1609 – Henry Hudson discovers Manhattan Island and the indigenous people living there.
1775 – Benedict Arnold’s expedition to Quebec leaves Cambridge, Massachusetts. Colonel Benedict Arnold led a force of 1,100 Continental Army troops on an expedition from Cambridge, Massachusetts to the gates of Quebec City. Part of a two-pronged invasion of the British Province of Quebec, his expedition passed through the wilderness of what is now Maine. The other expedition, led by Richard Montgomery, invaded Quebec from Lake Champlain. Unanticipated problems beset the expedition as soon as it left the last significant colonial outposts in Maine. The portages up the Kennebec River proved grueling, and the boats frequently leaked, ruining gunpowder and spoiling food supplies. More than a third of the men turned back before reaching the height of land between the Kennebec and Chaudière rivers. The areas on either side of the height of land were swampy tangles of lakes and streams, and the traversal was made more difficult by bad weather and inaccurate maps. Many of the troops lacked experience handling boats in white water, which led to the destruction of more boats and supplies in the descent to the Saint Lawrence River via the fast-flowing Chaudière. By the time Arnold reached the French settlements above the Saint Lawrence River in November, his force was reduced to 600 starving men. They had traveled about 350 miles (560 km) through poorly charted wilderness, twice the distance they had expected to cover. Assisted by the local French-speaking Canadiens, Arnold’s troops crossed the Saint Lawrence on November 13 and 14 and attempted to put Quebec City under siege. Failing in this, they withdrew to Point-aux-Trembles until Montgomery arrived to lead an unsuccessful attack on the city. Arnold was rewarded for his effort in leading the expedition with a promotion to brigadier general.
1776 – British–American peace conference on Staten Island fails to stop the American War of Independence. The conference took place at Billop Manor, the residence of Colonel Christopher Billop, on Staten Island, New York. The participants were the British Admiral Lord Richard Howe, and members of the Second Continental Congress John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Edward Rutledge. Since Lord Howe’s authority was, by design, extremely limited, the Congressional delegation was pessimistic about the meeting’s outcome. The conference, held in the days after the British capture of Long Island, lasted just three hours and was a failure. The Americans insisted on recognition of their recently declared independence, and Howe’s limited authority was inadequate to deal with that development. After the conference, the British continued their military campaign for control of New York City.
1777 – General George Washington and his troops were defeated by the British under General Sir William Howe at the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania between the American army of General George Washington and the British army of General Sir William Howe. The British defeated the Americans and forced them to withdraw toward the American capital of Philadelphia. The engagement occurred near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania during Howe’s campaign to take Philadelphia, part of the American Revolutionary War. Howe’s army sailed from New York City and landed near Elkton, Maryland in northern Chesapeake Bay. Marching north, the British Army brushed aside American light forces in a few skirmishes. Washington offered battle with his army posted behind Brandywine Creek. While part of his army demonstrated in front of Chadds Ford, Howe took the bulk of his troops on a long march that crossed the Brandywine beyond Washington’s right flank. Due to poor scouting, the Americans did not detect Howe’s column until it reached a position in rear of their right flank. Belatedly, three divisions were shifted to block the British flanking force near a Quaker meeting house. After a stiff fight, Howe’s wing broke through the newly formed American right wing which was deployed on several hills. At this point Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen attacked Chadds Ford and crumpled the American left wing. As Washington’s army streamed away in retreat, he brought up elements of Nathanael Greene’s division which held off Howe’s column long enough for his army to escape to the northeast. The defeat and subsequent maneuvers left Philadelphia vulnerable. The British captured the city on September 26, beginning an occupation that would last until June 1778.
1783 – Benjamin Franklin drafted the Treaty of Paris.
1786 – The US Convention of Annapolis opened with the aim of revising the Articles of Confederation.
1813 – British troops arrive in Mount Vernon and prepare to march to and invade Washington, D.C..
1814 – During the Battle of Plattsburg on Lake Champlain, a newly built U.S. fleet under Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough destroys a British squadron, forcing the British to abandon their siege of the U.S. fort at Plattsburg and retreat to Canada on foot. The American victory saved New York from possible invasion and helped lead to the conclusion of peace negotiations between Britain and the United States in Ghent, Belgium. The War of 1812 began on June 18, 1812, when the United States declared war on Britain. The war declaration, opposed by a sizable minority in Congress, had been called in response to the British economic blockade of France, the induction of American seamen into the British Royal Navy against their will, and the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier. A faction of Congress known as the “War Hawks” had been advocating war with Britain for several years and had not hidden their hopes that a U.S. invasion of Canada might result in significant territorial gains for the United States. In the months after President James Madison proclaimed the state of war to be in effect, American forces launched a three-point invasion of Canada, all of which were decisively unsuccessful. In 1814, with Napoleon Bonaparte’s French empire collapsing, the British were able to allocate more military resources to the American war, and Washington, D.C., fell to the British in August. In Washington, British troops burned the White House, the Capitol, and other buildings in retaliation for the earlier burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. soldiers. In September 1814, the tide of the war turned when Thomas Macdonough’s American naval force won a decisive victory at the Battle of Plattsburg, New York. The American victory on Lake Champlain led to the conclusion of U.S.-British peace negotiations in Belgium, and on December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, formally ending the War of 1812. By the terms of the agreement, all conquered territory was to be returned, and a commission would be established to settle the boundary of the United States and Canada. British forces assailing the Gulf Coast were not informed of the treaty in time, and on January 8, 1815, the U.S. forces under Andrew Jackson achieved the greatest American victory of the war at the Battle of New Orleans. The American public heard of Jackson’s victory and the Treaty of Ghent at approximately the same time, fostering a greater sentiment of self-confidence and shared identity throughout the young republic.
1826 – Captain William Morgan is arrested in Batavia, New York for debt. This sets into motion the events that lead to his mysterious disappearance. The allegations surrounding Morgan’s disappearance and presumed death sparked a public outcry and inspired Thurlow Weed and others to harness the discontent by founding the new Anti-Masonic Party in opposition to President Andrew Jackson’s Democrats. It ran a presidential candidate in 1832 but was nearly defunct by 1835.
1857 – Mormon guerillas, stoked by religious zeal and a deep resentment of decades of public abuse and federal interference, murder 120 emigrants at Mountain Meadows, Utah. Although historical accounts differ, the conflict with the wagon train of emigrants from Missouri and Arkansas apparently began when the Mormons refused to sell the train any supplies. Some of the emigrants then began to commit minor depredations against Mormon fields, abuse the local Paiute Indians, and taunt the Mormons with reminders of how the Missourians had attacked and chased them out of that state during the 1830s. Angered by the emigrants’ abuse and fired by a zealous passion against the growing tide of invading gentiles, a group of Mormons guerillas from around Cedar City decided to take revenge. Cooperating with a group of Paiute Indians who had already attacked the train on their own initiative, the Mormon guerillas initially pretended to be protectors. The guerillas persuaded the emigrants that they had convinced the Paitues to let them go if they would surrender their arms and allow the Mormons to escort the wagon train through the territory. But as the train again moved forward under the Mormon escort, a guerilla leader gave a pre-arranged signal. The Mormons opened fire on the unarmed male emigrants, while the Paiutes reportedly murdered the women. Later accounts suggested that some Mormons had only fired in the air while others killed as few of the emigrants as they could. But when the shooting stopped in Mountain Meadows, 120 men and women were dead. Only 18 small children were spared. As a direct result of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the U.S. government demanded a new settlement from Brigham Young. In 1858, the Mormons agreed to accept a continued presence of federal troops and a Gentile governor for Utah Territory. No further significant Mormon-Gentile violence occurred, and the Latter Day Saints were thereafter largely left to govern themselves. But the era of complete Mormon domination of Utah ended as a result of the tragedy that day in Mountain Meadows.
1861 – Confederate troops under General Robert E. Lee move into position against a Union stronghold on Cheat Mountain in western Virginia, only to retreat three days later without firing a shot. The first few months of the war in western Virginia did not go well for the Confederates. The independent-minded inhabitants of the region generally rejected secession, and a movement was under way to separate from Virginia and remain with the Union. Lee said of the area, “Our citizens beyond this point are all on their side.” In the summer of 1861, Union forces had defeated the Confederates several times and secured the mountainous region’s major east-west transportation routes. Now, Confederate President Jefferson Davis dispatched Lee, his top military advisor, to the field in order to salvage the region. Although he arrived as a consultant to General William Loring, Lee was the ranking officer. The Union commander in western Virginia, General William Rosecrans, established a long front between the Kanawha and Potomac Rivers, along which the Federals established a stronghold on Cheat Mountain. Lee felt that an offensive against Cheat Mountain was the only way to break the Union front. He realized that the Rebel forces in the area where hardly in shape for such a move. Many were sick, and the weather was particularly rainy. However, the Confederates found a hidden and unguarded route to the top of Cheat Mountain. On September 11, Colonel Albert Rust, commander of the 3rd Arkansas, led a party up the trail and positioned for an assault. The plan called for a surprise attack by Rust, who would be joined by other Confederate detachments from the valley. But after capturing some Union pickets, Rust was convinced that the Union garrison numbered at least 4,000 with reinforcements on the way. In fact, just 300 Yankees manned the defenses on the mountain. Discouraged, Rust retreated while the main Confederate column waited in the valley below. On September 14, the Confederates pulled away without firing a shot. The campaign was a fiasco, and it damaged Lee’s reputation. Part of the problem at Cheat Mountain was that Lee’s role was not well defined, and Loring often dismissed his suggestions. It was an ignominious start to Lee’s Civil War career, but his future achievements easily erased any tarnish the Cheat Mountain campaign put on his reputation.
1862 – U.S.S. Patroon, Acting Master William D. Urann, and U.S.S. Uncas, Acting Master Crane, engaged Confederate batteries at St. John’s Bluff, Florida. Uncas suffered damage, but temporarily forced the abandonment of the batteries.
1864 – A 10-day truce was declared between generals Sherman and Hood so civilians could leave Atlanta, Georgia.
1864 – Acting Lieutenant Wiggin led an expedition up Fish River at Mobile Bay to seize an engine used by Confederates in a sawmill and to assist Union soldiers in obtaining lumber. Tinclad U.S.S. Rodolph, Acting Lieutenant George D. Upham, and wooden side-wheeler U.S.S. Stockdale, Acting Master Spiro V. Bennis, with Wiggin embarked, convoyed Army transport Planter to Smith’s mill, where they took the engine, 60,000 feet of lumber, and some livestock. Loading the lumber on board a barge in tow of Planter took almost until nightfall, and in the dusk of the return down-stream, Confederate riflemen took the ships under fire and felled trees ahead of them. The gun-boats returned the fire rapidly and Rodolph broke through the obstructions, enabling the remaining ships to pass downriver.
1904 – The battleship Connecticut, launched in New York, introduced a new era in naval construction.
1918 – US troops landed in Russia to fight the Bolsheviks.
1918 – Often called the “war of the machines,” World War I marked the beginning of a new kind of warfare, fought with steel and shrapnel. Automotive manufacturers led the way in this new technology of war, producing engines for planes, building tanks, and manufacturing military vehicles. Packard was at the forefront of these efforts, being among the first American companies to completely cease civilian car production. Packard had already been the largest producer of trucks for the Allies, but the company began devoting all of its facilities to war production on this day, just a few months before the end of the war. Even after Packard resumed production of civilian vehicles, its wartime engines appeared in a number of vehicles, from racing cars and boats to British tanks in the next world war.
1919 – US marines invaded Honduras (again).
1939 – Bear (AG-29) is commissioned by the U.S. Navy for Antarctic operations under command of RADM Richard Byrd, USN (Ret.).
1939 – Churchill begins correspondence with Roosevelt which he signs as “A Naval Person”.
1941 – As a result of public outrage over the Greer incident, the president announces that American warships will be able to “shoot on sight” to ensure the protection of waters “necessary for American defense.” This formalizes a situation which has been commonly occurring.
1941 – Ground is broken for the construction of The Pentagon.
1942 – Wheeler Bryson Lipes (1921-2005), a US Navy pharmacist’s mate, saved the life of sailor Darrell Dean Rector (19) by operating, following a medical manual, in the officer’s mess aboard the Seadragon below the surface of the South China Sea. George Weller (d.2002), war correspondent, won the Pulitzer in 1943 for his account of the operation.
1943 – On the Salerno beachhead, British and American forces of the US 5th Army fail to make significant progress against German resistance. German aircraft bomb the beachhead throughout the day despite the presence of Allied air forces. The cruiser Savannah is damaged by a German glider bomb.
1943 – The US 27th Infantry Regiment lands on Arundel, reinforcing American forces.
1944 – Leading elements of US 1st Army reach Germany north of Trier where Malmedy is occupied.
1944 – Lead forces of US 7th Army capture Dijon and link up with elements of French 2nd Armored Division (part of US 3rd Army) near Sombernon.
1944 – In the west of Italy, forces of US 5th Army continue to advance.
1944 – The Octagon Conference begins. Churchill and Roosevelt and their staffs meet in Quebec to discuss strategy.
1945 – General Hideki Tojo, former prime minister (October 1941 to July 1944), attempts suicide when American troops arrived at his house to arrest him, on General MacArthur’s instructions, as a war criminal. Though shooting himself with a revolver below the heart, the wound is not fatal, and after blood transfusions and penicillin administration at the American hospital at Yokahama his condition improves.
1952 – Six Marine Corps F9F-4s from VMF-115 crashed into a mountain during an instrument letdown in the vicinity of airfield K-2, Korea. All pilots were killed instantly.
1965 – 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) begins to arrive in South Vietnam at Qui Nhon, bringing U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam to more than 125,000. The unit, which had a long and storied history, was the first full U.S. Army division deployed to Vietnam. The division consisted of nine battalions of airmobile infantry, an air reconnaissance squadron, and six battalions of artillery. The division also included the 11th Aviation Group, made up of three aviation battalions consisting of 11 companies of assault helicopters, assault support helicopters, and gunships. The division used a new concept by which the ground maneuver elements were moved around the battlefield by helicopters. Initially deployed to the II Corps area at Qui Nhon, the division took part in the first major engagement between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces during the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley fought in November, just two months after the division began arriving in Vietnam. Later, the division moved further north to I Corps in 1968 to relieve the embattled U.S. Marines at Hue during the Tet Offensive; in October of the same year, they redeployed to III Corps to conduct operations to protect Saigon; and in 1970, the division took part in the invasion of Cambodia and conducted operations in both III and IV Corps (the Mekong Delta). Thus, the 1st Cavalry Division, popularly known as the “First Team,” was the only American division to fight in all four corps tactical zones. The bulk of the division began departing Vietnam in late April 1970, but the 3rd Brigade remained until June 1972. The 1st Cavalry Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and “First Team” soldiers won 25 Medals of Honor, 120 Distinguished Service Crosses, 2,766 Silver Stars, 2,697 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 8,408 Bronze Stars for Valor.
1968 – A major battle begins for control of Tay Ninh City. More than 1,500 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong attacked the provincial capital, capturing part of the city. The next day, 2,000 South Vietnamese reinforcements were sent in to aid the local garrison and after a four-day battle, the North Vietnamese were driven out of the city. Elsewhere, South Vietnamese forces launched Operation Lam Son 261 in Thua Thien and Quang Tri Provinces in I Corps Tactical Zone. The operation lasted until April 24, 1969, resulting in 724 enemy casualties.
1969 – Heavy bombing of Vietnam resumed under orders from President Nixon.
1990 – President Bush addressed Congress on the Persian Gulf crisis, vowing that “Saddam Hussein will fail” in his takeover of Kuwait.
1990 – The 4th MEB embarked and arrived in the Gulf of Oman in support of Desert Shield.
1992 – President Bush announced he was approving the sale of 72 F-15 jet fighters to Saudi Arabia.
1997 – The US Army issued a searing indictment of itself, asserting that “sexual harassment exists throughout the Army, crossing gender, rank and racial lines.”
1997 – NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor reaches Mars.
2001 – At 8:45 a.m. on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The impact left a gaping, burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more in higher floors. As the evacuation of the tower and its twin got underway, television cameras broadcasted live images of what initially appeared to be a freak accident. Then, 18 minutes after the first plane hit, a second Boeing 767–United Airlines Flight 175–appeared out of the sky, turned sharply toward the World Trade Center, and sliced into the south tower at about the 60th floor. The collision caused a massive explosion that showered burning debris over surrounding buildings and the streets below. America was under attack. The attackers were Islamic terrorists from Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations. Reportedly financed by Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist organization, they were allegedly acting in retaliation for America’s support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War, and its continued military presence in the Middle East. Some of the terrorists had lived in the United States for more than a year and had taken flying lessons at American commercial flight schools. Others had slipped into the U.S. in the months before September 11 and acted as the “muscle” in the operation. The 19 terrorists easily smuggled box-cutters and knives through security at three East Coast airports and boarded four flights bound for California, chosen because the planes were loaded with fuel for the long transcontinental journey. Soon after takeoff, the terrorists commandeered the four planes and took the controls, transforming the ordinary commuter jets into guided missiles. As millions watched in horror the events unfolding in New York, American Airlines Flight 77 circled over downtown Washington and slammed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters at 9:45 a.m. Jet fuel from the Boeing 757 caused a devastating inferno that led to a structural collapse of a portion of the giant concrete building. All told, 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon along with all 64 people aboard the airliner. Less than 15 minutes after the terrorists struck the nerve center of the U.S. military, the horror in New York took a catastrophic turn for the worse when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in a massive cloud of dust and smoke. The structural steel of the skyscraper, built to withstand winds in excess of 200 mph and a large conventional fire, could not withstand the tremendous heat generated by the burning jet fuel. At 10:30 a.m., the other Trade Center tower collapsed. Close to 4,000 people died in the World Trade Center and its vicinity, including a staggering 343 firefighters and 23 policemen who were struggling to complete an evacuation of the buildings and save the office workers trapped on higher floors. Only six people in the World Trade Center towers at the time of their collapse survived. Almost 10,000 other people were treated for injuries, many severe. Meanwhile, a fourth California-bound plane–United Flight 93–was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving Newark International Airport in New Jersey. Because the plane had been delayed in taking off, passengers on board learned of events in New York and Washington via cell phone and Airfone calls to the ground. Knowing that the aircraft was not returning to an airport as the hijackers claimed, a group of passengers and flight attendants planned an insurrection. One of the passengers, Thomas Burnett, Jr., told his wife over the phone that “I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.” Another passenger–Todd Beamer–was heard saying “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll” over an open line. Sandy Bradshaw, a flight attendant, called her husband and explained that she had slipped into a galley and was filling pitchers with boiling water. Her last words to him were “Everyone’s running to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.” The passengers fought the four hijackers and are suspected to have attacked the cockpit with a fire extinguisher. The plane then flipped over and sped toward the ground at upwards of 500 miles per hour, crashing in a rural field in western Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. All 45 people aboard were killed. Its intended target is not known, but theories include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, or one of several nuclear power plants along the eastern seaboard. At 7 p.m., President George W. Bush, who had spent the day being shuttled around the country because of security concerns, returned to the White House. At 9 p.m., he delivered a televised address from the Oval Office, declaring “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” In a reference to the eventual U.S. military response he declared: “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S.-led international effort to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and destroy Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network based there, began on October 7.
2002 – In Karachi, Pakistan, 2 al Qaeda suspects were killed and 5 captured after police stormed an apartment. Key al Qaeda member Ramzi Binalshibh, who is wanted by Germany for his alleged role in planning and carrying out the hijacked plane attacks on the US, was arrested after a long running gun battle in Pakistan.
2002 – The “Don’t Tread on Me” First Navy Jack is flown by Navy ships marking the first anniversary of the terrorists attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
2005 – An eleven minute video tape purporting to be from Al Qaeda is delivered to American network ABC in Pakistan and shown on Good Morning America, warns of future attacks on Los Angeles, California and Melbourne, Australia. Adam Yahiye Gadahn, an American convert to Islam, called the September 11, 2001 attacks “blessed events” and commenting on possible attacks in the future stated, “This time, don’t count on us demonstrating restraint and compassion.”
2008 – The Pentagon Memorial in Washington, DC, dedicated to the 184 people who died in the attack on the building on September 11, 2001, is opened to the public.
2012 – Islamic militants attacked the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith. Stevens was the first U.S. Ambassador killed on duty since 1979. Three members of the team responsible for the Embassy’s security believe that Stevens would have survived the attack had they not been delayed three times for thirty minutes by the top CIA officer in Benghazi. Several hours later, a second assault targeted a different compound about one mile away, killing two CIA contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty. Ten others were also injured in the attacks