This Day in U.S. Military History…… September 15

15 September
1762 – The Battle of Signal Hill was the last battle of the North American theatre of the Seven Years’ War. The British under Lieutenant Colonel William Amherst forced the French to surrender St. John’s, which they had seized earlier that year in a surprise attack.
1776 – British forces occupied New York City during the American Revolution.
1776 – British forces captured Kip’s Bay, Manhattan, during the American Revolution. The Landing at Kip’s Bay was a British amphibious landing during the New York Campaign in the American Revolutionary War occurring on the eastern shore of present-day Manhattan. Heavy advance fire from British naval forces in the East River caused the inexperienced militia guarding the landing area to flee, making it possible for the British to land unopposed at Kip’s Bay. Skirmishes in the aftermath of the landing resulted in the British capture of some of those militia. British maneuvers following the landing very nearly cut off the escape route of some Continental Army forces stationed further southeast on the island. The flight of American troops was so rapid that George Washington, who was attempting to rally them, was left exposed dangerously close to British lines. The operation was a British success, and resulted in the withdrawal of the Continental Army to Harlem Heights, ceding control of New York City on the lower half of the island. However, the following day, the British and American troops fought the Battle of Harlem Heights, which resulted in an American victory. The campaign of 1776 had not been a decisive victory for the British as enemy’s resistance had not been broken. All the efforts at subjugation of the rebellion had failed and their armies had not been destroyed.
1789 – The United States Department of State is established (formerly known as the “Department of Foreign Affairs”).
1857 – William Howard Taft was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He served as 26th president (R) of the United States (1909-1913) and as chief justice. He is most remembered for his “dollar diplomacy.”
1857 – Mormon leader Brigham Young called out the Nauvoo Legion to fight the U.S. Troops if they enter Utah Territory.
1862 – Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson captures Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and 12,000 Union soldiers as General Robert E. Lee’s army moves north into Maryland. The Federal garrison inside Harpers Ferry was vulnerable to a Confederate attack after Lee’s invasion of Maryland. The strategic town on the Potomac River was cut off from the rest of the Union army. General George B. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, sent messages to Union General Dixon Miles, commander of the Harpers Ferry garrison, to hold the town at all costs. McClellan promised to send help, but he had to deal with the rest of the Confederate army. Jackson rolled his artillery into place and began to shell the town on September 14. The Yankees were short on ammunition, and Miles offered little resistance before agreeing to surrender on the morning of September 15. As Miles’ aid, General Julius White, rode to Jackson to negotiate surrender terms, one Confederate cannon continued to fire. Miles was mortally wounded by the last shot fired at Harpers Ferry. The Yankees surrendered 73 artillery pieces, 13,000 rifles, and 12,500 men at Harpers Ferry. It was the largest single Union surrender of the war. The fall of Harpers Ferry convinced Lee to change his plans. After his forces had been defeated at the Battle of Crampton’s Gap and had suffered heavy losses at the Battle of South Mountain to the northeast of Harpers Ferry, Lee had intended to gather his scattered forces and return to Virginia. Now, with Harpers Ferry secure, he summoned Jackson to join the rest of his force around Sharpsburg, Maryland. Two days later, on September 17, Lee and McClellan fought the Battle of Antietam.
1862 – John T. Wilder, the Union commander at Munfordville, used unconventional methods to stall Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s advance through Kentucky. On September 15, Bragg arrived to find some 4,000 men behind well-built defenses–far more than he had anticipated. He brought up more units and surrounded the area, but instead of pressing his advantage, agreed to a suggestion made by his subordinate, Maj. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner. Buckner suggested that he be allowed to parley with the garrison and convince them of the hopelessness of their position. Bragg grudgingly acquiesced.
1904 – Wilbur Wright made his 1st controlled half-circle while in flight.
1914 – President Woodrow Wilson ordered the Punitive Expedition out of Mexico. The Expedition, headed by General John Pershing, had been searching for Pancho Villa, a Mexican revolutionary.
1923 – Gov. Walton (b.1881) of Oklahoma declared a state of siege because of KKK terror. Walton was elected governor in 1922 and impeached in 1923.
1935 – In Berlin, the Reich under Adolf Hitler adopted The Nuremberg Laws which deprived German Jews of their citizenship, made the swastika the official symbol of Nazi Germany and established gradations of “Jewishness.” “Full Jews,” people with four “non-Aryan” grandparents, were deprived of German citizenship and forbidden to marry members of the “Aryan race.” German Jews, had been barred since 1938 from government, medical, and legal professions, and shut out from every area of German public life. After the war Gen’l. Patton gave the documents to a friend and they were stored in the Huntington Museum in Cal.
1941 – The Attorney General rules that the Neutrality Act is not violated when US ships carry war material to British territories in the Near and Far East or the Western Hemisphere.
1942 – Offshore at Guadalcanal, the Japanese submarine, I-19 sinks the USS Wasp with three torpedoes, also damaging the battleship USS North Carolina. A destroyer is sunk as well.
1943 – On the Salerno beachhead there is a lull in the fighting. German forces are regrouping. They have assembled the equivalent of 4 divisions with as many as 100 tanks. The US 5th Army now has 7 Allied divisions and about 200 tanks ashore. In a morning inspection of the beachhead, Alexander decides to replace General Dawley, commanding the US 6th Corps. To the south, the British 8th Army is advancing. A group of war correspondents manages to drive from beyond the British 8th Army frontline and makes contact with US 5th Army on the Salerno beachhead. Meanwhile the island of Procida in Naples Bay is captured by Allied forces.
1944 – Elements of the US 11th Corps (Hall) land on the Gila Peninsula on the southwest of Morotai. The initial landing force includes the US 31st Division with an additional regiment (about 19,960 men). There is no Japanese resistance. Naval support is provided by a force commanded by Admiral Barbey which includes 6 escort carriers and cruisers and destroyers. The US 5th Air Force provides additional air cover. General MacArthur is present for the landing. Priority is given to the construction of airfields.
1944 – Elements of the US 1st Marine Division (Rupertus), part of 3rd Amphibious Corps (Geiger), land on the southwest coast of Peleliu. The naval force commanded by Admiral Oldendorf remains in support. The Japanese garrison is consists of a regiment of 14th Division under the command of Colonel Nakagawa. There is limited resistance on the beaches. American attempts to advance inland, however, meet strong resistance. By the end of the day, the beachhead is only a few hundred yards wide.
1944 – The US 1st Army (part of US 12th Army Group) captures Maastricht and Eisden while US 3rd Army takes Nancy and Epinal. Meanwhile, the US 7th Army (Patch) and French 1st Army (de Lattre), moving north from southern France, are placed under the authority of Eisenhower and SHAEF.
1944 – Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill meet in Quebec as part of the Octagon Conference to discuss strategy. Agreements were reached on the following topics: Allied occupation zones in defeated Germany, the Morgenthau Plan to demilitarize Germany, continued U.S. Lend Lease aid to Britain, and the role of the Royal Navy in the war against Japan.
1945 – A hurricane in southern Florida and the Bahamas destroys 366 planes and 25 blimps at Richmond Naval Air Station in Florida.
1945 – The US Department of War issues figures showing that a total of 7,306,000 soldiers (including a small number of Allied forces and civilians) and 126,859,000 tons of war cargo have been moved from American ports to all fronts between December 1941 and August 31, 1945.
1948 – The F-86 Sabre sets the world aircraft speed record at 671 miles per hour (1,080 km/h).
1950 – This was D-Day for the Inchon landing by Joint Task Force 7. This 230-ship task force, commanded by Vice Admiral Arthur D. Struble, was the largest naval armada since World War II. Major General Oliver P. Smith commanded the 1st Marine Division that made the initial amphibious assault at Inchon as part of X Corps, commanded by Major General Edward M. Almond with the Army’s 7th Infantry Division in reserve. The 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marine Regiment seized Wolmi Island in Inchon Harbor in the early morning as a prelude to the main landing in the late afternoon. Meanwhile, the battleship USS Missouri bombarded the East Coast of Korea as a diversion to the landing.
1950 – The 3d Battalion, 5th Marines landed on Wolmi-do Island in Inchon Harbor and secured it prior to the main landing. The 1st Marine Division under the command of Major General Oliver P. Smith landed at Inchon and began the Inchon-Seoul campaign.
1950 – U.S. X Corps became operational with the1st Marine Division and the 7th Infantry Division attached.
1961 – The US resumed underground nuclear testing.
1962 – The Soviet ship Poltava arrives in Cuba with a cargo of R-12 medium range ballistic missiles, one of the events that sets into motion the Cuban Missile Crisis. This is the second shipment.
1964 – The National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, or as it was more popularly known, the National Liberation Front (NLF), calls for a general military offensive to take advantage of the ‘disarray’ among the South Vietnamese, particularly after the abortive coup attempt against General Khanh’s government in Saigon on September 13 and 14. The NLF was the formal political organization behind the Viet Cong and sought to unite all aspects of the South Vietnamese people who were disaffected with the Saigon government. From the beginning, the NLF was completely dominated by the communist Lao Dong Party Central Committee in Hanoi and served as North Vietnam’s shadow government in the South.
1967 – Operation Crimson Tide in Mekong Delta.
1972 – ARVN forces recapture Quang Tri City after four days of heavy fighting, with the claim that over 8,135 NVA had been killed in the battle. The North Vietnamese forces had launched a massive offensive, called the Nguyen Hue or “Easter Offensive,” on March 31, with three main attacks aimed at Quang Tri south of the Demilitarized Zone, Kontum in the Central Highlands, and An Loc just 60 miles north of Saigon. This invasion included 14 divisions and 26 separate regiments, a total force numbering over 120,000 troops, and was designed to knock South Vietnam out of the war and inflict a defeat on the remaining U.S. forces (which numbered less than 70,000 by this date due to President Nixon’s Vietnamization policy and the American troop withdrawal schedule). The North Vietnamese attack was characterized by conventional combined arms attacks by tank and infantry forces supported by massive artillery barrages, resulting in some of the heaviest fighting of the war. The South Vietnamese forces and their American advisors supported by U.S. tactical airpower and B-52 bombers were able to hold at An Loc and Kontum despite being vastly outnumbered, but the South Vietnamese forces at Quang Tri faltered under the communist assault and were quickly overwhelmed. It was only after President Thieu fired the I Corps commander and replaced him with Major General Ngo Quang Truong, arguably one of the best officers in the South Vietnamese army, that the ARVN were able to stop the North Vietnamese. Truong took measures to stabilize the situation and the South Vietnamese began to fight back. After a tremendously bloody four-and-a-half-month battle in which 977 South Vietnamese soldiers perished, Truong and his troops retook Quang Tri from the North Vietnamese, winning a major victory. President Nixon used this as proof positive that his Vietnamization policy had worked and that the South Vietnamese were prepared to take over responsibility for the war.
1990 – France announced it would send 4,000 more soldiers to the Persian Gulf and expel Iraqi military attaches in Paris in response to Iraq’s raids on French, Belgian and Canadian diplomatic compounds in Kuwait.
1994 – In a terse ultimatum from the Oval Office, President Clinton told Haiti’s military leaders in a prime-time address: “Your time is up. Leave now or we will force you from power.”
1996 – Defense Secretary William Perry was making the rounds among American allies in the Persian Gulf region, seeking additional support for the U.S. stance against Iraq. Bahrain agreed to play host to 26 American F-16 jet fighters.
1997 – In Oman a US Navy F/A-18 crashed and the pilot was killed.
1997 – A Marine F/Aa-18 Hornet fighter jet crashed in North Carolina’s Pamlico sound and its 2 pilots were killed.
1997 – In Oman a US Navy F/A-18 crashed and the pilot was killed.
2001 – As many as 300,000 Afghans reportedly had fled Kandahar in fear of US air strikes against their Taliban rulers who were harboring Osama bin Laden.
2002 – 82d Airborne Division launched another big operation, Champion Strike. Approximately one thousand troops, including Schweitzer’s 3d Battalion; elements of the newly arrived 1st Battalion, 504th Infantry, led by Lt. Col. David T. Gerard; Special Forces teams; and Afghan militia, conducted air assaults into the Bermail valley of Paktika Province. They captured an al-Qaeda or Taliban financier along with other suspects and also uncovered weapons caches and Taliban documents. Female military police soldiers discovered that some Afghan females were concealing weapons and ammunition under their full-length garments (called burkas), probably because enemy fighters thought they would not be searched. Changes in U.S. troop behavior in these searches did not produce the same disruptions as in previous operations.
2002 – U.S. and British warplanes bombed Iraqi installations in the southern no-fly zone. Major air defense sites were being targeted.
2002 – Saudi Arabia indicates that American forces would be free to attack Iraq from bases on its soil if Baghdad rejects a fresh United Nations resolution on weapons inspectors.
2004 – Three Americans accused of torturing Afghans in a private jail were found guilty in a Kabul court after a trial denounced by the defense as failing to meet basic international standards of fairness.
2007 – A NATO-led Coalition Force in Afghanistan intercepted a shipment of Iranian arms intended for the Taliban.
2010 – Operation Dragon Strike, to reclaim the strategic southern province of Kandahar, which was the birthplace of the Taliban movement. The area where the operation took place has been dubbed “The Heart of Darkness” by Coalition troops.The main force leading the operation were units from the 101st Airborne Division. Some of the heaviest of the fighting during the operation had been in the Zhari District, which is on the main highway to Kandahar and a major insurgent supply route into the city, the Arghandab District and the Panjwaye District. By the end of December 2010, the operation’s main objectives had been accomplished. The majority of Taliban forces in Kandahar had withdrawn from the province, and much of their leadership was said to have been fractured.

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