida appeared to be identical. The House and 6 congressional office buildings were closed for tests after over 30 Senate staff members tested positive for exposure to spores.
2001 – Some 100 US land and sea-base planes hit targets that included Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif.
2001 – In Afghanistan Taliban forces seized UN food warehouses in Kabul and Kandahar. 2001 – In the Philippines gunmen abducted an Italian priest, Giuseppe Pierantoni (45), in Dimataling, Zamboanga del Sur. He was freed Apr 8, 2002.
2002 – In the Philippines bombings in Zamboanga killed 7 people and injured 152. Militants of Abu Sayyaf were suspected.
2003 – Pres. Bush stopped in Tokyo and thanked PM Junichiro Koizumi for aid to Iraq.
2003 – In eastern Afghanistan a bomb blew up a pickup truck on a dirt road, killing four people, and two Afghan soldiers were killed in a land mine explosion in the country’s south.
2003 – The EU pushed ahead with efforts to build its own defense arm but sought to ease U.S. concerns by insisting the plan would neither duplicate nor undermine NATO.
2004 – US forces battled insurgents around Fallujah. Militants ambushed and killed nine Iraqi policemen returning from training in Jordan. A suicide driver in Baghdad killed at least 7 people. More than 200 detainees were released from Abu Ghraib prison after a security review deemed them no longer a threat.
2004 – Jordan’s military prosecutor indicted Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the most wanted insurgents in Iraq, and 12 other alleged Muslim militants for an alleged al-Qaida linked plot to attack the U.S. Embassy in Amman and Jordanian government targets.
2004 – The Tawhid and Jihad group, a militant group led by terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, declared its allegiance to Osama bin Laden.
2011 – Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson opens the world’s first commercial spaceport, Spaceport America, in the U.S. state of New Mexico. The SpaceShipTwo spaceplane is expected to begin commercial flights from the spaceport by 2013.
2014 – The President of the United States Barack Obama names lawyer and former political operative Ron Klain as “ebola czar” to coordinate US response to the Ebola outbreak. Klain will not begin in the job until March 2015.
2014 – The X-37B experimental spaceplane, lands at Vandenburg Air Force base after 675 days in space. OTV-3, the second mission for the first X-37B and the third X-37B mission overall, was originally scheduled to launch on 25 October 2012, but was postponed because of an engine issue with the Atlas V launch vehicle.[55] The X-37B was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral on 11 December 2012. The launch was designated USA-240

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