1608 – English adventurer John Smith is elected council president of Jamestown, Virginia–the first permanent English settlement in North America. Smith, a colorful figure, had won popularity in the colony because of his organizational abilities and effectiveness in dealing with local Native American groups. In May 1607, about 100 English colonists settled along the James River in Virginia to found Jamestown. The settlers fared badly because of famine, disease, and Indian attacks, but were aided by the 27-year-old John Smith, who directed survival efforts and mapped the area. While exploring the Chickahominy River in December 1607, Smith and two colonists were captured by Powhatan warriors. At the time, the Powhatan Indian confederacy consisted of around 30 Tidewater-area tribes led by Chief Wahunsonacock, known as Chief Powhatan to the English. Smith’s companions were killed, but he was spared and released (according to a 1624 account by Smith) because of the dramatic intercession of Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan’s 13-year-old daughter. In 1608, Smith became president of the Jamestown colony, but the settlement continued to suffer. An accidental fire destroyed much of the town, and hunger, disease, and Indian attacks continued. During this time, Pocahontas often came to Jamestown as an emissary of her father, sometimes bearing gifts of food to help the hard-pressed settlers. She befriended the settlers and became acquainted with English ways. In 1609, Smith was injured from a fire in his gunpowder bag and was forced to return to England. John Smith returned to the New World in 1614 to explore the New England coast, carefully mapping the coast from Penobscot Bay to Cape Cod. That April, Pocahontas married the English planter John Rolfe in Jamestown. On another voyage of exploration, in 1615, Smith was captured by pirates but escaped after three months of captivity. He then returned to England, where he died in 1631.
1736 – Carter Braxton, US farmer and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born.
1776 – George Washington asked for a spy volunteer and Nathan Hale volunteered.
1813 – In the first unqualified defeat of a British naval squadron in history, U.S. Captain Oliver Hazard Perry leads a fleet of nine American ships to victory over a squadron of six British warships at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. The battle was closely contested for hours, and Perry’s flagship Lawrence was reduced to a defenseless wreck. He then transferred to the Niagara and sailed directly into the British line, firing broadsides and forcing the British to surrender. Perry had won a complete victory at the cost of 27 Americans killed and 96 wounded; British casualties were 40 dead and 94 wounded. After the battle, Perry sent a famous dispatch to U.S. General William Henry Harrison that read, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” The Battle of Lake Erie forced the British to abandon Detroit, ensuring U.S. control over Lake Erie and the territorial northwest.
1836 – Joseph Wheeler II, Maj. Gen. of the Confederacy, Cavalry, Army of Tennessee, was born.
1861 – Confederate forces withdraw from the Kanawha Valley in western Virginia after fighting an indecisive battle at Carnifex Ferry in the early months of the war. During the summer of 1861, the two sides had struggled for control of western Virginia as the Union tried to secure the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and control the region’s river transportation. Meanwhile, the counties of western Virginia were trying to secede from their own state. Since residents of the mountainous region had little in common with the rest of the state, and slavery was rare, a referendum was set for October 24 to create a Unionist state. After defeating a Union force at Cross Lanes on August 26, Confederate General John Floyd occupied the bluffs overlooking Carnifex Ferry on the Kanawha River. General William S. Rosecrans commanded Union forces in the area. On the morning of September 10, a Yankee detachment under General Henry Benham stumbled into the main Confederate force and the rest of Rosecran’s army soon showed up to expel the Rebels from their positions on the bluff. Some 2,000 Confederates faced a Union force about three times their size. The battle lasted until nightfall, but the Yankees, who sustained 158 casualties to the Confederates’ 20, were unable to penetrate the Southern lines. Nevertheless, Floyd was unable to hold his position in the face of the larger Yankee contingent. By retreating, he left Union forces in control of Kanawha Valley and most of western Virginia. This facilitated the formation of West Virginia. The combatants at Carnifex Ferry included many men who later achieved fame, including two members of the 23rd Ohio Infantry who eventually became president of the United States: Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley.
1861 – U.S.S. Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, and U.S.S. Lexington, Commander Stembel, covering a troop advance, silenced the guns of a Confederate battery and damaged gunboat C.S.S. Yankee at Lucas Bend, Missouri.
1863 – As Little Rock, Arkansas, was falling to Major General Frederick Steele, U.S.S. Hastings, Lieutenant Commander S.L. Phelps, arrived at Devall’s Bluff on the White River to support the land action. Though the river was falling rapidly, Phelps advised the General: “I shall be glad to be of service to you in every way possible.” Phelps added that he would have gone over to Little Rock to congratulate Steele if he “could have obtained conveyance. . . . Horseback riding,” he wrote dryly, “for such a distance is rather too much for the uninitiated.” A week later Phelps reported to Rear Admiral Porter: “I have been up this river 150 miles, where we found a bar over which we could not pass. Numerous bodies of men cut off from General Price’s army [after the fall of Little Rock to Steele] were fleeing across White River to the eastward. We captured 3 rebel soldiers, 2 cavalry horses and equipments, and brought down a number of escaped conscripts, who have come to enlist in our army.” This type of naval operation far into the Confederate interior continued to facilitate shore operations.
1864 – An expedition from U.S.S. Wyalusing, Lieutenant Commander Earl English, landed at Elizabeth City on the Pasquotank River, North Carolina, and seized several of the leading citizens for interrogation regarding the burning of mail steamer Fawn on the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal the night before. The naval landing party encountered little resistance at Elizabeth City, and succeeded in capturing 29 prisoners. English learned that the Fawn expedition had been led by members of C.S.S. Albemarle’s crew.
1897 – The Lattimer Massacre was the violent deaths of 19 unarmed striking immigrant anthracite coal miners at the Lattimer mine near Hazleton, Pennsylvania. The miners, mostly of Polish, Slovak, Lithuanian and German ethnicity, were shot and killed by a Luzerne County sheriff’s posse. Scores more workers were wounded. This initial incident did not result in military activity, but 2500 troops of the Third Brigade of the Pennsylvania National Guard were deployed to restore order to the resulting mob rule and prevented a reprisal by mine workers on the 20th. The artillery units were withdrawn on the 24th and all troops were returned home by the 29th.
1919 – New York City welcomed home Gen. John J. Pershing and 25,000 soldiers who had served in the U.S. First Division during World War I.
1925 – Submarine R-4 rescues crew of PN-9 10 miles from their destination of Hawaii.
1939 – The government of Canada declares war on Germany. The Canadians are the last of the great Dominions to declare war, however, the few days of hesitation permits the accelerated delivery from the US of large amounts of war goods which are now barred under American neutrality laws.
1942 – Following the example of several European nations, President Franklin D. Roosevelt mandated gasoline rationing in the U.S. as part of the country’s wartime efforts. Gasoline rationing was just one of the many measures taken during these years, as the entire nation was transformed into a unified war machine: women took to the factories, households tried to conserve energy, and American automobile manufacturers began producing tanks and planes. The gasoline ration was lifted in 1945, at the end of World War II.
1943 – On the Salerno beachhead, the forces of the American 6th Corps advance inland. The forces of the British 10th Corps occupy Montecorvino airfield and Battipaglia. German counterattacks by local divisional forces recapture the British gains before nightfall.
1943 – There is heavy fighting on Arundel island. More American reinforcements are sent to the island.
1944 – Troops of the US 1st Army (part of US 12th Army Group) enter Luxembourg.
1944 – General Eisenhower, commanding the AEF, accepts a proposal by Field Marshal Montgomery (commanding British 21st Army Group) to conduct a series of airborne assaults to capture bridges in Holland and allow a rapid advance to the Rhine River (Operation Market Garden).
1944 – The US 2nd Corps (part of US 5th Army) attacks toward Futa and Il Giogo Passes to the north of Florence.
1944 – Three groups of US Task Force 38, with 12 carriers, conduct air strikes on Japanese airfields on Mindanao Island.
1945 – At a meeting of the Allied Control Commission (Zhukov, Eisenhower, Montgomery and Koenig), it is decided to transmit to all neutral states a request for the return to Germany of “all German officials and obnoxious Germans” now in those countries. The states affected are Afghanistan, Eire (Ireland), Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland as well as Vatican City and the Tangier Zone.
1945 – General MacArthur order the dissolution of the Imperial general headquarters and imposes censorship of the printed press and radio.
1948 – Mildred Gillars, accused of being Nazi wartime radio broadcaster “Axis Sally,” was indicted in Washington, D.C., on treason charges. She was later convicted, and served 12 years in prison.
1963 – Maj. Gen. Victor Krulak, USMC, Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Joseph Mendenhall of the State Department report to President John F. Kennedy on their fact-finding mission to Vietnam. The president had sent them to make a firsthand assessment of the situation in Vietnam with regard to the viability of the government there and the progress of the war. Having just returned from a whirlwind four-day visit, their perceptions differed greatly. Krulak concluded that progress was being made in the war against the Viet Cong, but Mendenhall perceived from talks with bureaucrats and politicians that the Diem regime in Saigon was near collapse and lacking popular support among the South Vietnamese people. A frustrated Kennedy responded, “You two did visit the same country, didn’t you?” This was emblematic of the problem that faced the American president as he tried to determine what to do about the situation in Vietnam. Two months later, the Kennedy administration decided that the Diem government was too far gone to save and told opposition South Vietnamese generals that they would not oppose a coup. The coup began on November 1, 1963, and Diem and his brother were murdered in the early morning hours of the following day. President Kennedy was assassinated shortly thereafter on November 22. His successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson oversaw a steady escalation of the war that ultimately involved the commitment of more than half a million U.S. troops.
1963 – 20 black students entered public schools in Birmingham, Tuskegee and Mobile, Ala., following a standoff between federal authorities and Gov. George C. Wallace. President John F. Kennedy federalized Alabama’s National Guard to prevent Governor George C. Wallace from using guardsmen to stop public-school desegregation.
1964 – Following the Tonkin Gulf incidents, in which North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked U.S. destroyers, and the subsequent passage of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution empowering him to react to armed attacks, President Lyndon Johnson authorizes a series of measures “to assist morale in South Vietnam and show the Communists [in North Vietnam] we still mean business.” These measures included covert action such as the resumption of the DeSoto intelligence patrols and South Vietnamese coastal raids to harass the North Vietnamese. Premier Souvanna Phouma of Laos was also asked to allow the South Vietnamese to make air and ground raids into southeastern Laos, along with air strikes by Laotian planes and U.S. armed aerial reconnaissance to cut off the North Vietnamese infiltration along the route that became known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Eventually, U.S. warplanes would drop over 2 million tons of bombs on Laos as part of Operations Steel Tiger and Tiger Hound between 1965 and 1973.
1979 – Four Puerto Rican nationalists imprisoned for a 1954 attack on the House of Representatives and a 1950 attempt on the life of President Truman were granted clemency by President Carter.
1996 – Saddam Hussein announced the lifting of all travel restrictions to or within the Kurdish zone.
1997 – The $250 million Mars Global Surveyor successfully went into orbit around Mars for its 2 year mapping mission.
1999 – Eleven Puerto Rican nationalists were freed under the clemency deal offered by Pres. Clinton. The US government began freeing 14 Puerto Rican nationalists granted clemency by President Clinton.
2000 – The US federal government agreed to drop its case against Wen Ho Lee, a former Los Alamos scientist, in exchange for a single guilty plea for downloading classified material to an insecure computer. Lee was released 3 days later.
2000 – The space shuttle Atlantis docked with the international space station.
2001 – Iraq said it shot down a 2nd US spy plane. The US reported an unmanned plane missing.
2002 – The Bush administration raised the nationwide terror alert to yellow, its second-highest level, closed nine U.S. embassies overseas and heightened security at federal buildings and landmarks in America on the eve of the Sept. 11 anniversary.
2002 – It was reported that US forces in Afghanistan had launched Operation Champion Strike in the Bermel Valley aimed at re-entering al Qaeda.
2002 – The Iraqi vice-president, Taha Yassin Ramadan, tells a press conference in Jordan that “the aggression on Iraq is an aggression on all the Arab nation. It is the right of all the Arab people, wherever they are, to fight against the aggression through their representatives and on their soil … by all means….We call on all Arab and good people to confront the interests of the aggressors, their materials and humans wherever they are because this is a human right.”
2005 – Operation Restoring Rights begins in which approximately 5,000 soldiers from the 3rd Division of the Iraqi Security Force in conjunction with 3,500 troops from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division entered the city of Tal Afar. The operation lasted until October and resulted in 10,000 pounds of explosives being uncovered and destroyed. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi accused the American military of using “poisonous gases” on Tal Afar in an audiotape received and posted on an Islamic website. The United States denied using chemical weapons in Tal Afar saying such reports were propaganda created by Abu-Mus’ab al-Zarqawi and were false and without merit. There was an incident in which US troops wore gas masks after discovering chlorine-based chemicals. The operation tested a new strategy of “clear, hold, build”, in which areas would be purged of insurgents and then occupied and then rebuilt to win support from local people before being handed over to the Iraqi security forces. An ambitious reconstruction effort was immediately implemented. New sewers were dug and the fronts of shops, destroyed in the assault, were replaced within weeks. Numerous police stations were built or rebuilt in the town by an Anglo-American construction team led by Huw Thomas. In March 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush pointed to Tal Afar as a success story, where one could “see the outlines of the Iraq we’ve been fighting for”. The operation was considered one of the first successful counterinsurgency operations in Iraq. Colonel H.R. McMaster, commander of the operation became an advisor to General David Petraeus in the planning and execution of the 2007 troop surge.
2006 – A lengthy statement from al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks calls on Muslims to step up their resistance against the United States.
2007 – In a speech made to Congress, General Petraeus “envisioned the withdrawal of roughly 30,000 U.S. troops by next summer, beginning with a Marine contingent [in September].” He warns against a too rapid withdrawal.
2010 – The Battle of the Palm Grove, a 4 day engagement, took place during the Iraq War when elements of the Second Advise and Assist Brigade (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), 25th ID of the US Army supported 200 Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police in a search and sweep operation against 15-25 insurgents planting IEDs in Hudaidy, Diyala Province. During the fighting, Apache attack helicopters and Air Force F-16 fighters were called in. The fighter jets dropped two 500-lb. bombs, but it seemed to no effect. After three days of clashes, the insurgent force managed to withdraw without suffering any casualties, while up to 33 members of the Iraqi security forces were killed or wounded and even two U.S. soldiers were also injured. The battle showed the continuing struggle of the Iraqi security forces with their abilities to take control of the security in the country, without the U.S. military. In the words of an Iraqi lieutenant, If it wasn’t for the American air support and artillery we would never have dreamed of entering that orchard. It was also the last major battle of the war involving U.S. forces against insurgent elements.
2012 – A new United States national strategy to prevent suicides is to be released by the Surgeon General, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Army Secretary. It will include, among others, the use of social medium Facebook as a tactic.
2013 – Barack Obama, the President of the United States, gives a televised address to the nation, saying that he has asked the United States Congress to postpone a vote on the use of force in Syria while he pursues a diplomatic solution.
2014 – The President of the United States Barack Obama authorises $25 million for “immediate military assistance” to the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional Government. He also outlines plans to expand US operations against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant to Syria in a televised address to the nation.
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