This Day in U.S. Military History…… October 28

28 October
1492 – Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba on his first voyage to the New World.
1768 – Germans and Acadians joined French Creoles in their armed revolt against Antonio de Ulloa the Spanish governor of New Orleans. This combined militia will force his resignation the next day.
1775 – A British proclamation forbids residents from leaving Boston.
1776 – Battle of White Plains; Washington retreated to NJ. British General William Howe lurched back into action on October 12. He hoped to avoid a costly direct assault against the Americans, who were entrenched in hilly northern Manhattan. Instead, Howe executed a flanking movement, sending his soldiers by boat up the East River, through Hell Gate and onto Long Island Sound. Soldiers were landed first at Throg’s Neck and later at Pell’s Point. Washington was aware that the British were massing behind his lines. On October 23, he left 2,000 of his best soldiers at Fort Washington in northwestern Manhattan and began a march with the reminder of his force northward into Westchester County. Progress was exceedingly difficult. The Americans had few horses and were forced to move many of their cannon by hand. Safety of sorts was found in the hills outside of the village of White Plains. Following several days of skirmishes, significant fighting occurred on October 28, particularly on Chatterton’s Hill. The American forces were dislodged from their position, but once again Howe failed to pursue his opponents and waited for reinforcements. By November 1, the British were ready to resume their offensive, but a heavy wind and rain storm slowed their progress. Washington took advantage of the British lethargy and retreated northward to another hilltop location, this time about five miles away near the town of North Castle. Washington and his dispirited army believed that a major, perhaps decisive, battle would occur within the next few days. To their utter amazement, dawn on November 4 brought the sight of the British turning their backs on the lightly entrenched Americans and beginning a march back to Manhattan. Washington made a crucial decision to divide his army and led about 2,500 men into New Jersey. A larger force of some 11,000 men was left under the command of the erratic Charles Lee and was responsible for halting any future British advance into New England. Howe next turned his attention to the small American presence at Fort Washington.
1790 – NY gave up claims to Vermont for $30,000.
1793 – Eliphalet Remington, US gun maker, was born. He was an American inventor, gunsmith and arms manufacturer. Remington was trained in blacksmithing, but turned to gunsmithing at an early age. His father founded and ran a firearms firm in Ilion, N.Y., until he died in 1828. At this time, Eliphalet took over. He supplied the U.S. army with rifles in the Mexican war. In 1856 the business was expanded to include the manufacture of agricultural implements. When the firm held many government contracts, Eliphalet’s son, Philo Remington, directed the business. The Remington firm later supplied the armies with several European countries with breech-loading rifles. In 1879, it began making sewing machines. The Remington Firearms Company still manufactures guns today. It is the focal point of Ilion and aids greatly in the production of their economy.
1864 – Battle at Fair Oaks, Virginia, ended after 1554 casualties. Union forces withdraw from Fair Oaks, Virginia, after failing to breach the Confederate defenses around Richmond. The assault was actually a diversion to draw attention from a larger Union offensive around Petersburg. The scene of one of the Seven Days’ Battles in June 1862, Fair Oaks was located on the defensive perimeter around the Confederate capital of Richmond. General Robert E. Lee’s army constructed five lines of trenches that stretched 25 miles south to Petersburg. For five months, Lee’s troops had been under siege by the forces of Union General Ulysses S. Grant. The monotony of the siege was broken only periodically by a Union attempt to break Lee’s lines. One such attack came at Hatcher’s Run, southwest of Petersburg, on October 27. At the same time, Grant ordered an attack at Fair Oaks, about 24 miles from the assault at Hatcher’s Run. The Richmond defenses were formidable, so any direct assault was unlikely to succeed. By attacking at Fair Oaks, Grant hoped to prevent Lee from shifting any troops along the Richmond-Petersburg line to reinforce the lines at Hatcher’s Run. Troops from General Benjamin Butler’s Tenth Corps moved north of the James River and conducted a two-pronged offensive against Richmond on October 27. Confederate General James Longstreet, in charge of the Richmond section of the Confederate defenses, skillfully positioned troops to thwart the Yankees. Union General Godfrey Weitzel, commander of part of the attack, enjoyed some initial success but could not significantly penetrate the Rebel trenches. On October 2, he determined that he had accomplished all that he could, and he withdrew his troops. Some 1100 Union men were killed, wounded, or captured during the attack, while the Confederates lost just 450. The planned diversion did not work–at the far end of the defenses, the Yankees failed to move around the end of the Confederate line at Hatcher’s Run.
1864 – Battle of Wauhatchie, TN. In an effort to relieve Union forces besieged in Chattanooga, Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas and Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant initiated the “Cracker Line Operation” on October 26, 1863. This operation required the opening of the road to Chattanooga from Brown’s Ferry on the Tennessee River with a simultaneous advance up Lookout Valley, securing the Kelley’s Ferry Road. Union Chief Engineer, Military Division of the Mississippi, Brig. Gen. William F. “Baldy” Smith, with Brig. Gen. John B. Turchin’s and Brig. Gen. William B. Hazen’s 1st and 2nd brigades, 3rd Division, IV Army Corps, was assigned the task of establishing the Brown’s Ferry bridgehead. Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, with three divisions, marched from Bridgeport through Lookout Valley towards Brown’s Ferry from the south. At 3:00 am, on October 27, portions of Hazen’s brigade embarked upon pontoons and floated around Moccasin Bend to Brown’s Ferry. Turchin’s brigade took a position on Moccasin Bend across from Brown’s Ferry. Upon landing, Hazen secured the bridgehead and then positioned a pontoon bridge across the river, allowing Turchin to cross and take position on his right. Hooker, while his force passed through Lookout Valley on October 28, detached Brig. Gen. John W. Geary’s division at Wauhatchie Station, a stop on the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, to protect the line of communications to the south as well as the road west to Kelley’s Ferry. Observing the Union movements on the 27th and 28th, Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet and Gen. Braxton Bragg decided to mount a night attack on Wauhatchie Station. Although the attack was scheduled for 10:00 pm on the night of October 28, confusion delayed it till midnight. Surprised by the attack, Geary’s division, at Wauhatchie Station, formed into a V-shaped battle line. Hearing the din of battle, Hooker, at Brown’s Ferry, sent Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard with two XI Army Corps divisions to Wauhatchie Station as reinforcements. As more and more Union troops arrived, the Confederates fell back to Lookout Mountain. The Federals now had their window to the outside and could receive supplies, weapons, ammunition, and reinforcements via the Cracker Line. Relatively few night engagements occurred during the Civil War; Wauhatchie is one of the most significant.
1864 – Steamer General Thomas and gunboat Stone River destroy Confederate batteries on Tennessee River near Decatur, Alabama forcing the withdrawal of General Hood’s troops.
1882 – Orders issued for first Naval Attache (LCDR French Chadwick sent to London, England).
1917 – U.S.A. second Liberty Loan: £1,000,000,000 ($3,000,000 US) to France and Britain is approved at 5%.
1918 – World War I was reaching its climax as Allied forces all along the Western Front continue launching attacks against the German “Hindenburg Line”. Used to keep the pressure on the Germans most of these attacks gain some ground but not all succeed. A case in point is the failed assault launched on this date by the 26th Division (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) in a sector known to the French as the “Death Valley”. But it is no wonder the assault failed. The division was very weak, having been in action almost daily, with little relief, since the start of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in late September. For instance, its 51st Brigade, composed of the 101st Infantry (MA) and the 102nd Infantry (CT), had only 15 officers and just over 800 men when their combined organizational strength should have been 6,100 men. The men were tired but when the order came to advance they moved out. Despite artillery support from the 101st Field Artillery (MA) and some French cannon, their attack failed to reach its goal and the survivors withdrew to their original jumping off point having lost an additional 150 men killed, wounded or missing. On November 1st the 26th Division was pulled out of Death Valley and sent to a rest area. It would see no more combat as the war ended on November 11th.
1919 – Congress passed the National Prohibition Enforcement Act, otherwise known as the Volstead Act, on this date. The Volstead Act authorized the enforcement of the 18th Amendment, ratified on 29 January 1919. The Act authorized the Coast Guard to prevent the maritime importation of illegal alcohol. This led to the largest increase in the size and responsibilities of the service to date.
1922 – Italian fascists led by Benito Mussolini march on Rome and take over the Italian government.
1929 – Black Monday, a day in the Wall Street Crash of 1929, which also saw major stock market upheaval.
1938 – There was a farewell parade of International Brigade in Barcelona, Spain.
1942 – American diplomat Robert Murphy informs French General Mast that the Allied invasion of North Africa will take place in November. Mast protests that he will be unable to organize support for either General Giraud or the Allied cause in time.
1942 – The Alaska Highway (Alcan Highway) is completed through Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska.
1943 – The US 2nd Marine Parachute Battalion is landed by sea at Voza on Choiseul Island (Operation Blissful). They engage Japanese forces. This is a diversion from the intended attack on Bougainville.
1943 – As a consequence of a number of unresolved disputes, a coal miners strike gains momentum. About 500,000 miners are on strike at this point.
1944 – The first B-29 Superfortress bomber mission flew from the airfields in the Mariana Islands in a strike against the Japanese base at Truk.
1944 – On Leyte, attacks by US 24th Corps around Dagami make slow progress and suffer heavy losses. To the north, the US 1st Cavalry Division (part of US 10th Corps) encounters heavy resistance near Carigara and is held up. At sea, carrier groups under the command of Admiral Davison and Admiral Bogan conduct air strikes.
1951 – At Panmunjom, the communists agreed generally to accept the U.N. Command concept that the battle line should be the demarcation line. Both sides thereby had an incentive to take and hold ground, a factor that perhaps prolonged the war.
1960 – In a note to the OAS (Organization of American States), the United States charged that Cuba had been receiving substantial quantities of arms and numbers of military technicians” from the Soviet bloc.
1962 – The Cuban Missile crisis comes to a close as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agrees to remove Russian missiles from Cuba in exchange for a promise from the United States to respect Cuba’s territorial sovereignty. This ended nearly two weeks of anxiety and tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union that came close to provoking a nuclear conflict.The consequences of the crisis were many and varied. Relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union were on shaky ground for some time after Khrushchev’s removal of the missiles, as Fidel Castro accused the Russians of backing down from the Americans and deserting the Cuban revolution. European allies of the United States were also angered, not because of the U.S. stance during the crisis, but because the Kennedy administration kept them virtually in the dark about negotiations that might have led to an atomic war. Inside the Soviet Union, hard-liners were appalled at Khrushchev’s withdrawal of the weapons. Two years later, in 1964, Leonid Brezhnev and Aleksei Kosygin pushed him from power and proceeded to lead the Soviet Union on a massive military buildup. There was perhaps one positive aspect of the crisis. Having gone to the edge of what President Kennedy referred to as the “abyss of destruction,” cooler heads in both nations initiated steps to begin some control over nuclear weapons. Less than a year after the crisis ended, the United States and Soviet Union signed an agreement to end aboveground testing; in 1968, both nations signed a non-proliferation treaty.
1962 – An 11,000-man 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade left Camp Pendleton by sea for the Caribbean during the Cuban Missile Crisis. One week earlier, the entire 189,000-man Marine Corps had been put on alert and elements of the 1st and 2d Marine Divisions were sent to Guantanamo Bay to reinforce the defenders of the U.S. Naval Base. Other 2d Division units and squadrons from five Marine Aircraft Groups were deployed at Key West, Florida, or in Caribbean waters during the Cuban crisis.
1964 – U.S. T-28 airplanes flown by Thai pilots bomb and strafe North Vietnamese villages in the Mugia Pass area. North Vietnam charged publicly that U.S. personnel participated in the raids, but U.S. officials denied that any Americans were involved.
1965 – Viet Cong commandos damage and destroy a number of allied aircraft in two separate raids on U.S. air bases, including Chu Lai, on the coast of the South China Sea in Quang Tin Province, I Corps.
1985 – The leader of the so-called “Walker family spy ring,” John Walker, pleaded guilty to giving U-S Navy secrets to the Soviet Union. John Walker was the KGB’s most important spy in the United States in the 1970s. As a chief warrant officer in the US Navy, Walker had access to naval secrets and spied for the Soviet Union in exchange for money. After retiring, John Walker continued to spy with the help of family members still serving in the Navy until the FBI caught him.
1990 – In a surprise move, Iraq said it was halting gasoline rationing imposed earlier in response to global economic sanctions.
1991 – Thousands of Haitian migrants began fleeing their homeland after the overthrow of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, prompting one of the largest SAR operations in Coast Guard history. Cutters and aircraft from as far north as New England converged on the Windward Passage. In the first 30 days of the operation, Coast Guard forces rescued more than 6,300 men, women, and children who left Haiti in grossly overloaded and unseaworthy vessels. 75 Coast Guard units ultimately take part in the massive SAR operation and by the end of the year, over 40,000 Haitian migrants are rescued.
1994 – President Clinton visited Kuwait, where he praised U.S. ground forces sent in response to an Iraqi threat, and all but promised the troops they’d be home by Christmas.
1999 – Two Navy Blue Angel aviators, Kieron O’Connor (35) and Kevin Colling (32), were killed when their F/A-18 Hornet crashed during a training flight near Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. 23 pilots have died at shows or training since the group was formed in 1946.
2001 – The CDC reported a 13th case of anthrax in a New Jersey postal worker. Spores were found at the mail center in Landover, Md.
2001 – The US expanded air strikes over Afghanistan and hit targets in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Heart, Jalalabad, Kandahar and near the Tajik border. 13 civilians, including 4 children, were reported killed in Kabul.
2002 – In Jordan an assassin pumped eight shots into Laurence Foley (62), an employee of the U.S. Agency for International Development, outside his home in the first known killing of a Western envoy in Amman. 2 suspects were arrested Dec 14.
2003 – It was reported that Forbes Magazine had estimated Yasser Arafat’s fortune at some $300 million, with much of it controlled by adviser Mohammed Rachid.
2004 – A breakaway Taliban group abducted three foreign UN workers from Kabul because they assisted Afghanistan’s “fake election” and threatened to kill them if a rescue mission was launched.
2004 – Militants released a grisly video that showed the killing of 11 Iraqi troops held hostage for days, beheading one, then shooting the others execution-style. Another group released a video of a kidnapped Polish woman, demanding Warsaw pull its troops from Iraq.
2005 – Lewis Libby, Vice-president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, is indicted in the Valerie Plame case. Libby resigns later that day.
2005 – President Fidel Castro of Cuba agrees to allow three officials from the United States Agency for International Development into the country to assist in relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Wilma. The communist nation typically turns down offers of assistance from the United States since trade embargoes from the U.S. have been in place for over 40 years.
2007 – The USS Porter, a destroyer opened fire on pirates who had captured a freighter and with other vessels blockaded a port the pirates attempted to take refuge in.
2007 – Clocks are not set back one hour on this date, the last Sunday of October, as they have been since 1966. A 2005 act changed the end date of Daylight Saving to the fist Sunday of November (4 Nov, 2007) effective this year. Various technological glitches result.
2007 – About 80 Taliban fighters were killed in a six-hour battle with forces from the US-led coalition in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
2009 – NASA successfully launches the Ares I-X mission, the only rocket launch for its later-cancelled Constellation program.
2011 – A Wahhabi Islamist armed with hand grenades and an automatic weapon opens fire outside the United States embassy in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, resulting in two people being injured, including the gunman.
2011 – NASA launches its NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite to send back data on weather and climate conditions.
2012 – The SpaceX Dragon capsule on a re-supply mission to the International Space Station returns to Earth.
2014 – An unmanned Antares rocket carrying NASA’s Cygnus CRS Orb-3 resupply mission to the International Space Station explodes seconds after taking off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in the U.S. state of Virginia. The loss includes five thousand pounds of cargo.

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