Feast Day of St. Maurice, Patron Saint of Infantry: Maurice was an officer of the Theban Legion of Emperor Maximian Herculius’ army, which was composed of Christians from Upper Egypt. He and his fellow legionnaires refused to sacrifice to the gods as ordered by the Emperor to insure victory over rebelling Bagaudae. When they refused to obey repeated orders to do so and withdrew from the army encamped at Octodurum (Martigny) near Lake Geneva to Agaunum (St. Maurice-en-Valais), Maximian had the entire Legion of over six thousand men put to death. To the end they were encouraged in their constancy by Maurice and two fellow officers, Exuperius and Candidus. Also executed was Victor (October 10th), who refused to accept any of the belongings of the dead soldiers. In a follow-up action, other Christians put to death were Ursus and another Victor at Solothurin (September 30th); Alexander at Bergamo; Octavius, Innocent, Adventor, and Solutar at Turin; and Gereon (October 10th) at Cologne.
1554 – Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez, his health badly deteriorated from injuries and the toll of his strenuous travels, dies. He never found the fabled cities of gold that he had sought for decades. A quarter-century earlier Coronado had explored much of the southwestern United States, leading his force of 300 Spaniards and 800 Indians northward from Mexico in search of the Seven Cities of Cíbola that were rumored to have walls made of gold and treasure houses filled with priceless gems. Arriving in the region that today straddles the border between New Mexico and Arizona, Coronado did actually find Cíbola. But after winning a brief battle against the native defenders, Coronado discovered he had conquered only a modest Zuni village built with walls of adobe mud, not gold. Discouraged, Coronado considered abandoning his search. But while exploring the Rio Grande one of his lieutenants had acquired a slave, a man the Spaniards called “the Turk,” who boasted that in his homeland of Quivara, far to the northeast, Coronado could find all the treasures after which he lusted. Coronado set off in search of Quivara in the spring of 1541, eventually traveling across the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and up into Kansas. But when he finally made contact with the Quivara Indians, Coronado was once again disappointed to find that they were living in simple huts and had no more gold and silver than the Zunis. After strangling the Turk for having lied to him, Coronado gave up and returned to Mexico where he faced a government furious that he had not brought back the wealth he had promised. Coronado never again mounted another exploratory mission and died believing that he had been a shameful failure. But while he never found the golden cities he sought, Coronado did succeed in giving the Spanish and the rest of the world their first fairly accurate understanding of the inhabitants and geography of the southern half of the present United States.
1711 – The Tuscarora Indian War began with a massacre of settlers in North Carolina, following white encroachment that included the enslaving of Indian children.
1776 – In New York City, Nathan Hale, a Connecticut schoolteacher and captain in the Continental Army, is executed by the British for spying. A graduate of Yale University, Hale joined a Connecticut regiment in 1775 and served in the successful siege of British-occupied Boston. In the summer of 1776, he crossed behind British lines on Long Island in civilian clothes to spy on the British. While returning with the intelligence information, British soldiers captured Hale near the American lines and charged him with espionage. Taken to New York, he was hanged without trial the next day. Before being executed, legend holds that Hale said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” There is no historical record to prove that Hale actually made this statement, but if he did he may have been inspired by the lines in English author Joseph Addison’s 1713 play Cato: “What a pity it is/That we can die but once to serve our country.”
1776 – John Paul Jones in Providence sails into Canso Bay, Nova Scotia, and attacks British fishing fleet.
1855 – Marines and Seamen landed in Fiji Islands.
1862 – Motivated by his growing concern for the inhumanity of slavery as well as practical political concerns, President Abraham Lincoln changes the course of the war and American history by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. Announced a week after the nominal Union victory at the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), this measure did not technically free any slaves, but it redefined the Union’s war aim from reunification to the abolition of slavery. The proclamation announced that all slaves in territory that was still in rebellion as of January 1, 1863, would be free. Lincoln used vacated congressional seats to determine the areas still in rebellion, as some parts of the South had already been recaptured and representatives returned to Congress under Union supervision. Since it freed slaves only in Rebel areas that were beyond Union occupation, the Emancipation Proclamation really freed no one. But the measure was still one of the most important acts in American history, as it meant slavery would end when those areas were recaptured. In addition, the proclamation effectively sabotaged Confederate attempts to secure recognition by foreign governments, especially Great Britain. When reunification was the goal of the North, foreigners could view the Confederates as freedom fighters being held against their will by the Union. But after the Emancipation Proclamation, the Southern cause was now viewed as the defense of slavery. The proclamation was a shrewd maneuver by Lincoln to brand the Confederate States as a slave nation and render foreign aid impossible. The measure was met by a good deal of opposition, because many Northerners were unwilling to fight for the freedom of blacks. But it spelled the death knell for slavery, and it had the effect on British opinion that Lincoln had desired. Antislavery Britain could no longer recognize the Confederacy, and Union sentiment swelled in Britain. With this measure, Lincoln effectively isolated the Confederacy and killed the institution that was the root of sectional differences.
1863 – Acting Master David Nichols and a crew of 19 Confederate seamen captured Army tug Leviathan before dawn at South West pass, Mississippi River, but were taken prisoner later that morning when U.S.S. De Soto, Captain W. M. Walker, recaptured the prize in the Gulf of Mexico some 40 miles off shore. Nichols and his men had departed Mobile 2 or 3 days before in the small cutter Teaser. Reaching South West Pass, they pulled the cutter into the marshes and made their way on foot to the coal wharf where Leviathan lay. They seized the tug, described by Captain Walker as a new and very fast screw steamer, amply supplied with coal and provisions for a cruise,” and put to sea at once. Shortly thereafter, Commodore Bell ordered Navy ships in pursuit. At midmorning, U.S.S. De Soto fired three shots at the tug and brought her to.
1863 – Expedition under Acting Master George W. Ewer from U.S.S. Seneca destroyed the Hudson Place Salt Works near Darien, Georgia. Ewer reported that the works, producing some 10 or 15 bushels of salt a day, were now “completely useless.”
1864 – Union General Philip Sheridan defeated Confederate General Jubal Early’s troops at the Battle of Fisher’s Hill, in Virginia. Gen Early retreated to Brown’s Gap. Sheridan set up camp in Harrisonburg, Va.
1868 – Race riots took place in New Orleans, La.
1893 – America’s first automobile was not built by a Henry Ford or Walter Chrysler, but by Charles and Frank Duryea, two bicycle makers. Charles spotted a gasoline engine at the 1886 Ohio State Fair and became convinced that an engine-driven carriage could be built. The two brothers designed and built the car together, working in a rented loft in Springfield, Massachusetts. After two years of tinkering, Charles and Frank Duryea showed off their home invention on the streets of Springfield, the first successful run of an automobile in the U.S.
1919 – President Woodrow Wilson abandoned his national tour to support the League of Nations when he suffered a case of nervous exhaustion.
1919 – The steel strike of 1919, led by the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, begins in Pennsylvania setting in motion a train of events that will result in martial law and the involvement of the US Army.
1940 – The Vichy government concludes an agreement permitting Japan to station troops and use facilities in Tonkin (northern Vietnam). Allegedly ignorant of the new agreement, Japanese troops cross the border from China and attack and take French-held Langson and Dong Dang after heavy fighting. The French order a halt to all resistance. Although the French administrative machinery is left intact to “rule,’ the Japanese by degrees consolidate their position until by opening of the general Asian War in December 1941, Vietnam is a virtual colony of Japan, and remains so for the duration of WWII.
1942 – The Communications Branch of the OSS is formed by General Donovan.
1943 – The US 5th Army is preparing to advance in Italy.
1943 – The invasion of Finschafen, New Guinea: an Allied invasion fleet, including Coast Guard-manned landing ships, landed Australian troops at Finschafen. Coast Guard-manned ships in the invasion fleet included USSs LST-18, LST-67, LST-168, and LST-204. There were no casualties among the Coast Guard LSTs.
1944 – On Peleliu, US 3rd Amphibious Corps (Geiger) deploys a regiment of US 81st Infantry Division to replace depleted elements of the US 1st Marine Division. The marines have suffered heavy casualties in attacks on Mount Umurbrogol.
1944 – US Task Force 38 conducts air strikes on Japanese targets on Luzon, particularly Manila and Manila Bay. Twelve American carriers are involved.
1945 – President Truman accepted U.S. Secretary of War Stimson’s recommendation to designate the war World War II.
1945 – Gen. George S. Patton tells reporters that he does not see the need for “this denazification thing” and compares the controversy over Nazism to a “Democratic and Republican election fight.” Once again, “Old Blood and Guts” had put his foot in his mouth. Descended from a long line of military men, Patton graduated from the West Point Military Academy in 1909 and served in the Tank Corps during World War I. As a result of this experience, Patton became a dedicated proponent of tank warfare. During World War II, as commander of the U.S. 7th Army, he captured Palermo, Sicily, in 1943 by just such means. Patton’s audacity made itself evident in 1944, when, as commander of the 3rd Army, he overran much of northern France in an unorthodox–and ruthless–strategy. Along the way, Patton’s mouth proved as dangerous to his career as the Germans. When he berated and slapped a hospitalized soldier diagnosed with shell shock, but whom Patton accused of “malingering,” the press turned on him, and pressure was applied to cut him down to size. He might have found himself enjoying early retirement had not Generals Dwight Eisenhower and George Marshall intervened on his behalf. After several months of inactivity, he was put back to work. And work he did–at the Battle of the Bulge, during which Patton once again succeeded in employing a complex and quick-witted strategy, turning the German thrust in Bastogne into an Allied counterthrust, driving the Germans east across the Rhine. In March 1945, Patton’s army swept through southern Germany into Czechoslovakia–which he was stopped by the Allies from capturing, out of respect for the Soviets’ postwar political plans for Eastern Europe. Patton had many gifts, but diplomacy was not one of them. After the war, while stationed in Germany, he criticized the process of denazification, or the removal of former Nazi party members from positions of political, administrative, and governmental power, probably out of naivete more than anything else. Nevertheless, his impolitic press statements questioning the policy resulted in Eisenhower’s removing him as U.S. commander in Bavaria. He was transferred to the 15th Army Group, but in December 1945 he suffered a broken neck in a car accident and died less than two weeks later at the age of 60.
1945 – The 5thMarDiv landed at Sasebo, Japan, for occupation duty.
1947 – A Douglas C-54 Skymaster made the first automatic-pilot flight over the Atlantic.
1950 – Omar N. Bradley was promoted to the rank of five-star general, joining an elite group that included Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, George C. Marshall and Henry H. “Hap” Arnold.
1950 – Eighth Army completed its breakout from the Pusan Perimeter. Outflanked by the Inchon invasion in the north and under relentless pressure of the U.N. Forces’ attack from the south, the In Mun Gun began a wholesale withdrawal to the north.
1951 – The 2nd Infantry Division’s struggle for Heartbreak Ridge continued. By the time the battle was over Oct. 15, 1951, the division has suffered 3,700 casualties.
1958 – The nuclear submarine USS Skate remained a record 31 days under the North Pole.
1971 – Captain Ernest Medina is acquitted of all charges relating to the My Lai massacre of March 1968. His unit, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade (Light) of the 23rd (Americal) Division, was charged with the murder of over 200 Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, at My Lai 4, a cluster of hamlets that made up Son My village in Son Tinh District in Quang Ngai Province in the coastal lowlands of I Corps Tactical Zone. Medina had been charged with murder, manslaughter, and assault. All charges were dropped when the military judge at the Medina’s court martial made an error in instructing the jury. After the charges were dropped, Medina subsequently resigned from the service. There were 13 others charged with various crimes in conjunction with the My Lai massacre, but only one, Lt. William Calley, was found guilty. Calley was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 22 civilians, but his sentence was reduced first to 20 years, then 10 years, and he was ultimately paroled by President Nixon in November 1974, after having served about one-third of his sentence.
1975 – President Gerald R. Ford dodged a second assassination in less than three weeks. Sara Jane Moore, an FBI informer and self-proclaimed revolutionary, attempted to shoot President Ford outside a San Francisco hotel, but missed. A bullet she fired slightly wounded a man in the crowd.
1980 – Iraq invaded Iran following border skirmishes and a dispute over the Shatt al-Arab waterway. This marked the beginning of a war that would last eight years. Iraq invaded Iran striking refineries and an oil-loading terminal on Kharg Island. The Iraqis used the political instability in Iran to try to capture long-disputed territory. They attacked across the Shatt al Arab River, a trunk of the great Tigris-Euphrates river system.
1987 – U.S. forces attack an Iranian mine-laying vessel in the Persian Gulf.
1989 – After Hurricane Hugo, Sailors and Marines provide assistance to Charleston, SC, through 10 October.
1990 – The second port security unit, PSU 301, was deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield.
1993 – The space shuttle “Discovery” and its five astronauts landed at Kennedy Space Center, ending a 10-day mission.
1994 – The United States stepped up its military control of Haiti, breaking up heavy weapons, guarding pro-democracy activists and giving U.S. troops more leeway to use force.
1995 – An AWACS plane carrying US and Canadian military personnel crashed on takeoff from Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage, Alaska, killing all 24 people aboard.
1997 – President Clinton, addressing the United Nations, told world leaders to “end all nuclear tests for all time” as he sent the long-delayed global test-ban treaty to the Senate.
1998 – The U.S. and Russia agreed to help Russia privatize its nuclear program and stop the export of scientists and plutonium.
2001 – President Bush consulted at length with Russian President Vladimir Putin as the United States mustered a military assault on terrorism in the wake of Sept. 11.
2001 – In Afghanistan there was heavy fighting in the northern provinces of Balkh and Samangan. 39 Taliban were reported killed along with 2 opposition fighters.
2003 – A suicide bomber, his body wrapped in explosives and his car filled with 50 pounds of TNT, struck a police checkpoint outside UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing an Iraqi policeman who stopped him and wounding 19 people.
2004 – In Iraq kidnappers seized 4 Egyptians and four Iraqis working for the country’s mobile phone company.
2004 – Suicide attackers detonated a car bomb near an Iraqi National Guard recruiting center in west Baghdad, killing at least six people and injuring 54. US aircraft and tanks attacked Shiite militia positions in fierce fighting in Baghdad’s Sadr City slum, killing 10 people and injuring 92 others.
2006 – The U.S. military officially retires the F-14 Tomcat having been supplanted by the Boeing F/A-18E and F Super Hornets. The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a fourth-generation, supersonic, twinjet, two-seat, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. The Tomcat was developed for the United States Navy’s Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program following the collapse of the F-111B project. The F-14 was the first of the American teen-series fighters, which were designed incorporating the experience of air combat against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War. The F-14 first flew in December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), replacing the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy’s primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor and tactical reconnaissance platform. In the 1990s, it added the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod system and began performing precision ground-attack missions. As of 2014, the F-14 was in service with only the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, having been exported to Iran in 1976, when the U.S. had amicable diplomatic relations with Iran.
2011 – The Anniston Chemical Activity destroys its last mustard gas shells, becoming the fifth of nine US chemical weapons depots to close under terms of the Chemical Weapons Treaty.
2011 – Representatives of the United States and European nations walk out of the General Assembly of the United Nations during an accusatory speech by the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
2011 – The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests suspected members of the computer hacking groups LulzSec and Anonymous in the US cities of Phoenix, Arizona and San Francisco, California.
2014 – NASA’s MAVEN space probe successfully arrives in orbit over Mars. Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) is a space probe designed to study the Martian atmosphere while orbiting Mars. Mission goals include determining how the Martian atmosphere and water, presumed to have once been substantial, were lost over time. MAVEN was successfully launched aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle at the beginning of the first launch window on November 18, 2013. Following the first engine burn of the Centaur second stage, the vehicle coasted in low Earth orbit for 27 minutes before a second Centaur burn of five minutes to insert it into a heliocentric Mars transit orbit. On September 21, 2014 at 10:24 EDT, MAVEN was inserted into an areocentric elliptic orbit upon reaching Mars 6,200 km (3,900 mi) by 150 km (93 mi) above the planet’s surface.
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