This Day in U.S. Military History…… September 21

21 September
1673 – James Needham returned to Virginia after exploring the land to the west, which would become Tennessee.
1776 – Nathan Hale was arrested in NYC by the British for spying for American rebels.
1776 – NYC burned down in the Great Fire five days after British took over. The fore was devastating, it burned through the night on the west side of what then constituted New York City at the southern end of the island of Manhattan. It broke out in the early days of the military occupation of the city by British forces during the American War for Independence. The fire destroyed 10 to 25 percent of the city and some unburned parts of the city were plundered. Many people believed or assumed that one or more people deliberately started the fire, for a variety of different reasons. British leaders accused revolutionaries acting within the city, and many residents assumed that one side or the other had started it. The fire had long-term effects on the British occupation of the city, which did not end until 1783.
1780 – General Benedict Arnold, American commander of West Point, met with British spy Major John André to hand over plans of the important Hudson River fort to the enemy. Unhappy with how General George Washington treated him and in need of money, Arnold planned to “sell” West Point for 20,000 pounds–a move that would enable the British to cut New England off from the rest of the rebellious colonies. Arnold’s treason was exposed when André was captured by American militiamen who found the incriminating plans in his stocking. Arnold received a timely warning and was able to escape to a British ship, but André was hanged as a spy on October 2, 1780. Condemned for his Revolutionary War actions by both Americans and British, Arnold lived until 1801.
1817 – Carter Littlepage Stevenson, Major General (Confederate Army), was born.
1820 – Union General John Fulton Reynolds is born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. One of nine children, Reynolds received his education at private academies before Senator James Buchanan, a family friend, secured him an appointment at West Point in 1837. He graduated in 1841, 26 out of 52 in his class. Prior to the Mexican War, Reynolds served in Maryland, South Carolina, and Florida. He was part of General Zachary Taylor’s army in Mexico, and he distinguished himself at the Battles of Monterey and Buena Vista. His heroism earned him promotions to captain and major. In the 1850s, Reynolds served in Maine, fought Native Americans in the West, and participated in the Mormon War of the late 1850s. In 1860, he returned to West Point as commandant of cadets. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Reynolds received command of a regular army regiment. His orders were soon changed, however, and he became a brigade commander with orders to serve at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Before he shipped for service along the coast, General George B. McClellan—then commander of the Army of the Potomac—used his leverage to secure Reynolds’s service in McClellan’s army. In 1862, Reynolds participated in the Seven Days’ Battles around Richmond. This was the climax of McClellan’s Peninsular campaign, in which Confederate General Robert E. Lee attacked the Yankees and drove them away from the Rebel capital. At the Battle of Gaines’ Mills on June 26, Reynolds’s brigade—protecting a Union retreat—bore the brunt of a Confederate attack. The next day, Reynolds held his position, but he was detached from the main Union army. The Confederates overran Reynolds and part of his command, and the general was sent to Richmond’s Libby Prison. Reynolds spent less than six weeks at Libby before he was exchanged in August 1862. He was given command of a division, and fought at the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 29 and 30, just three weeks after his release. In November, Reynolds returned to the Army of the Potomac as a commander of I Corps. His force fought at Fredericksburg in December, but was held in reserve at Chancellorsville in May 1863. Reynolds commanded the left wing of the Army of the Potomac during the Gettysburg campaign. On the morning of July 1, he rode into Gettysburg and placed his force in front of advancing Confederates, forcing Union General George Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac, to fight. Reynolds was killed by a Confederate volley and was buried in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on July 4.
1858 – Navy Sloop Niagara departs Charleston, SC, for Liberia with African slaves rescued from slave ship.
1862 – William Benjamin Gould and 7 other black men stole a boat and rowed past Fort Caswell, NC. They were picked up the next day by the Union warship Cambridge.
1863 – Union troops under Major Gen’l. William S. Rosencrans defeated at Chickamauga sought refuge in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was then besieged by Confederate troops. There they lost 10,000 horses and mules to starvation.
1872 – John Henry Conyers of SC became the 1st black student at Annapolis.
1904 – Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph dies on the Colville reservation in northern Washington at the age of 64. The whites had described him as superhuman, a military genius, an Indian Napoleon. But in truth, the Nez Perce Chief Him-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt (“Thunder Rolling Down from the Mountains”) was more of a diplomat than a warrior. Chief Joseph-as non-Indians knew him-had been elected chief of the Wallowa band of Nez Perce Indians when he was only 31. For six difficult years the young leader struggled peacefully against the whites who coveted the Wallowa’s fertile land in northeastern Oregon. In 1877, General Howard of the U.S. Army warned that if the Wallowa and other bands of the Nez Perce did not abandon their land and move to the Lapwai Reservation within 30 days, his troops would attack. While some of the other Nez Perce chiefs argued they should resist, Chief Joseph convinced them to comply with the order rather than face war, and he led his people on a perilous voyage across the flood-filled Snake and Salmon River canyons to a campsite near the Lapwai Reservation. But acting without Chief Joseph’s knowledge, a band of 20 young hotheaded braves decided to take revenge on some of the more offensive white settlers in the region, sparking the Nez Perce War of 1877. Chief Joseph was no warrior, and he opposed many of the subsequent actions of the Nez Perce war councils. Joseph’s younger brother, Olikut, was far more active in leading the Nez Perce into battle, and Olikut helped them successfully outsmart the U.S. Army on several occasions as the war ranged over more than 1,600 miles of Washington, Idaho, and Montana territory. Nonetheless, military leaders and American newspapers persisted in believing that since Chief Joseph was the most prominent Nez Perce spokesman and diplomat, he must also be their principal military leader. By chance, Chief Joseph was the only major leader to survive the war, and it fell to him to surrender the surviving Nez Perce forces to Colonel Nelson A. Miles at the Bear Paw battlefield in northern Montana in October 1877. “From where the sun now stands,” he promised, “I will fight no more forever.” Chief Joseph lived out the rest of his life in peace, a popular romantic symbol of the noble “red men” who many Americans admired now that they no longer posed any real threat.
1922 – Congress authorized officers of the Customs and of the Coast Guard to board and examine vessels, reaffirming authority to seize and secure vessels for security of revenue under act of March 2, 1799.
1931 – In the depths of the Depression, Americans had lost their faith in the nation’s banking system. Despite President Hoover’s various attempts to rekindle confidence, including temporary halts on debts and reparations, the nation remained wary. On September 21, 1931, that feeling of insecurity grew more pronounced with the announcement that Great Britain had decided to abandon the gold standard. Most people assumed that the United States would follow suit and pull out of the precious metal. Since gold was the standard bank reserve, the public also assumed that any money they had in the banks would be at risk. A mini-panic ensued, as people rushed to withdraw their savings and stockpile any available gold. By the end of October 1931, 827 banks had been forced to shut down. The public’s suspicions, meanwhile, proved to be a bit premature, as the government did not give up the gold standard until 1933.
1936 – The German army held its largest maneuvers since 1914.
1936 – The Spanish fascist junta named Franco generalissimo, supreme commander.
1939 – President Roosevelt addresses a special joint session of Congress and urges the repeal of the Neutrality Act provisions embargoing arms sales to belligerent countries. “Our acts must be guided by one single hard-headed thought — keeping America out of this war,” the president said. Allowing arms to be sold on a cash-and-carry basis would be “better calculated than any other means to keep us out of war.”
1941 – With America on the verge of entering World War II, the government needed a source of extra revenue to fund the war effort. To that end, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1941, increasing the burden on America’s taxpayers to help pay for the upcoming conflict.
1942 – The U.S. B-29 Superfortress makes its debut flight in Seattle, Washington. It was the largest bomber used in the war by any nation. The B-29 was conceived in 1939 by Gen. Hap Arnold, who was afraid a German victory in Europe would mean the United States would be devoid of bases on the eastern side of the Atlantic from which to counterattack. A plane was needed that would travel faster, farther, and higher than any then available, so Boeing set to creating the four-engine heavy bomber. The plane was extraordinary, able to carry loads almost equal to its own weight at altitudes of 30,000 to 40,000 feet. It contained a pilot console in the rear of the plane, in the event the front pilot was knocked out of commission. It also sported the first radar bombing system of any U.S. bomber. The Superfortress made its test run over the continental United States on September 21, but would not make its bombing-run debut until June 5, 1944, against Bangkok, in preparation for the Allied liberation of Burma from Japanese hands. A little more than a week later, the B-29 made its first run against the Japanese mainland. On June 14, 60 B-29s based in Chengtu, China, bombed an iron and steel works factory on Honshu Island. While the raid was less than successful, it proved to be a morale booster to Americans, who were now on the offensive. Meanwhile, the Marianas Islands in the South Pacific were being recaptured by the United States, primarily to provide air bases for their new B-29s-a perfect position from which to strike the Japanese mainland on a consistent basis. Once the bases were ready, the B-29s were employed in a long series of bombing raids against Tokyo. Although capable of precision bombing at high altitudes, the Superfortresses began dropping incendiary devices from a mere 5,000 feet, firebombing the Japanese capital in an attempt to break the will of the Axis power. One raid, in March 1945, killed more than 80,000 people. But the most famous, or perhaps infamous, use of the B-29 would come in August, as it was the only plane capable of delivering a 10,000-pound bomb–the atomic bomb. The Enola Gay and the Bock’s Car took off from the Marianas, on August 6 and 9, respectively, and flew into history.
1943 – The US 5th Army reorients to the left as the British 8th Army moves to east side of the front. German forces are withdrawing all along the front with the exception of the passes leading to Naples.
1943 – American forces on Arundel discover that the Japanese forces have been evacuated.
1944 – US Task Force 38 conducts air strikes on Japanese targets on Luzon, particularly Manila and Manila Bay. Twelve American carriers are involved.
1944 – U.S. troops of the 7th Army, invading Southern France, crossed the Meuse River.
1945 – President Truman holds a cabinet meeting to discuss the question of sharing atomic secrets with the British and particularly the Soviet governments. He chose the topic because it was Secretary of War Stimson’s last day in government service; Stimson was retiring that afternoon. In the words of Undersecretary of State Acheson, “the discussion was unworthy of the subject.” Stimson desired only a diplomatic approach, not an openhanded passing of information American scientists sought. The presumption was that the Soviets would offer a quid pro quo for the cost of the nuclear project. Instead, some cabinet members misconstrued the debate to be whether to give away the secrets. They were totally unprepared to handle this complicated subject and hardly knew the difference between an at secret and common scientific knowledge. They responded by offering their opinions in airy detail. After the discussion, and reception of papers prepared thereafter (with the exception of Stimson’s, which was prepared well in advance), the president released an ambiguous public statement.
1945 – Four days of chaos in Vietnam, Saigon in particular, begins as British General Douglas Gracey declares martial law. The Vietminh, under Ho Chi Minh, are trying to enforce their control, but they are opposed by various nationalist Vietnamese groups, French colonials trying to regain power, and representatives of the French government determined to reassert sovereignty, while thousands of Nationalist Chinese troops are moving into northern Vietnam. Gracey allows Japanese troops to aid his British, Indian, and Ghurka troops, as well as arming 1,400 French troops who had been interred by the Japanese, most of them French Legionnaires, a combination that can have no effect but to ignite the passions of nationalist Vietnamese.
1949 – At the opening of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Peking, Mao Zedong announces that the new Chinese government will be “under the leadership of the Communist Party of China.” The September 1949 conference in Peking was both a celebration of the communist victory in the long civil war against Nationalist Chinese forces and the unveiling of the communist regime that would henceforth rule over China. Mao and his communist supporters had been fighting against what they claimed was a corrupt and decadent Nationalist government in China since the 1920s. Despite massive U.S. support for the Nationalist regime, Mao’s forces were victorious in 1949 and drove the Nationalist government onto the island of Taiwan. In September, with cannons firing salutes and ceremonial flags waving, Mao announced the victory of communism in China and vowed to establish the constitutional and governmental framework to protect the “people’s revolution.” In outlining the various committees and agencies to be established under the new regime, Mao announced that “Our state system of the People’s Democratic Dictatorship is a powerful weapon for safeguarding the fruits of victory of the people’s revolution and for opposing plots of foreign and domestic enemies to stage a comeback. We must firmly grasp this weapon.” He denounced those who opposed the communist government as “imperialistic and domestic reactionaries.” In the future, China would seek the friendship of “the Soviet Union and the new democratic countries.” Mao also claimed that communism would help end reputation as a lesser-developed country. “The era in which the Chinese were regarded as uncivilized is now over. We will emerge in the world as a highly civilized nation.” On October 1, 1949, the People’s Republic of China was formally announced, with Mao Zedong as its leader. He would remain in charge of the nation until his death in 1976.
1949 – In Germany the Allied Occupation Statute came into force. The functions of the military government were transferred to the Allied high commission. The Federal Republic of [West] Germany was created under the 3-power occupation.
1950 – X Corps, under Lieutenant General Edward M. Almond, assumed command of all U.N. forces ashore in the Inchon/Seoul area from Vice Admiral J. D. Struble’s Joint Task Force Seven.
1951 – Operation SUMMIT, the first helicopter landing of a combat unit in history, took place. It included the airlifting of a reinforced company of Marines and 17,772 pounds of cargo into the Punchbowl area.
1951 – Operation CLEAVER took place. This one-day tank and infantry raid by elements of the U.S. 24th Infantry Division at the eastern end of the Iron Triangle near Kumsong inflicted heavy losses on the communist.
1952 – USAF Captain Robinson Risner, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, destroyed his fifth and sixth MiG-15 near Sinuiju to become the 20th jet ace of the Korean War.
1953 – North Korean pilot Lieutenant Ro Kim Suk landed his aircraft at Kimpo airfield outside Seoul. The Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15, powered by a jet engine superior to those then used in American fighter planes, first saw combat in Korea during November 1950, where its performance shifted the balance of air power to Russian-backed North Korea. On April 26, 1953, two U.S. Air Force B-29s dropped leaflets behind enemy lines, offering a $50,000 reward and political asylum to any pilot delivering an intact MiG-15 to American forces for study. Although Ro denied any knowledge of the bounty, he collected the reward, and American scientists were able to examine the MiG-15.
1955 – The last allied occupying troops left Austria.
1961 – The U.S. Army’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, is activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The Special Forces were formed to organize and train guerrilla bands behind enemy lines. President John F. Kennedy, a strong believer in the potential of the Special Forces in counterinsurgency operations, visited the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg to review the program and authorized the Special Forces to wear the headgear that became their symbol, the Green Beret. The 5th S.F. Group was sent to Vietnam in October 1964, to assume control of all Special Forces operations in Vietnam. Prior to this time, Green Berets had been assigned to Vietnam only on temporary duty. The primary function of the Special Forces in Vietnam was to organize the Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (CIDG) among South Vietnam’s Montagnard population. The Montagnards, “mountain people” or “mountaineers,” were a group of indigenous people made up of several tribes, such as the Rhade, Bru, and Jarai, who lived mainly in the highland areas of Vietnam. These forces manned camps along the mountainous border areas to guard against North Vietnamese infiltration. At the height of the war the 5th S.F. controlled 84 CIDG camps with more than 42,000 CIDG strike forces and local militia units. The CIDG program ended in December 1970 with the transfer of troops and mission to the South Vietnamese Border Ranger Command. In February 1971, the 5th Special Forces Group was withdrawn as part of the U.S. troop drawdown.
1961 – Maiden flight of the CH-47 Chinook transportation helicopter. The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is an American twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter. Its primary roles are troop movement, artillery placement and battlefield resupply. It has a wide loading ramp at the rear of the fuselage and three external-cargo hooks. With a top speed of 170 knots (196 mph, 315 km/h) the helicopter is faster than contemporary 1960s utility and attack helicopters. The CH-47 is among the heaviest lifting Western helicopters. Its name is from the Native American Chinook people. The Chinook was designed and initially produced by Boeing Vertol in the early 1960s; it is now produced by Boeing Rotorcraft Systems. It is one of the few aircraft of that era – along with the fixed-wing Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft – that remain in production and frontline service, with over 1,200 built to date. The helicopter has been sold to 16 nations with the U.S. Army and the Royal Air Force (see Boeing Chinook (UK variants)) being its largest users.
1964 – The North American XB-70 Valkyrie, the world’s first Mach 3 bomber, makes its maiden flight from Palmdale, California.
1974 – US Mariner 10 made a 2nd fly-by of Mercury.
1975 – Self-proclaimed revolutionary Sara Jane Moore attempted to kill President Gerald Ford as he walked from a San Francisco hotel. A bullet she fired slightly wounded a man in the crowd.
1976 – Chilean exile Orlando Letelier, one time foreign minister to Chilean President Salvador Allende, was killed when a bomb exploded in his car in Washington D.C. He was assassinated by order from Chile by Gen’l. Manuel Contreras, head of the secret police known as DINA. Ronni Moffitt (25), an American colleague of Letelier, was also killed. Contreras was convicted of the order in 1993 and sentenced to a 7-year prison term. In 2000 Gen. Pinochet was linked to the killing.
1977 – A nuclear non-proliferation pact is signed by 15 countries, including the United States and the Soviet Union.
1984 – Mid East Force begins escort of U.S. flagged vessels in Persian Gulf.
1987 – A U.S. helicopter gunship disabled an Iranian vessel, the “Iran Ajr,” that was caught laying mines in the Persian Gulf; four Iranian crewmen were killed, 26 wounded and detained.
1992 – President Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly, offering U.S. support to strengthen international peacekeeping.
1992 – Former defense secretaries Melvin Laird and James R. Schlesinger told a congressional committee the Pentagon had known American airmen were alive in Laos at the end of the Vietnam War and were not returned.
1996 – The board of all-male Virginia Military Institute voted to admit women.
1998 – In New York Wadih el Hage, a Texas American citizen who served as the personal secretary for Osama bin laden in Sudan, was indicted for lying to a Manhattan grand jury investigating bin Laden.
1998 – In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Mustafa Mahmoud Said Ahmen of Egypt and Rashid Saleh Hemed of Tanzania were charged with murder in connection with the bombing of the US Embassy.
2000 – A Belgrade court found Pres. Clinton and other world leaders guilty of war crimes for the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. 14 leaders were sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison. The 120-page indictment charged the leaders for the deaths of 546 Yugoslav army soldiers, 138 Serbian police officers and 504 civilians, including 88 children.
2001 – A US unmanned reconnaissance plane was downed in Afghanistan.
2001 – A US Taurus rocket, made by Orbital Sciences, carrying a NASA satellite failed to launch and probably plunged into the Indian ocean.
2001 – In Afghanistan the ruling Taliban rejected Pres. Bush’s ultimatum and to give up Osama bin Laden. The Taliban also threatened to hang Afghan aid workers if they communicate with their int’l. counterparts.
2001 – Terrorist suspects were arrested in Britain (4), France (7), Germany (2 warrants), Peru (3 detained) and Yemen (20 detained). Lofti Raissi, an Algerian pilot arrested in Britain, was later described as the “lead instructor” to 4 of the hijackers. Raissi was released Feb 12, 2002, for lack of evidence.
2001 – Deep Space 1 flies within 2,200 km of Comet Borrelly. Deep Space 1 (DS1) is a spacecraft of the NASA New Millennium Program dedicated to testing a payload of advanced, high risk technologies. Launched on 24 October 1998, the Deep Space mission carried out a flyby of asteroid 9969 Braille, which was selected as the mission’s science target. Its mission was extended twice to include an encounter with Comet Borrelly and further engineering testing. Problems during its initial stages and with its star tracker led to repeated changes in mission configuration. While the flyby of the asteroid was a partial success, the encounter with the comet retrieved valuable information.
2002 – Iraq rejects U.S. efforts to secure new U.N. resolutions threatening war. Iraqi state-run radio announces Baghdad will not abide by the unfavourable new resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council. U.N. chief inspector Hans Blix says he expects an advance team of inspectors to be in Iraq by October 15, and some early inspections could be carried out soon afterward.
2003 – NASA’s $1.5 billion Galileo mission ended a 14-year exploration of the solar system’s largest planet and its moons with the spacecraft crashing by design into Jupiter at 108,000 mph.
2004 – The new $219 million Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian opened in Washington DC. It included some 800,000 artifacts collected by George Gustav Heye (1874-1957).
2004 – President Bush, defending his decision to invade Iraq, urged the U.N. General Assembly to stand united with the country’s struggling government.
2004 – US forces killed 6 Afghan guerrillas following a rocket attack on a helicopter.
2004 – Iran revealed that it started converting tons of raw uranium as part of a process that could be used to make nuclear arms.
2004 – A posting on an Islamic Web site claimed that the al-Qaida-linked group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has slain US hostage Jack Hensley.
2004 – A Turkish construction company announced that it was halting operations in neighboring Iraq in a bid to save the lives of 10 employees kidnapped by militants.
2006 – The Space Shuttle Atlantis lands at Kennedy Space Center, ending STS-115 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). It was the first assembly mission to the ISS after the Columbia disaster, following the two successful Return to Flight missions, STS-114 and STS-121. STS-115 launched from Pad 39-B at the Kennedy Space Center on 9 September 2006 at 11:14:55 EDT (15:14:55 UTC). The mission is also referred to as ISS-12A by the ISS program. The mission delivered the second port-side truss segment (ITS P3/P4), a pair of solar arrays (2A and 4A), and batteries. A total of three spacewalks were performed, during which the crew connected the systems on the installed trusses, prepared them for deployment, and did other maintenance work on the station. STS-115 was originally scheduled to launch in April 2003. However, the Columbia accident in February 2003 pushed the date back to 27 August 2006, which was again moved back for various reasons, including a threat from Tropical Storm Ernesto and the strongest lightning strike to ever hit an occupied shuttle launchpad.
2011 – Two American hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, are set free on bail by Iran as a humanitarian gesture, after being detained in prison for over two years under allegations of espionage.
2014 – Over 60,000 Syrian Kurds flee into Turkey ahead of an ISIL offensive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *