This Day in U.S. Military History…… September 13

13 September
1609 – Henry Hudson reaches the river that would later be named after him – the Hudson River.
1759 – During the Seven Years War, a worldwide conflict known as the French and Indian War in America, the British under General James Wolfe achieve a dramatic victory when they scale the cliffs over the city of Quebec, defeating the Marquis de Montcalm’s French forces on the Plains of Abraham. Wolfe himself was fatally wounded during the battle, but his victory ensured British supremacy in Canada. Montcalm also suffered a mortal wound during the battle. In the early 1750s, French expansion into the Ohio River valley repeatedly brought France into armed conflict with the British colonies. In 1756–the first official year of fighting in the Seven Years War–the British suffered a series of defeats against the French and their broad network of Native American alliances. However, in 1757, British Prime Minister William Pitt (the older) recognized the potential of imperial expansion that would come out of victory against the French and borrowed heavily to fund an expanded war effort. Pitt financed Prussia’s struggle against France and her allies in Europe and reimbursed the colonies for the raising of armies in North America. By 1760, the French had been expelled from Canada, and by 1763 all of France’s allies in Europe had either made a separate peace with Prussia or had been defeated. In addition, Spanish attempts to aid France in the Americas had failed, and France also suffered defeats against British forces in India. The Seven Years War ended with the signing of the treaties of Hubertusburg and Paris in February 1763. In the Treaty of Paris, France lost all claims to Canada and gave Louisiana to Spain, while Britain received Spanish Florida, Upper Canada, and various French holdings overseas. The treaty ensured the colonial and maritime supremacy of Britain and strengthened the 13 American colonies by removing their European rivals to the north and the south. Fifteen years later, French bitterness over the loss of most of their colonial empire contributed to their intervention in the American Revolution on the side of the Patriots.
1782 – Franco-Spanish troops, acting abroad to distract British efforts from The American War of Independence, launch the unsuccessful “grand assault” during the Great Siege of Gibraltar. An attempt by Spain and France to capture Gibraltar from the British. This was the largest action fought during the war in terms of numbers, particularly the Grand Assault of 18 September 1782. At three years and seven months, it is the longest siege endured by the British Armed Forces.
1788 – The Congress of the Confederation authorized the first national election, and declared New York City the temporary national capital. The Constitutional Convention authorized the first federal election resolving that electors in all the states will be appointed on January 7, 1789. The Convention decreed that the first federal election would be held on the first Wednesday in February of the following year.
1789 – Start of the US National Debt as the government took out its first loan, borrowed from the Bank of North America (NYC) at 6 percent interest. The US debt had reached $77 million when Washington became president.
1803 – Commodore John Barry, considered by many the father of the American Navy, died in Philadelphia.
1812 – A supply wagon sent to relieve Fort Harrison is ambushed in the Attack at the Narrows. Following the relief army to Fort Harrison was a party of thirteen soldiers under Lieutenant Fairbanks of the Seventh Infantry escorting a supply wagon loaded with flour and meat. The supply wagon was ambushed by a Potawatomi war party at a part of the trail known as The Narrows, an area near modern Fairbanks, Indiana, which has many ravines that serve as tributaries to Prairie Creek. When the ambush was launched, the draft horses panicked and ran away with the wagon. Only two men – the wagoneer, John Black, and Private Edward Perdue – managed to escape back to Fort Knox alive, although Perdue was discharged due to the severe wounds he received. Luckily for the two survivors, the Potawatomi gave chase to the runaway supply wagon. Eleven soldiers and all the provisions were lost to the United States, and several Potawatomi warriors had been killed or wounded.
1813 – John Sedgwick (d.1864), Major General (Union volunteers), was born.
1814 – In a turning point in the War of 1812, the British fail to capture Baltimore. During the battle, Francis Scott Key composes his poem “Defence of Fort McHenry”, which is later set to music and becomes the United States’ national anthem.
1847 – General Winfield Scott wins the last major battle of the Mexican-American War, storming the ancient Chapultepec fortress at the edge of Mexico City. The war between the U.S. and its southern neighbor began the year before when President James Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor to advance to the disputed Rio Grande border between the newly-minted American state of Texas and Mexico. The Mexican government had once controlled Texas and refused to recognize the American claim on the state or the validity of the Rio Grande as an international border. Viewing Taylor’s advance as an invasion of Mexican soil, the Mexican army crossed the Rio Grande and attacked the U.S. forces in Texas in April 1846. By mid-May the two nations were formally at war. The Mexican army was larger than the American army, but its leadership, training, and supplies were all inferior to those of the U.S. forces. Mexican gunpowder was notoriously weak, and cannon balls from their guns often just bounced slowly across battlefields where the American soldiers simply stepped out of the way. As a result, by January 1847, General Taylor had conquered California and the northern Mexican territories that would later make up much of the American southwest. But Taylor was reluctant to take the war into the heart of Mexico, and Polk instead turned to General Winfield Scott to finish the job. In March, Scott landed nearly 12,000 men on the beaches near Vera Cruz, Mexico, captured the town, and began to march inland to Mexico City. Flanking the Mexican defenses at Cerro Gordo Pass, Scott stabbed southward below Mexico City, taking the towns of Contreras and Churubusco. When a final attempt at peace negotiations failed in August, Scott advanced north on the Mexican capital. After Scott’s forces stormed the fortress at Chapultepec, the last significant Mexican resistance was eliminated. The next day, September 14, Scott marched his army into Mexico City and raised the American flag over the Mexican National Palace-the “Halls of Montezuma” later celebrated in the famous Marine’s Hymn. For the first time in U.S. history, the Stars and Stripes flew over a foreign capital.
1847 – A Marine Brigade leads U.S. forces that storm Chapultepec Castle near Mexico City, inspiring one line of the Marine Hymn.
1860 – John J. Pershing (d.1948), aka “Black Jack,” was born in Laclede, Missouri. He led the campaign against Pancho Villa in Mexico and commanded the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I.
1861 – C.S.S. Patrick Henry. Commander John R. Tucker, exchanged fire with U.S.S. Savannah, Captain Hull, and U.S.S. Louisiana, Lieutenant Alexander Murray, off Newport News; shot on both sides fell short.
1862 – Union soldiers find a copy of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s orders detailing the Confederates’ plan for the Antietam campaign near Frederick, Maryland. But Union General George B. McClellan was slow to act, and the advantage the intelligence provided was lost. On the morning of September 13, the 27th Indiana rested in a meadow outside of Frederick, Maryland, which had served as the site of a Confederate camp a few days before. Sergeant John Bloss and Corporal Barton W. Mitchell found a piece of paper wrapped around three cigars. The paper was addressed to Confederate General D.H. Hill. Its title read, “Special Order No. 191, Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia.” Realizing that they had discovered a copy of the Confederate operation plan, Barton and Mitchell quickly passed it up the chain of command. By chance, the division adjutant general, Samuel Pittman, recognized the handwriting on the orders as that of a colleague from the prewar army, Robert Chilton, who was the adjutant general to Robert E. Lee. Pittman took the order to McClellan. The Union commander had spent the previous week mystified by Lee’s operations, but now the Confederate plan was clear. He reportedly gloated, “Here is a paper with which if I cannot whip Bobbie Lee, I will be willing to go home.” McClellan now knew that Lee’s forces were split into five parts and scattered over a 30-mile stretch, with the Potomac River in between. At least eight miles separated each piece of Lee’s army, and McClellan was just a dozen miles from the nearest Confederate unit at South Mountain. Bruce Catton, the noted Civil War historian, observed that no general in the war “was ever given so fair a chance to destroy the opposing army one piece at a time.” Yet McClellan squandered the opportunity. His initial jubilation was overtaken by his caution. He believed that Lee possessed a far greater number of troops than the Confederates actually had, despite the fact that the Maryland invasion resulted in a high rate of desertion among the Southerners. McClellan was also excruciatingly slow to respond to the information in the so-called Lost Order. He took 18 hours to set his army in motion, marching toward Turner’s Gap and Crampton’s Gap in South Mountain, a 50-mile long ridge that was part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lee, who was alerted to the approaching Federals, sent troops to plug the gaps, allowing him time to gather his scattered units.
1863 – The Loudoun County Rangers routed a company of Confederate cavalry at Catoctin Mountain in Virginia.
1864 – Rear Admiral Farragut’s sailors continued to clear the main ship channel at Mobile Bay of torpedos such as the one that bad sunk U.S.S. Tecumseh on 5 August. He reported to Secretary Welles that 22 torpedos had been raised. He added: ” This part of the channel is now believed to be clear, for, though beyond doubt many more were originally anchored here, report says they have sunk over one hundred to the bottom.” Despite the Admiral’s efforts, Union ships would be destroyed in the vicinity of Mobile Bay by torpedoes in the months to come.
1867 – Gen. E.R.S. Canby ordered South Carolina courts to impanel blacks as jurors.
1881 – Ambrose Everett Burnside, US Union general, died at 57.
1898 – Hannibal Goodwin patents celluloid photographic film.
1900 – Filipino resistance fighters defeat a small American column in the Battle of Pulang Lupa, during the Philippine–American War. The engagement was fought between the forces of Colonel Maximo Abad and Devereux Shields. Shields’ defeat sent shock waves through the American high command. Aside from being one of the worst defeats suffered by the Americans during the war, it was especially significant given its proximity to the upcoming election between President William McKinley and his anti-imperialist opponent William Jennings Bryan, the outcome of which many believed would determine the ultimate course of the war. Consequently, the defeat triggered a sharp response. Arthur MacArthur, Jr. sent Brig. Gen. Luther Hare with “orders to treat the entire male population over fifteen as potential enemies and to arrest as many as possible and hold them hostages until Abad surrendered.” Hare secured the release of Shields and his men. Maj. Frederick A. Smith continued the policy of destroying food and shelter in the interior of the island, and moving all civilians into the towns. Although Abad and most of his command continued to elude the American military, the civilian population was suffering for it, with many landowners and merchants joining the Federal Party, turning against Abad. These new tactics led to the surrender of Abad in April 1901.
1905 – U.S. warships headed to Nicaragua on behalf of American William Albers, who was accused of evading tobacco taxes.
1906 – Sailors and Marines from USS Denver land in Havana at the request of the Cuban government to preserve order during a revolution.
1918 – U.S. and French forces took St. Mihiel, France, in America’s first action as an expeditionary army.
1939 – Navy suspends transfers to the Fleet Reserve after 20 years service and retains men on active duty.
1939 – The US ambassador to Poland, Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr., reports that German bombers are attacking the civilian population. He says “they are releasing bombs they carry even when they are in no doubt as to the identity of their objectives.”
1942 – On Guadalcanal, the Japanese attacks intensify. The American forces hold them off with difficulty, aided by effective artillery support.
1943 – On the Salerno beachhead, elements of the German 16th Panzer and 29th Panzergrenadier Divisions capture American-held Persano and penetrate the American line in several places. The possibility of isolating the British and American Corps arises as the Germans reach to within one mile of the beaches. Allied naval gunfire prevents further German penetrations. The US 6th Corps headquarters makes plans for evacuation. Elements of the US 82nd Airborne Division (General Ridgeway) are parachuted on to the beaches to stiffen the defenses.
1943 – A American battalion lands on Sagekarasa.
1944 – In continuing attacks, the US 3rd Army (part of US 12th Army Group) captures Neufchateau.
1944 – American naval forces begin a preliminary bombardment of Peleliu and Angaur. Admiral Oldendorf is in command of the operation which involves 5 battleships, 9 cruisers and numerous destroyers. An escort carrier forces provides air support and minesweeping is carried out to clear the approach route to the islands.
1950 – Task Force 77 struck Wolmi-do with naval gunfire in preparation for the amphibious assault against Inchon. Lieutenant David H. Swenson was killed aboard the destroyer USS Swenson when the North Koreans hit the ship with a two-gun salvo. Ironically, the ship was named after his uncle, Captain Lyman K. Swenson, who was killed in the South Pacific during World War II.
1950 – The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade disbanded and became part of the 1st Marine Division.
1950 – U.S. I Corps became operational at Taegu.
1951 – The U.S. Marine Corps conducted Operation “Windmill I,” the first mass helicopter resupply mission in military history.
1956 – IBM introduced the Model 305 computer capable of storing 20 megabytes of data. Reynold B. Johnson (d.1998 at 92), IBM lab leader, developed a way to store computer data on a metal disk instead of on tape or drum. His Random Access Method of Accounting Control began the disk drive industry.
1961 – An unmanned Mercury capsule was orbited and recovered by NASA in a test for the first manned flight.
1964 – Dissident South Vietnamese army officers attempt to overthrow General Nguyen Khan’s government in Saigon, calling their movement the People’s Council for the Salvation of the Nation. General Lam Van Phat, who had been dismissed as interior minister on September 3, and General Duong Van Duc, commander of 4th Corps, led the attempt. Government troops loyal to Khanh moved against the coup’s main base near Tan Son Nhut, but the final blow to the coup came when Air Marshall Nguyen Cao Ky sent air force planes to fly over the insurgent generals’ headquarters and threatened to bomb them if they did not surrender. This incident was part of the long-running political turbulence in South Vietnam that followed the assassination of former President Ngo Dinh Diem.
1968 – The largest sustained operation inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) opens when U.S. and South Vietnamese infantry and armored troops, supported by planes, artillery, and U.S. Navy ships, move two miles into the buffer zone to relieve enemy pressure on Allied bases along the 40-mile stretch of South Vietnam’s northern frontier. The operation was also meant to prevent an anticipated offensive by two North Vietnamese divisions thought to be currently operating within the DMZ. On September 17, an additional 2,000 U.S. Marines were airlifted into the area and B-52 bombers, striking for the first time in a month, hit targets on both sides of the Ben Hai River, part of the demarcation between North and South Vietnam. Ten days later, an additional 4,000 U.S. Marines attacked into the buffer zone in a coordinated pincer movement designed to trap remaining communist forces. The operation achieved the desired objectives and resulted in 742 North Vietnamese killed; U.S. losses were 65 killed and 77 wounded.
1971 – State police and National Guardsmen storm New York’s Attica Prison to quell a prison revolt. At 9:46 a.m. tear gas was dropped into the yard and New York State Police troopers and soldiers from the New York National Guard opened fire non-stop for two minutes into the smoke. Among the weapons used by the troopers were shotguns, which led to the wounding and killing of hostages and inmates who were not resisting. Former prison officers were allowed to participate, a decision later called “inexcusable” by the commission established by Rockefeller to study the riot and the aftermath. By the time the facility was retaken, nine hostages and 29 inmates had been killed. A tenth hostage died on October 9, 1972, of gunshot wounds received during the assault. The final death toll from the riot also included the officer fatally injured at the start of the riot and four inmates who were subject to vigilante killings. Nine hostages died from gunfire by state troopers and soldiers. The New York State Special Commission on Attica wrote, “With the exception of Indian massacres in the late 19th century, the State Police assault which ended the four-day prison uprising was the bloodiest one-day encounter between Americans since the Civil War.”
1976 – The United States announced it would veto Vietnam’s UN bid.
1978 – The 1st flight of McDonnell Douglas F-18A Hornet.
1985 – Commander Middle East Force orders escort of Military Sealift Ships in Persian Gulf because of Iranian seizure of merchant vessels.
1990 – The 1st Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment embarked and arrived in Saudi Arabia in support of Desert Shield.
1993 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shakes hands with Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat at the White House after signing the Oslo Accords granting limited Palestinian autonomy.
1994 – Ulysses probe, a joint NAS ESA project, launched from teh Space Shuttle Discovery, passes the Sun’s south pole.
1995 – With the threat of terrorism growing, small and medium-sized companies started buying kidnapping and ransom insurance to protect workers heading overseas to conduct business. According to a New York Times report from 1995, companies were choosing to cover all their employees, though in most cases even foreign-bound employees stood little chance of falling prey to kidnappers and extortionists.
1997 – In Bosnia municipal elections were held under NATO escort. There was a high voter turnout.
1997 – A German military transport, a Soviet-made Tupelov-154 jet, was reported crashed with 24 people off the coast of Angola [Namibia]. A midair collision with a USAF C-141 Starlifter cargo plane was reported and the total dead reached 32. Poor communications and faulty regional traffic control were cited as the cause.
2000 – With the US government all but abandoning its case against him, former Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee pleaded guilty in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to a single count of mishandling nuclear secrets; he was then set free with an apology from U.S. District Judge James Parker, who said the government’s actions had “embarrassed our entire nation.”
2001 – Pres. Bush asked Congress for powers to wage war against an unidentified enemy. Bush called the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington “the first war of the 21st century” as his administration labeled fugitive Osama bin Laden a prime suspect. The United States promised to wage all-out retaliation against those responsible and any regime that protected them. Jetliners returned to the nation’s skies for the first time in two days, carrying nervous passengers who faced strict new security measures.
2001 – The US requested that Pakistan grant air and land space for military actions in Afghanistan. US Special Forces arrived in Afghanistan.
2001 – The data flight recorder for United Flight 93 was found at the Pennsylvania crash site. In the Sep 11 terrorist attack, 18 hijackers were identified as ticketed passengers.
2001 – Civilian aircraft traffic resumes in the United States after the September 11 attacks.
2002 – President Bush said it was “highly doubtful” that Saddam Hussein would comply with demands that he disarm and avoid a confrontation with the world community. And he mocked Democrats and other lawmakers who wanted UN action before a congressional vote on confronting Saddam.
2002 – A top Iraqi official said Baghdad opposes the return of U.N. weapons inspectors and President Bush’s speech to the United Nations was “full of lies.” Iraq will attack Israel if it takes part in a U.S. strike against President Hussein’s government, an Iraqi minister said in published remarks.
2002 – Foreign ministers of the U.N. Security Council’s permanent five nations said that Iraq’s refusal to obey past U.N. resolutions “is a serious matter and that Iraq must comply.” Russia, Europe and key Arab states piled pressure on Iraq on Friday to readmit U.N. weapons inspectors to avert possible U.S.-led military action.
2003 – Angry mourners swarmed Fallujah, Iraq, a day after eight Iraqi police were killed in a friendly fire incident involving U.S. troops; the U.S. military apologized for the deaths.
2003 – In the southern Philippines soldiers killed two suspected members of the Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group and seized pictures of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and documents in Arabic language after storming a rebel camp.
2004 – US warplanes pounded a suspected hideout of al-Qaida-linked militants in the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, killing 20 people including women and children.
2004 – Two Australians and two East Asians have been kidnapped in Iraq, said a statement purportedly from the Islamic Secret Army handed out in the Sunni Muslim insurgent bastion of Samarra.
2007 – Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was killed in a bomb attack in the city of Ramadi. He was an important U.S. ally because he led the “Anbar Awakening”, an alliance of Sunni Arab tribes that opposed al-Qaeda. The latter organization claimed responsibility for the attack. A statement posted on the Internet by the shadowy Islamic State of Iraq called Abu Risha “one of the dogs of Bush” and described Thursday’s killing as a “heroic operation that took over a month to prepare”.
2011 – A Taliban attack on the centre of the Afghan capital Kabul ends with 11 people dead. The United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that the United States would retaliate against the Pakistan-based Haqqani network of terrorists that it believes was responsible.
2012 – Protestors breach the walls of the U.S. embassy compound in Sana’a, Yemen. Yemeni police fire warning shots in the air and four people are killed. The Egyptian ministry of health says 224 people are injured in demonstrations around the embassy in Cairo. In Kuwait, 500 people gather and chant near the embassy.
2012 – The U.S. deploys destroyers and surveillance drones to Libya to hunt for those responsible for the attack in Benghazi. The Libyan Deputy Interior minister says there were two parts in the attack – the second attack was on the safe house of which the location was previously leaked.
2012 – The US consulate in the suburbs of Berlin, Germany, is briefly evacuated due to suspicions over the contents of an envelope.
2013 – Taliban insurgents attack the United States consulate in Herat, Afghanistan, with two members of the Afghan National Police reported dead and about 20 civilians injured.

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