This Day in U.S. Military History…… September 26

26 September
1777 – The British army launched a major offensive during the American Revolution, capturing Philadelphia. After nearly a month so skirmishing, Howe finally outmaneuvered Washington and marched into Philadelphia unopposed. Capture of the rebel capital did not bring the end to the rebellion as the British thought it would. In 18th Century warfare, normally the side that captured the other side’s capital city won the war. But the war was to continue for six more years (until 1783) given the unconventional warfare at the time.
1781 – French fleet defeats British at Yorktown, VA.
1786 – Protestors shut down the court in Springfield, Massachusetts in a military standoff that begins Shays’ Rebellion. Fueled by perceived economic terrorism and growing disaffection with State and Federal governments, Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays led a group of rebels (called Shaysites) in rising up first against Massachusetts’ courts, and later in marching on the United States’ Federal Armory at Springfield in an unsuccessful attempt to seize its weaponry and overthrow the government. Although Shays’ Rebellion met with defeat militarily, it bore fruit in forcing the Federal government to reconsider the extent of its own powers at the U.S. Constitutional Convention, and by drawing General George Washington out of retirement en route to his Presidency, among influencing other changes to America’s young democracy.
1789 – Thomas Jefferson was appointed America’s first Secretary of State; John Jay the first chief justice of the United States; Samuel Osgood the first Postmaster-General; and Edmund Jennings Randolph the first Attorney General.
1864 – Confederate General Sterling Price invades Missouri and attacks a Yankee garrison at Pilot Knob. Price’s troops captured a fort and scattered the Union defenders, but also suffered heavy losses. The Confederate military fortunes were at an all-time low, and Price had hoped that the mission would destabilize Missouri just prior to the fall elections and give new hope to the Confederate cause. He also hoped to capture one of the major cities in Missouri and secure supplies for his troops. Price mounted his campaign from Pocahontas, Arkansas, and entered Missouri in mid-September. On September 26, he hurled his 12,000 troops at Fort Davidson at Pilot Knob. Two days later, the Confederates drove the 1,400 Yankee defenders away, but the attack was time-consuming and costly. Price lost 1,200 men and gained little in the way of strategic value or political impact. The rest of Price’s raid didn’t fare any better. He was harassed by state militia and had difficulty raising supplies; and Union resistance at important points such as the capital, Jefferson City, was much greater than expected. Through October, Price drove north to St. Louis, west to Kansas City, and then south into Texas. Much of his force disintegrated along the way, and in November Missouri voters elected Radical Republicans into office.
1901 – Leon Czolgosz, who murdered President William McKinley, was sentenced to death.
1910 – First recorded reference to provision for aviation in Navy Department organization.
1913 – The first boat was raised in the locks of the Panama Canal.
1915 – “Horse Marines” engaged Haitian bandits near Petite Riviere.
1918 – First Army of General John Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force launches what becomes known as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive to the north of Verdun. It is one of several attacks planned by France’s Marshal Ferdinand Foch to drive the Germans from the defenses of the Hindenburg Line and precipitate their surrender. First Army, some one million men split between three corps, is holding a front of about 17 miles, extending from Forges on the Meuse River into the Argonne Forrest. To the left of the First Army is General H.J.E. Gouraud’s French Fourth Army. The US forces are opposed by General Max von Gallwitz’s Army Group, while the French are facing Crown Prince Frederick William’s Army Group. The US and French deploy 37 divisions, while German forces comprise 24 divisions. The German’s hold three strongly-fortified defensive lines in difficult terrain. The attack begins at 0525 hours and US forces make rapid gains, advancing 10 miles in the first five days of the offensive. French progress is more slow.
1918 – The Imperial German Navy’s submarine UB-91 torpedoed and sank the CGC Tampa (formerly named Miami) which was escorting a convoy bound for Milford Haven, Wales, with all hands. 111 Coast Guardsmen, as well as four U.S. Navy, 11 Royal Navy, and five civilian passengers were killed. The bodies of two of the Coast Guard crew were recovered and buried in a small church yard in Lamphey, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Great Britain. One body was returned to the family in the U.S. after the war while one, who was never identified, is still interred in Lamphey’s church yard to this day. Local residents care for the grave.
1931 – Keel laying at Newport News, VA of USS Ranger (CV-4), first ship designed and constructed as an aircraft carrier.
1931 – As more and more Americans lost their jobs, President Hoover stepped in on this day and convened a national conference on unemployment. On the agenda was not just the shortage of jobs, but how to address the discontentment of those Americans who had previously been shortchanged by the labor system. After serving in World War I, African-Americans were beginning to protest job discrimination and their relegation to low-paying work. In response, the Hoover Conference suggested a jobs program, as well as a slash in prices. Although this wouldn’t directly stimulate jobs, the Commission hoped it would make goods more readily available to all citizens.
1938 – Hitler issued his ultimatum to Czech government, demanding Sudetenland.
1940 – An American embargo is imposed on the export of all scrap iron and steel to Japan.
1941 – A Provost Marshal General’s Office and Corps of Military Police were established in 1941. Prior to that time, except during the Civil War and World War I, there was no regularly appointed Provost Marshal General or regularly constituted Military Police Corps, although a “Provost Marshal” can be found as early as January 1776, and a “Provost Corps” as early as 1778.
1942 – The CGC Ingham rescued eight survivors from the torpedoed SS Tennessee.
1943 – The advance of the British 10th Corps (part of US 5th Army) advances without resistance. The German rearguard has withdrawn, because all German forces inland have successfully been pulled back.
1944 – Operation Market-Garden, a plan to seize bridges in the Dutch town of Arnhem, fails, as thousands of British and Polish troops are killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. British Gen. Bernard Montgomery conceived an operation to take control of bridges that crossed the Rhine River, from the Netherlands into Germany, as a strategy to make “a powerful full-blooded thrust to the heart of Germany.” The plan seemed cursed from the beginning. It was launched on September 17, with parachute troops and gliders landing in Arnhem. Holding out as long as they could, waiting for reinforcements, they were compelled to surrender. Unfortunately, a similar drop of equipment was delayed, and there were errors in locating the proper drop location and bad intelligence on German troop strength. Added to this, bad weather and communication confused the coordination of the Allied troops on the ground. The Germans quickly destroyed the railroad bridge and took control of the southern end of the road bridge. The Allies struggled to control the northern end of the road bridge, but soon lost it to the superior German forces. The only thing left was retreat-back behind Allied lines. But few made it: Of more than 10,000 British and Polish troops engaged at Arnhem, only 2,900 escaped. Claims were made after the fact that a Dutch Resistance fighter, Christiaan Lindemans, betrayed the Allies, which would explain why the Germans were arrayed in such numbers at such strategic points. A conservative member of the British Parliament, Rupert Allason, writing under the named Nigel West, dismissed this conclusion in his A Thread of Deceit, arguing that Lindemans, while a double agent, “was never in a position to betray Arnhem.” Winston Churchill would lionize the courage of the fallen Allied soldiers with the epitaph “Not in vain.” Arnhem was finally liberated on April 15, 1945.
1945 – President Truman announces that, under a decision at the recent Potsdam Conference, the surviving German naval vessels will be divided equally between the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. He notes also that no decision has been made on the disposal of the Imperial Japanese Fleet.
1945 – Lt. Col. Peter Dewey, a U.S. Army officer with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Vietnam, is shot and killed in Saigon. Dewey was the head of a seven-man team sent to Vietnam to search for missing American pilots and to gather information on the situation in the country after the surrender of the Japanese. According to the provisions of the Potsdam Conference, the British were assigned the responsibility of disarming Japanese soldiers south of the 16th parallel. However, with the surrender of the Japanese, Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh declared themselves the rightful government of Vietnam. This angered the French colonial officials and the remaining French soldiers who had been disarmed and imprisoned by the Japanese. They urged British Maj. Gen. Douglas D. Gracey to help them regain control. Gracey, not fond of the Viet Minh or their cause, rearmed 1,400 French soldiers to help his troops maintain order. The next day these forces ousted the Viet Minh from the offices that they had only recently occupied. Dewey’s sympathies lay with the Viet Minh, many of whom were nationalists who did not want a return to French colonial rule. The American officer was an outspoken man who soon angered Gracey, eventually resulting in the British general ordering him to leave Indochina. On the way to the airport, accompanied by another OSS officer, Capt. Henry Bluechel, Dewey refused to stop at a roadblock manned by three Viet Minh soldiers. He yelled back at them in French and they opened fire, killing Dewey instantly. Bluechel was unhurt and escaped on foot. It was later determined that the Viet Minh had fired on Dewey thinking he was French. He would prove to be the first of nearly 59,000 Americans killed in Vietnam.
1950 – Elements of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 7th Cavalry Regiment, driving north from the Pusan Perimeter, linked up with elements of the 7th Infantry Division’s 31st Infantry Regiment near Suwon.
1950 – The USS Brush struck a free-floating mine and 13 sailors were killed and 34 others seriously wounded. This was the first incident of a U.S. Navy ship hitting a mine during the war.
1952 – U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Cecil Foster, 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, flying an F-80 Shooting Star jet fighter, shot down a pair of MiG-15s for his second and third aerial kills.
1953 – US and Spain signed a defense treaty with 4 US bases to be set in Spain.
1960 – Fidel Castro announces Cuba’s support for the U.S.S.R.
1963 – First steam-eject launch of Polaris missile at sea off Cape Canaveral, FL (now Cape Kennedy) from USS Observation Island (EAG-154).
1967 – Hanoi rejected a U.S. peace proposal.
1969 – President Nixon, speaking at a news conference, cites “some progress” in the effort to end the Vietnam War and says, “We’re on the right course in Vietnam.” Urging the American people to give him the support and time he needed to end the war honorably, Nixon said, “If we have a united front, the enemy will begin to talk [at the negotiating table in Paris].” Nixon branded the attitude of Senator Charles Goodell (R-NY), and others like him in Congress as “defeatist.” Goodell had only days before proposed legislation which failed to pass, but would have required the withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of 1970, and barred the use of congressionally appropriated funds after December 1, 1970, for maintaining U.S. military personnel in Vietnam. In response to Nixon’s remarks, 24 liberal Democratic congressmen held a private caucus. The group decided to endorse the nationwide protest scheduled for October 15 and agreed to press in Congress for resolutions calling for an end to the war and a withdrawal of U.S. troops; over the next three weeks, there would be 10 such proposals. None of these passed, but they indicated the mounting opposition to “Nixon’s war.”
1972 – Richard M. Nixon met with Emperor Hirohito in Anchorage, Alaska, the first-ever meeting of a U.S. President and a Japanese Monarch.
1983 – Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov averts a likely worldwide nuclear war by correctly identifying a report of an incoming nuclear missile as a computer error and not an American first strike. The nuclear early warning system of the Soviet Union twice reported the launch of American Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles from bases in the United States. These missile attack warnings were correctly identified as a false alarm by Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov, an officer of the Soviet Air Defense Forces. This decision is seen as having prevented an erroneous data for decision about retaliatory nuclear attack on the United States and its NATO allies, which would have likely resulted in nuclear war and the potential deaths of millions of people. Investigation of the satellite warning system later confirmed that the system had malfunctioned.
1988 – In a farewell speech to the U.N. General Assembly, President Reagan saw “a moment for hope” for peace in the world, citing a new U.S.-Soviet treaty to sharply reduce nuclear arms due during the following year.
1989 – In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze accepted President Bush’s call for deep cuts in U.S. and Soviet chemical weapon stockpiles. Shevardnadze called for the total destruction of Soviet and US chemical weapons.
1994 – Coast Guard forces departed for Haiti in support of Operation Restore Democracy.
1996 – U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid returns to Earth in the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis following six months in orbit aboard the Russian space station Mir. On March 23, 1996, Lucid transferred to Mir from the same space shuttle for a planned five-month stay. A biochemist, Lucid shared Mir with Russian cosmonauts Yuri Onufriyenko and Yuri Usachev and conducted scientific experiments during her stay. She was the first American woman to live in a space station. Beginning in August, her scheduled return to Earth was delayed by more than six weeks because of last-minute repairs to the booster rockets of Atlantis and then by a hurricane. Finally, on September 26, 1996, she returned to Earth aboard Atlantis, touching down at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Her 188-day sojourn aboard Mir set a new space endurance record for an American and a world endurance record for a woman.
1997 – US and Russia signed a package of arms control agreements that extended parts of START II to 2007. Systems were still required to be disabled by 2003. Other accords modified the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 with Belarus, Kazakstan, the Ukraine and Russia to allow flexibility for the development of short range systems.
2001 – In Afghanistan protesters turned a Taliban march into an attack on the mothballed US Embassy in Kabul.
2001 – Spain detained 6 Algerians with alleged links to Osama bin Laden and a group planning attacks on US targets in Europe.
2001 – Sudan began rounding up extremists that have used the country as an operating base.
2002 – Britain and the United States reach agreement on a tough United Nations Security Council resolution which threatens Saddam Hussein with severe consequences if he fails to grant weapons inspectors unfettered access to Iraq. Russia, China and France express grave reservations about the Anglo-American text.
2002 – NATO planned to issue invitations in November to Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Expansion would commit the current 19 members to defend the borders of the new members.
2004 – Suicide attackers detonated a pair of car bombs outside an Iraqi National Guard compound west of the capital, wounding American and Iraqi forces. An insurgent rocket hit a busy Baghdad neighborhood, killing at least one person and wounding eight.
2004 – In Pakistan Amjad Hussain Farooqi, accused in two attempts on the life of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in December 2003, died in a four-hour shootout at a house in the southern town of Nawabshah. He was also wanted for his alleged role in the 2002 kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
2005 – U.S. Army PFC Lynndie England is found guilty of six of seven charges by a military court in connection with the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin September 27. U.S. Army PFC Lynndie England is found guilty of six of seven charges by a military court in connection with the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin September 27.
2006 – Operation Mountain Thrust, a follow-up operation to Operation Medusa, to clear Taliban rebels from the eastern provinces of Afghanistan began. Another focus of the operation was to enable reconstruction projects such as schools, health-care facilities, and courthouses to take place in the targeted provinces. During the operation, the Taliban suffered large losses during direct battle with NATO coalition forces; as a result, they are expected to focus more on tactics such as the use of Improvised Explosive Devices.
2006 – 10th Mountain Division began their combat operations against the Taliban forces that were entrenched in the mountains on the border with Pakistan in the east in the provinces of Paktika, Khost, Ghazni, Paktia, Logar and Nuristan, establishing many remote outposts in regions that were previously Taliban dominated. These outposts came almost under continued attacks as well as did the American combat patrols.
2007 – United States District Court judge Ann Aiken rules that two sections of the Patriot Act are unconstitutional because they allow search warrants to be issued without a showing of probable cause. The so-called “sneak and peek” law had allowed for delayed notification of the execution of search warrants. The period before which the FBI must notify the recipients of the order was unspecified in the Act—the FBI field manual said that it was a “flexible standard” — and it could be extended at the court’s discretion.
2009 – Three detainees held by the United States at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, are sent abroad to two countries. Ireland accepts two detainees of Uzbeki origin in a humanitarian gesture, with Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Dermot Ahern saying Ireland was one of the first countries in Europe to call for the closure of Guantánamo Bay and that the two men would now be given time to rebuild their lives.
2010 – The US Department of Defense admits purchasing nearly 10,000 copies of a memoir by U.S. Army Reserve officer Anthony Shaffer, destroying all of them in an effort to suppress secret information and ordering heavy redaction of the book’s second printing.
2013 – The United States and Russia agree on a draft United Nations Security Council resolution aiming to rid Syria of its chemical weapons.

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