This Day in U.S. Military History…… September 14

14 September
1763 – Seneca warriors defeat British forces at the Battle of Devil’s Hole during Pontiac’s War. Also known as the Devil’s Hole Massacre, was fought near Niagara Gorge in present-day New York state between a detachment of the British 80th Regiment of Light Armed Foot and about 300 Seneca warriors. The Seneca warriors killed 81 British soldiers and wounded 8 before they managed to retreat.
1716 – The 1st lighthouse in US was lit in Boston Harbor.
1814 – Francis Scott Key composes the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” after witnessing the massive British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Maryland during the War of 1812. Key, an American lawyer, watched the siege while under detainment on a British ship and penned the famous words after observing that the U.S. flag over Fort McHenry had survived the 1,800-bomb assault. After circulating as a handbill, the patriotic lyrics were published in a Baltimore newspaper on September 20. Set to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” an English drinking song written by the British composer John Stafford Smith, it soon became popular throughout the nation. Throughout the 19th century, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was regarded as the national anthem by the U.S. armed forces and other groups, but it was not until 1916, and the signing of an executive order by President Woodrow Wilson, that it was formally designated as such. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a Congressional act confirming Wilson’s presidential order.
1847 – During the Mexican-American War, U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott enter Mexico City and raise the American flag over the Hall of Montezuma, concluding a devastating advance that began with an amphibious landing at Vera Cruz six months earlier. The Mexican-American War began with a dispute over the U.S. government’s 1845 annexation of Texas. In January 1846, President James K. Polk, a strong advocate of westward expansion, ordered General Zachary Taylor to occupy disputed territory between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers. Mexican troops attacked Taylor’s forces, and on May 13, 1846, Congress approved a declaration of war against Mexico. On March 9, 1847, U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott invaded Mexico three miles south of Vera Cruz. They encountered little resistance from the Mexicans massed in the fortified city of Vera Cruz, and by nightfall the last of Scott’s 10,000 men came ashore without the loss of a single life. It was the largest amphibious landing in U.S. history and not surpassed until World War II. By March 29, with very few casualties, Scott’s forces had taken Vera Cruz and its massive fortress, San Juan de Ulua. On September 14, Scott’s forces reached the Mexican capital. In February 1848, representatives from the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, formally ending the Mexican War, recognizing Texas as part of the United States, and extending the boundaries of the United States west to the Pacific Ocean.
1856 – At the Battle of San Jacinto, Nicaragua defeated invaders. General José Dolores Estrada led his men against the powerful forces of William Walker and his filibusters, who sought to take over Nicaragua and all of Central America.
1861 – In the early morning darkness sailors and Marines from U.S.S. Colorado, rowing in to Pensacola Harbor, boarded and burned Confederate privateering schooner Judah. and spiked guns at Pensacola Navy Yard.
1862 – General Robert E. Lee’s exhausted Confederate forces hold off the pursuing Yankees by closing two passes through Maryland’s South Mountain, allowing Lee time to gather his forces further west along Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg. After the Battle of Second Bull Run on August 29-30, Lee decided to invade Maryland to raise supplies; he also hoped a decisive win would earn the South foreign recognition. As he moved, he split his army into five sections while the hungry Rebels searched for supplies. A copy of the Confederate plans accidentally fell into Union hands when the orders were left in an abandoned campsite outside of Frederick, Maryland. McClellan now knew that Lee’s force was in pieces, but he was slow to react. As Lee moved into western Maryland, he left detachments to guard Crampton’s Gap and Turner’s Gap through South Mountain. If McClellan had penetrated the passes, he would have found Lee’s army scattered and vulnerable. South Mountain, a 50-mile long ridge, contained several passes, but Crampton’s Gap and Turner’s Gap were the most important. The National Road ran through Turner’s Gap to the north, and Crampton’s Gap connected western Maryland to Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The Union troops drove the Confederates away at Crampton’s Gap, but were initially unable to expel the Confederates from Turner’s Gap. However, the Rebels did retreat the next morning. Union losses for the day amounted to 2,300 dead and wounded, including the death of Major General Jesse Reno. The Confederates lost 2,700. These engagements were a mere prelude to the Battle of Antietam. Although costly, they allowed Lee time to assemble his scattered bands at Sharpsburg.
1862 – A contingent of Federal troops escaped from the beleaguered Harper’s Ferry.
1872 – Britain paid US $15 million for damages during Civil War. The British government paid £3 million in damages to the United States in compensation for building the Confederate commerce-raider Alabama. The confederate navy‘s Alabama was built at the Birkenhead shipyards. Despite its official neutrality during the American Civil War, Britain allowed the warship to leave port, and it subsequently played havoc with Federal shipping. The U.S. claimed compensation, and a Court of Arbitration at Geneva agreed, setting the amount at £3 million.
1899 – Gunboat Concord and monitor Monterey capture two insurgent schooners at Aparri, Philippine Islands.
1901 – Twenty-fifth President of the United States William McKinley, Jr., dies today of an assassin’s bullet shot into him on September 6th. Born in Ohio, he enlisted as a private at the age of 18 in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry at the outbreak of the Civil War (also serving as a major in this same regiment was future 19th President Rutherford B. Hayes). McKinley proved an able leader and quickly moved up through the ranks so that by war’s end he was a major. After leaving the Army he entered politics, being repeatedly elected to the House of Representatives until elected President in 1897. The most important aspect of his time as president was taking the United States to war against Spain over the issue of Cuban independence. The outcome of that war made America a world power with colonies in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines. During this period nearly 200,000 Guardsmen served in the American Army seeing combat in all theaters of the war. McKinley’s Vice President, who is sworn in as the 26th President on this date, is former New York Guard Captain and Colonel of the 1st Volunteer Cavalry, “the Rough Riders”, Theodore Roosevelt.
1912 – The United States government notified Nicaragua that it would protect American lives and property there and uphold the government against rebels.
1939 – In the 1930s Igor Sikorsky (d.1972) turned his attention again to helicopter design and on this day flew the VS-300 on its first test flight. Sikorsky, scientist, engineer, pilot and businessman, was a pioneer in aircraft design who is best known for his successful development of the helicopter. He was fascinated with flight even as a child in Russia, and a 1908 meeting with the Wright brothers determined the course of his life in aviation. After two early helicopter designs failed, Sikorsky turned his attention to fixed-wing aircraft. By 1913 he had developed the Il’ya Muromets, four-engine passenger aircraft that were converted to bombers for use in WWI. The Bolshevik Revolution forced Sikorsky and his family to emigrate to America in 1919 where he established the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation in New York. Over the next 20 years, Sikorsky’s company built passenger planes and flying boats, including the S-40 American Clipper that was used to open new air routes across the Pacific.
1940 – Congress passed the Selective Service Act, providing for the first peacetime draft in U.S. history. It passed by one vote.
1942 – The 3-day Battle of Edson’s Ridge at Guadalcanal continued.
1942 – The Japanese-held island of Kiska is bombed by American forces.
1943 – On Vella Lavella, American and New Zealand forces are advancing. Reinforcements are sent to the US battalion on Sagekarasa because of Japanese attacks.
1944 – Three groups of US Task Force 38, with 12 carriers, conduct air strikes on Japanese positions on the Visayas or central Philippine islands.
1944 – U.S. 1st Marine Division lands on the island of Peleliu, one of the Palau Islands in the Pacific, as part of a larger operation to provide support for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was preparing to invade the Philippines. The cost in American lives would prove historic. The Palaus, part of the Caroline Islands, were among the mandated islands taken from Germany and given to Japan as one of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles at the close of World War I. The U.S. military lacked familiarity with the islands, and Adm. William Halsey argued against Operation Stalemate, which included the Army invasion of Morotai in the Dutch East Indies, believing that MacArthur would meet minimal resistance in the Philippines, therefore making this operation unnecessary, especially given the risks involved. Peleliu was subject to pre-invasion bombardment, but it proved of little consequence. The Japanese defenders of the island were buried too deep in the jungle, and the target intelligence given the Americans was faulty. Upon landing, the Marines met little immediate resistance-but that was a ploy. Shortly thereafter, Japanese machine guns opened fire, knocking out more than two dozen landing craft. Japanese tanks and troops followed, as the startled 1st and 5th Marine regiments fought for their lives. Jungle caves disgorged even more Japanese soldiers. Within one week of the invasion, the Marines lost 4,000 men. By the time it was all over, that number would surpass 9,000. The Japanese lost more than 13,000 men. Flamethrowers and bombs finally subdued the island for the Americans-but it all proved pointless. MacArthur invaded the Philippines without need of Army or Marine protection from either Peleliu or Morotai.
1944 – CGC Bedloe (ex-Antietam) and Jackson foundered off Cape Hatteras during a hurricane. 26 crewmen were lost from the Bedloe, 21 from the Jackson.
1950 – Sixty-two year old singer Al Jolson arrived in Korea to entertain the troops after paying his own way from the United States.
1958 – The 720th Missile Battalion, California National Guard, becomes operational on a 24-hour, seven day a week basis. Manning four batteries of NIKE-AJAX missiles, this is the first Army Guard unit armed with these surface-to-air missiles used to replace anti-aircraft guns in defensive positions. By 1962 a force of 17,000 Guardsmen (combined technicians and traditional) maintained 82 batteries stationed in 15 states. All were located around harbors and large cities important to national strategic interests. In the early 1960s the AJAX missiles were replaced by the longer-ranged and nuclear capable NIKE-HERCULES missile. The program, running from 1958 until it was discontinued in 1974, was one of the Guard’s most successful homeland defense missions performed in the 20th century.
1959 – The Soviet space probe Luna 2 became the first man-made object to reach the moon as it crashed onto the lunar surface.
1960 – The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was founded on this day at the Baghdad Conference of 1960, established by five core members: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Originally made up of just these five, OPEC began as an attempt to organize and unify petroleum policies, securing stable prices for the petroleum producers. The organization grew considerably after its creation, adding eight other members and developing into one of the most influential groups in the world. The first real indication of OPEC’s power came with the 1973 oil embargo, during which long lines and soaring gasoline prices quickly convinced Americans of the reach of OPEC’s influence. OPEC’s member countries currently supply more than 40 percent of the world’s oil.
1960 – With CIA help, Mobutu Sese Seko seizes power in a military coup, suspending parliament and the constitution. The Congo Crisis (French: Crise congolaise) was a period of political upheaval and conflict in the Republic of the Congo (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) between 1960 and 1965. It began almost immediately after the Congo’s independence from Belgium and ended, unofficially, with the entire country under the rule of Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Constituting a series of civil wars, the Congo Crisis was also a proxy conflict in the Cold War in which the Soviet Union and United States supported opposing factions. Around 100,000 people are believed to have been killed during the crisis.
1965 – ARVN paratroopers and several U.S. advisers parachute into the Ben Cat area, 20 miles north of Saigon. This was the first major parachute assault of the war by the South Vietnamese. Although they failed to make contact with the enemy, they achieved their goal of driving the Viet Cong away from Route 13 (running between Saigon and the Cambodian border) at least temporarily.
1966 – U.S. II Field Force initiates Operation Attleboro with an attack by the 196th Light Infantry Brigade against Viet Cong forces near the Cambodian Border in War Zone C (near Tay Ninh, 50 miles northwest of Saigon in III Corps Tactical Zone). When the communists appeared to want to make a fight of it, the U.S. commander, Lt. Gen. Jonathan Seaman, sent in reinforcements from the U.S. 1st Infantry Division; the 173rd Airborne Brigade; a brigade each from the U.S. 4th and 25th Infantry Divisions; and a contingent from a South Vietnamese division. Before the operation was over, more than 20,000 U.S. and South Vietnamese troops were involved, making it the largest operation at that point in the war. After more than six weeks of hit-and-run fighting, the Viet Cong forces sustained 1,106 casualties and fell back to sanctuary areas in Cambodia. Operations like Attleboro, and others to follow such as Cedar Rapids and Junction City, were examples of the search and destroy tactic dictated by Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), the senior American headquarters in Saigon. The objective was to find the Viet Cong and engage them in decisive battle; the problem was that the communists often refused to engage in the type of set-piece battles for control of critical terrain that had been the norm in previous wars, like World War II. Westmoreland’s search and destroy tactic led to a war of attrition in which battles were fought often over the same territory again and again and where each side inflicted as many casualties as possible on the other. This approach was criticized because it meant that the war would go on as long as the communists were prepared to accept and replace their losses on the battlefield.
1969 – The US Selective Service selects September 14 as the First Draft Lottery Date.
1989 – Sikorsky Aircraft unveiled the replacement for the Sikorsky HH-3F Pelican helicopter: the HH-60J. The Coast Guard planned to purchase 33 of the new helicopters and gave it the moniker “Jayhawk.”
1990 – During the Persian Gulf crisis, the US Navy reported that American troops had fired a warning shot at an Iraqi tanker, then boarded it briefly before allowing it to proceed.
1990 – The Secretary of Transportation and the Commandant of the Coast Guard authorized the first-ever deployment of a reserve port security unit overseas. PSU 303, staffed by reservists from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was the first of three PSUs deployed. PSU 303 was stationed in Al-Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
1992 – The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina declares the breakaway Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia to be illegal.
1995 – Bosnian Serbs agreed to move heavy weapons and tanks away from Serajevo. NATO halted bombing in response.
1997 – An Air Force F-117A Stealth fighter broke apart in midair at a Baltimore County air show. The pilot ejected safely but about a dozen people on the ground were slightly injured.
1998 – In Miami ten people were charged in what prosecutors said was the largest Cuban spy ring uncovered in the United States since Fidel Castro came to power. Five men later pleaded guilty to lesser charges; the trial of the other five has been postponed until May 2000.
1998 – Iraq’s Parliament threatens to cut off all contacts with U.N. arms inspectors if the Security Council does not resume its review of sanctions.
2001 – The State Department, in a memo demanded that the Taliban surrender all known al-Qaeda associates in Afghanistan, provide intelligence on bin Laden and his affiliates and expel all terrorists from Afghanistan.
2001 – Congress passed legislation titled Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, which was signed on 18 September 2001 by President Bush. It authorized the use of U.S. Armed Forces against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
2001 – Pres. Bush declared a national emergency and summoned as many as 50,000 military reservists. Congress authorizes President George W. Bush to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” The number of hijackers involved in the Sep 11 attacks was raised from 18 to 19 and their names were made public.
2001 – Six chartered flights carrying mostly Saudi nationals departed from the US over the course of the next week.
2002 – President Bush said the United States was willing to take Iraq on alone if the United Nations failed to “show some backbone” by confronting Saddam Hussein.
2002 – In Lackawanna, New York, 5 men of Yemeni descent were charged with supporting foreign terrorist organizations. They trained in an al Qaeda camp run by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network in the spring of 2001. A 6th member of the cell was arrested in Bahrain. All 6 were indicted Oct 21. In 2003 Mukhtar al-Bakri was sentenced to 10 years, Yasein Taher to 9 years. All terms ranged from 7-10 years.
2004 – A car bomb ripped through a busy market near a Baghdad police headquarters where Iraqis were waiting to apply for jobs on the force killing 47 and wounding 114. Gunmen opened fire on a van carrying police home from work in Baqouba, killing 12 people.
2004 – Saboteurs blew up a junction where multiple oil pipelines cross the Tigris River in northern Iraq, setting off a chain reaction in power generation systems that left the entire country without power.
2007 – President Bush backed a limited withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Bush said 5,700 personnel would be home by Christmas 2007, and expected thousands more to return by July 2008. The plan would take troop numbers back to their level before the surge at the beginning of 2007.
2007 – Michael Sulick is named the new Director of the United States’ National Clandestine Service.
2009 – U.S. special forces launch an attack on Islamist militants from Al-Shabab in Somalia. The Baraawe raid, code named Operation Celestial Balance, was a helicopter assault by United States Special Operations Forces against the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and associated al-Shabaab militants near the town of Baraawe in southern Somalia.
2012 – Fifty U.S. Marines are deployed to the American embassy in Yemen as a “precautionary measure” after clashes in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.
2012 – The bodies of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Officer Sean Smith, and former SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, killed in the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, are returned to the United States, for their eventual funerals, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland in a solemn military ceremony attended by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
2014 – North Korea holds a trial for American tourist Matthew Miller who was detained in April and sentences him to six years of hard labor

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