This Day in U.S. Military History…… September 12

12 September
1609 – English explorer Henry Hudson sailed into the river that now bears his name. Hudson sailed for the Dutch East India Company in search of the Northwest Passage, a water route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, when he sailed up the present-day Hudson River.
1786 – Despite his failed efforts to suppress the American Revolution, Lord Cornwallis was appointed governor general of India.
1814 – A British fleet under Sir Alexander Cochrane began the bombardment of Fort McHenry, the last American defense before Baltimore. Lawyer Francis Scott Key had approached the British attackers seeking the release of a friend who was being held for unfriendly acts toward the British. Key himself was detained overnight on September 13 and witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry from a British ship. As the sun rose, Key was amazed to see the American flag still flying over the battered fort. This experience inspired Key to write the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” and adapt them to the tune of a well-known British drinking song. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was officially recognized as the national anthem in 1931.
1814 – The Battle of North Point was fought near Baltimore during War of 1812 between General John Stricker’s Maryland Militia and a British force led by Major General Robert Ross. Although the Americans retreated, they were able to do so in good order having inflicted significant casualties on the British, killing one of the commanders of the invading force, significantly demoralizing the troops under his command and leaving some of his units lost among woods and swampy creeks, with others in confusion. This combination prompted British colonel Arthur Brooke to delay his advance against Baltimore, buying valuable time to properly prepare for the defense of the city as Stricker retreated back to the main defenses to bolster the existing force. The engagement was a part of the larger Battle of Baltimore, an American victory in the War of 1812.
1847 – The Battle of Chapultepec was a United States victory over Mexican forces holding Chapultepec Castle west of Mexico City during the Mexican-American War. The Americans began an artillery barrage against Chapultepec at dawn. It was halted at dark and resumed at first light the next day. At 8 AM, the bombardment was halted and Winfield Scott ordered the infantry attack. There were three assault columns. On the left were the 11th and 14th Infantry under Colonel William Trousdale moving east along the Anzures aqueduct, in the center were four companies of the Voltigeur regiment under Colonel Timothy Patrick Andrews along with the 9th and 15th Infantry moving through the swamp and western edge of the grove, and on the right were the remaining four Voltigeur companies under Lieutenant Colonel Joseph E. Johnston. Pillow was quickly hit in the foot and called for reinforcements, which came from John A. Quitman’s division but the attack faltered when fired upon by the Moelia Battalion battery. Andrews’s column cleared the grove of Mexican troops and linked up with Johnston. Yet, the attack by the 9th and 15th Infantry stalled waiting for scaling ladders, and Col. Truman B. Ransom was killed. Quitman sent Persifor Smith’s brigade to his right and brought in James Shields, plus the New York and 2d Pennsylvania Regiments into the assault. At the same time, Newman S. Clarke’s brigade arrived on the western slope, as did the scaling ladders. The Voltigeurs soon planted their flag on the parapet. By 9 AM, General Bravo surrendered to the New York Regiment and the American flag flew over the castle. Santa Anna watched the Americans take Chapultepec while an aide exclaimed “let the Mexican flag never be touched by a foreign enemy”. He also exclaimed, “I believe if we were to plant our batteries in Hell the damned Yankees would take them from us.”
1861 – Confederate General Sterling Price continues his campaign to secure Missouri in the early days of the war by converging on a Union garrison at Lexington, Missouri. The nine-day siege ended with the surrender of the Federals. The Battle of Lexington followed shortly after the much larger Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861. That engagement, in southwestern Missouri, resulted in heavy losses and the scattering of the Union force in the area. Price, who was also the Confederate commander at Wilson’s Creek, now headed north to expand the Confederates’ hold on the state. On September 12, he arrived in Lexington, a wealthy community just east of Kansas City, with part of his force, which eventually numbered 10,000 men—most of them veterans of Wilson’s Creek. Just a few days before, a Union brigade of Irish soldiers from Chicago had joined a small cavalry detachment to defend the town. Union troops numbered about 2,500. The Union commander, Colonel James Mulligan, began building fortifications just prior to Price’s advance. On September 12, skirmishes broke out between the forces but Price decided to wait until the rest of his force arrived before taking further action against Mulligan’s garrison. By September 17, Price’s ammunition wagons arrived and his men encircled the town. The Confederates cut the water supply and waited. On September 20, the Southerners advanced on the fortifications by rolling large bales of hemp, which had been dipped in river water so they would not catch fire, in front of them. As the lines crept toward them, Union soldiers began surrendering. Price secured the town with only 25 men killed and 72 wounded. Federal losses numbered 39 dead and 120 wounded.
1862 – The Battle of Harpers Ferry took place in Virginia.
1860 – William Walker (b.1824), US adventurer, was convicted and executed by the government of Honduras. The British had arrested him and turned him over to the government.
1916 – First demonstration of automatic stabilization and direction gear in aircraft.
1917 – General John J. Pershing selected the 7th Marine Company to guard his headquarters in France.
1918 – The US First Army and the French II Colonial Corps launch a five day attack on the salient at St. Mihiel. It has been held continuously by the Germans since 1914. The advance is led by the First Army’s 1 and IV Corps which advance into the southern face of the salient and V Corp, which moves against the west face. The French II Colonial Corps is positioned between the US forces. The attack begins in thick fog and is supported by 600 aircraft commanded by US Colonel William “Billy” Mitchell, a staunch advocate of the value of air power. the attackers are facing nine German divisions in the front line and a further five held in reserve. German resistance collapses on the first day with the US attacks from the south and west linking up at the village of Hattonchatel. By the 16th the entire salient has been reduced.
1919 – Adolf Hitler joined the German Worker’s Party.
1938 – Adolf Hitler demands autonomy and self-determination for the Germans of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.
1939 – The US Navy begins regular neutrality patrols along the entire length of the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean.
1941 – The US ship Busko captured the 1st German ship in WW II.
1942 – On Guadalcanal, major attacks by the Japanese units, from General Kawaguchi’s 35th brigade, begin. Fighting is heavy especially around the aptly named “Bloody Ridge”. Reinforcements of aircraft are flown to the Americans from the USS Wasp.
1942 – German U-boat U-156 sinks the passenger liner Laconia, just south of the equator, off the coast of Africa. The passengers, service men’s wives and children and Italian prisoners of war are aided by the U-boat captain, Hartenstein, who surfaces and then radios in plain language to Allied authorities for help for them. Despite this conduct, an American plane attacks the U-boat. In response to the attack by the American plane, Admiral Doenitz orders that no U-boat commander may again attempt the rescue of civilians survivors. He also orders rescue boats from Dakar for the rest of the survivors of the Laconia. Of note, the “Laconia Order” forms one of the indictments against Admiral Doenitz at Nuremberg after the war.
1942 – The Battle of Edson’s Ridge, also known as the Battle of the Bloody Ridge, Battle of Raiders Ridge, and Battle of the Ridge, a land battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II between Imperial Japanese Army and Allied (mainly United States Marine Corps) ground forces, begins on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, and was the second of three separate major Japanese ground offensives during the Guadalcanal Campaign. In the battle, U.S. Marines, under the overall command of U.S. Major General Alexander Vandegrift, repulsed an attack by the Japanese 35th Infantry Brigade, under the command of Japanese Major General Kiyotake Kawaguchi. The Marines were defending the Lunga perimeter that guarded Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, which was captured from the Japanese by the Allies in landings on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942. Kawaguchi’s unit was sent to Guadalcanal in response to the Allied landings with the mission of recapturing the airfield and driving the Allied forces from the island. Underestimating the strength of Allied forces on Guadalcanal–about 12,000–Kawaguchi’s 6,000 soldiers conducted several nighttime frontal assaults on the U.S. defenses. The main Japanese assault occurred around Lunga ridge south of Henderson Field, manned by troops from several U.S. Marine Corps units, primarily troops from the 1st Raider and 1st Parachute Battalions under U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Merritt A. Edson. Although the Marine defenses were almost overrun, Kawaguchi’s attack was ultimately defeated, with heavy losses for the Japanese. Because of the key participation by Edson’s unit in defending the ridge, the ridge was commonly referred to as “Edson’s” ridge in historical accounts of the battle in Western sources. After Edson’s Ridge, the Japanese continued to send troops to Guadalcanal for further attempts to retake Henderson Field, affecting Japanese offensive operations in other areas of the South Pacific.
1943 – German paratroopers took Benito Mussolini from the hotel where he was being held by Italian resistance forces. Waffen-SS troops under Otto Skorzeny freed Mussolini at Gran Sasso in the Abruzzi Mountains.
1944 – During World War II, U.S. Army troops entered Germany for the first time, near Trier.
1944 – Three groups of US Task Force 38, with 12 carriers, conduct air strikes on Japanese positions on the Visayas or central Philippine islands.
1945 – Field Marshal Sugiyama, former Commander in Chief of the Japanese Home Army, commits suicide together with his wife. Meanwhile, General MacArthur orders the dissolution of the Black Dragon society (the secret terrorist organization which for many years played a prominent role in Japanese imperialist policies and had been responsible for many political assassinations) and the arrest of seven of its leaders.
1945 – British troops arrive in Saigon to accept surrender of the Japanese according to the terms of the Potsdam Conference. Most Vietnamese expect the Allies to support their independence. While the United States in principle favors a provisional international trusteeship for Vietnam, after Roosevelt’s death the United States signs a credit agreement with France for supply of vehicles and relief equipment to French authorities in Indochina. This is seen as US endorsement of the French reconquest.
1947 – The Screen Actors Guild adopts a voluntary “loyalty oath,” in which members must swear they are not members of the Communist Party. The oath was a defense against the House Un-American Activities Committee, which led extensive investigations into communism in Hollywood. Those directors and actors who refused to cooperate with the investigations were persecuted, blacklisted, and in some cases imprisoned for contempt of Congress. The Screen Actors Guild did not drop its oath until 1974.
1952 – USS Coral Sea (CVB-43) took Marshall Josip Tito for a one-day cruise in the Adriatic Sea where he was shown flight operations.
1953 – When the 6,000 ton ore carrier SS Maryland grounded off Marquette, Michigan, a Coast Guard helicopter, in the face of driving wind and rain that required the combined efforts of both pilots to hold the controls and stabilize the aircraft, removed 12 crew members with a breeches buoy without any casualties.
1958 – Jack Kilby, an engineer at Texas Instruments, demonstrates the first integrated circuit. Kilby, as a newly employed engineer, did not yet have the right to a summer vacation. He spent the summer working on the problem in circuit design that was commonly called the “tyranny of numbers” and finally came to the conclusion that manufacturing the circuit components en masse in a single piece of semiconductor material could provide a solution. He presented his findings in this demonstration to management, which included Mark Shepherd. He showed them a piece of germanium with an oscilloscope attached, pressed a switch, and the oscilloscope showed a continuous sine wave, proving that his integrated circuit worked and thus that he had solved the problem. U.S. Patent 3,138,743 for “Miniaturized Electronic Circuits”, the first integrated circuit, was filed on February 6, 1959.
1959 – North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong tells the French Consul: “You must remember we will be in Saigon tomorrow.” In November, he would tell the Canadian Commissioner: “We will drive the Americans into the sea.” The U.S. Embassy in Saigon eventually passed these remarks along to Washington as evidence of the deteriorating situation in South Vietnam. The United States had taken over from the French in the effort to stem the tide of communism in Southeast Asia. When President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961, he was faced with a dilemma in Laos and Vietnam. He decided that the line against communism had to be drawn in Vietnam and therefore he increased the number of military advisers to President Ngo Dinh Diem’s government in Saigon. By the time of his assassination in November 1963, there would be more than 16,000 U.S. advisers in South Vietnam. Under his successor, Lyndon Johnson, there would be a steady escalation of the war that ultimately resulted in the commitment of more than half a million U.S. troops in South Vietnam.
1960 – Marine Corps Museum opened at Quantico.
1966 – Launch of Gemini 11, piloted by CDR Charles Conrad Jr., USN and LCDR Richard F. Gordon Jr., USN. Their mission lasted 2 days and 23 hours and included 44 orbits at an altitude of 1368.9 km.. Recovery was by HS-3 helicopter from USS Guam (LPH-9).
1967 – Operation Coronado V began in Mekong Delta.
1970 – US professor Timothy Leary, LSD proponent, escaped from a California jail. Leary escaped from the State Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo with the help of his third wife, Rosemary and the Weather Underground. He went to Algiers and joined Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, who kidnapped the Learys after a political disagreement. They soon escaped and made their way to Afghanistan. In 1974 he was caught and revealed his collaborators to the FBI.
1972 – U.S. intelligence agencies (the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency) report to the National Security Council that the North Vietnamese have 100,000 regular troops in South Vietnam and can sustain fighting “at the present rate” for two years. The report further stated that while U.S. bombing had caused heavy casualties and prevented North Vietnam from doubling operations, the overall effects were disappointing because troops and supplies had kept moving south. It was estimated that 20,000 fresh troops had infiltrated into the South in the previous six weeks and that communist troops in the Mekong Delta had increased as much as tenfold – up to 30,000 – in the last year. This report was significant in that it showed that the North Vietnamese, who had suffered greatly since launching the Easter invasion on March 31, were steadily replacing their losses and maintaining troop levels in the south. These forces and their presence in South Vietnam were not addressed in the Paris Peace Accords that were signed in January 1973, and the North Vietnamese troops remained. Therefore, shortly after the ceasefire was initiated, new fighting erupted between the South Vietnamese forces and the North Vietnamese troops who remained in the South. The South Vietnamese held out for two years, but when the United States failed to honor the promises of continued support made by President Nixon (who resigned on August 9, 1974, in the wake of the Watergate scandal), the North Vietnamese launched a major offensive and the South Vietnamese were defeated in less than 55 days. Saigon fell on April 30, 1975.
1974 – In Boston, Massachusetts, opposition to court-ordered school “busing” turns violent on the opening day of classes. School buses carrying African American children were pelted with eggs, bricks, and bottles and police in combat gear fought to control angry white protesters besieging the schools. U.S. District Judge Arthur Garrity ordered the busing of African American students to predominantly white schools and white students to black schools in an effort to integrate Boston’s geographically segregated public schools. In his June 1974 ruling in Morgan v. Hennigan, Garrity stated that Boston’s de facto school segregation discriminated against black children. The beginning of forced busing on September 12 was met with massive protests, particularly in South Boston, the city’s main Irish-Catholic neighborhood. Protests continued unabated for months, and many parents, white and black, kept their children at home. In October, the National Guard was mobilized to enforce the federal desegregation order.
1986 – Joseph Cicippio, the acting comptroller at the American University in Beirut, was kidnapped; he was released in December 1991.
1991 – The space shuttle Discovery blasted off on a mission to deploy an observatory designed to study the Earth’s ozone layer.
1990 – Representatives from the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union sign an agreement giving up all occupation rights in Germany. The largely symbolic action cleared the way for East and West Germany to reunite. In 1945, the Allied Powers–America, England, France, and the Soviet Union–agreed that defeated Nazi Germany would be divided into four zones of occupation, one for each nation. Berlin would be likewise divided. The separation was intended to be temporary, but Cold War animosities quickly developed after World War II and the division between the Russian zone and those controlled by the other three nations became permanent. In the late 1940s, the American, French, and English zones were consolidated into West Germany and the Soviet zone became East Germany. The division came to symbolize the Cold War, and the divided Germany was the scene of many Cold War dramas, like the Berlin Airlift. In 1961, East German authorities began construction of the Berlin Wall, physically dividing East and West Berlin. By 1989, however, the communist grip on East Germany was rapidly slipping away. The Soviet Union, facing its own severe economic and political problems, could do little to prop up the East German communist regime. In November 1989, the East German government announced that the Berlin Wall would be torn down. The next year, representatives from East and West Germany began negotiations to finally reunite their country. Among the many obstacles to overcome was the historical legacy of occupation by the Allied forces. Although the four Allies had long since removed their occupation forces and given up most of their occupation rights, some treaty rights still technically remained–for instance, the four countries still had the right to “oversee” Berlin. On September 12, 1990, representatives from the four nations met in Moscow and formally gave up all remaining occupation rights in Germany. Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze declared, “We are going through emotional and historic events…We have drawn a line under World War II and we have started keeping the time of a new age.” In October 1990, East and West Germany formally reunited under a democratic government.
1992 – The space shuttle Endeavour blasted off, carrying with it Mark Lee and Jan Davis, the first married couple in space; Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space; and Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese citizen to fly on a U.S. spaceship.
1993 – The space shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral on a 10-day mission.
1994 – Frank Eugene Corder crashes a single-engine Cessna 150 into the White House’s south lawn, striking the West wing and killing himself.
1996 – The first African-American civil War memorial was dedicated in Washington DC.
1997 – The United Nations Security Council passes Resolution 1129 that allows Iraq to reach the $2.14 billion oil sales limit under its oil-for-food program by December 5. The current 6-month oil sales window, running from June 8 to December 5, will be split into a 120-day segment and a 60-day segment instead of two 90-day segments. During each segment Iraq can sell $1.07 billion worth of oil. The Resolution should enable Iraq to make up for lost revenues during a delay in the start of oil sales during the first two months of the current six month sale period.
1999 – North Korea agreed indirectly to freeze its missile testing program.
2001 – Pres. Bush called Tuesday’s terrorist attacks “acts of war.” Stunned rescue workers continued to search for bodies in the World Trade Center’s smoking rubble a day after a terrorist attack that shut down the financial capital, badly damaged the Pentagon and left thousands dead. The US began building a broad int’l. coalition for a possible military retaliation against those responsible for the terrorist attacks on Sep 11. Federal authorities said followers of Osama bin Laden were responsible for airline hijackings directed at NYC and the Pentagon. The US air system remained grounded and financial markets closed.
2001 – In Afghanistan Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader, went into hiding. The Taliban military repositioned weaponry in anticipation of a US strike.
2002 – Pres. Bush addressed the UN and laid out his case against Iraq’s Pres. Saddam Hussein. Bush told skeptical world leaders at the United Nations to confront the “grave and gathering danger” of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, or to stand aside as the United States acted. Bush was expected to announce US plans to rejoin Unesco, headquartered in Paris. France favored a demand for weapons inspectors in Iraq along with force if Iraq resisted.
2003 – The UN Security Council lifted 11-year-old sanctions on Libya after Moammar Gadhafi’s government took responsibility for bombing a Pan Am jet over Scotland and agreed to pay the victims’ families $2.7 billion.
2004 – In southern Afghanistan US forces backed by helicopter gunships killed 22 insurgents, including 3 Arab fighters.
2004 – Militants pounded central Baghdad with intense mortar barrages, targeting the Green Zone and destroying a U.S. vehicle along a major street.
2005 – Michael D. Brown resigns as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the United States (FEMA) following several days of criticism concerning his handling of the disaster following Hurricane Katrina, and allegations that his official biography is misleading and contains unsubstantiated claims.
2007 – While delivering food to Malian troops a US C-130 cargo plane was struck by machine gun rounds from suspected Turag rebels, no one was injured and the plane made it safely to its destination. So far, over 100 al-Qaeda militants have been killed by the hostile conditions of the Sahara Desert.
2010 – A U.S. and Afghan military offensive, called Operation Hamkari, focusing on the Afghan province of Kandahar was launched soon after the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which ended September 10. The offensive did not begin as one specific operation, but rather a series of operations in Kandahar City and its surrounding districts throughout the late summer and fall in 2010. Places where operations were conducted included Malajat, Zhari, Arghandab and the Horn of Panjwayi. These operations are credited with putting severe pressure on insurgent operations and increasing security in some key areas such as in Panjwayi. Unlike operations of previous years, Operation Hamkari featured the extensive use of Afghan National Security Forces, including the Afghan Border Police (ABP), led by Spin Boldak ABP Commander Gen. Abdul Razziq.
2011 – The 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City opens to the public. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum (also known as the 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Memorial Museum) is the principal memorial and museum commemorating the September 11 attacks of 2001, which killed 2,977 people, and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, which killed six. The memorial is located at the World Trade Center site, on the former location of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed during the attacks. The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation was renamed the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center in 2007. The winner of the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition was Israeli architect Michael Arad of Handel Architects, a New York- and San Francisco-based firm. Arad worked with landscape architecture firm Peter Walker and Partners on the design which calls for a forest of trees with two square pools in the center, where the Twin Towers once stood.

2013 – NASA announces the Voyager 1 space probe has left the solar system becoming the first man-made object to reach interstellar space.
2014 – NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover reaches its final destination Aeolis Mons, a mountain that rises 5.5 km at the center of Gale Crater.

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