1777 – At the Battle of Germantown the British defeated Washington’s army. English General William Howe occupied Philadelphia.
1777 – Lancaster, Pennsylvania is the capital of the United States, for one day as Congress pauses there following its evacuation of Philadelphia.
1779 – John Adams was named to negotiate the Revolutionary War’s peace terms with Britain.
1787 – The US Constitution was submitted to states for ratification.
1809 – Raphael Semmes (d.1877), Rear Admiral (Confederate Navy), was born.
1813 – Marines served aboard ships in battle against the British on Lake Ontario.
1840 – Alfred T. Mahan, navy admiral, was born. He wrote “The Influence of Seapower on History” and other books that encouraged world leaders to build larger navies. Although a brilliant naval historian and noted theorist on the importance of sea power to national defense, Alfred Thayer Mahan hated the sea and dreaded his duties as a ship’s captain.
1863 – Jo Shelby’s cavalry in action at Moffat’s Station, Arkansas.
1864 – A guerilla band led by William “Bloody Bill” Anderson sacks the town of Centralia, Missouri, killing 22 unarmed Union soldiers before massacring 120 pursuing Yankees. The Civil War in Missouri and Kansas was rarely fought between regular armies in the field. It was carried out primarily by partisan bands of guerilla fighters, and the atrocities were nearly unmatched. In 1863, Confederate marauders sacked Lawrence, Kansas, and killed 250 residents. In 1864, partisan activity increased in anticipation of Confederate General Sterling Price’s invasion of the state. On the evening of September 26, a band of 200 Confederate marauders gathered near the town of Centralia, Missouri. The next morning, Anderson led 30 guerillas into Centralia and began looting the tiny community and terrorizing the residents. Unionist congressmen William Rollins escaped execution only by giving a false name and hiding in a nearby hotel. Meanwhile, a train from St. Louis was just pulling into the station. The engineer, who spotted Anderson’s men destroying the town, tried to apply steam to keep the train moving. However, the brakeman, unaware of the raid, applied the brakes and brought the train to a halt. The guerillas took 150 prisoners from the train, which included 23 Union soldiers, and then set it on fire and opened its throttle; the flaming train sped away from the town. The soldiers were stripped and Anderson’s men began firing on them, killing all but one within a few minutes. The surviving Yankee soldier was spared in exchange for a member of Anderson’s company who had recently been captured. That afternoon, a Union detachment commanded by Major A. V. E. Johnston arrived in Centralia to find the bushwhackers had already vacated the town. Johnston left some troops to hold the tiny burgh, and then headed in the direction of Anderson’s band. Little did he know he was riding right into a perfect trap: Johnston’s men followed Rebel pickets into an open field, and the Southern partisans attacked from three sides. Johnston and his entire command were quickly annihilated. Anderson’s men scalped and mutilated many of the bodies before moving back into Centralia and killing the remaining Federal soldiers. In all, the bushwhackers killed some 140 Yankee troops. A month later, Anderson was killed attempting a similar attack near Albany, Missouri.
1875 – The merchant sailing ship Ellen Southard is wrecked in a storm at Liverpool; the United States Congress subsequently awards 27 gold Lifesaving Medals to the lifeboat men who went to rescue her crew.
1918 – President Woodrow Wilson opened his fourth Liberty Loan campaign to support men and machines for World War I.
1922 – Report on observations of experiments with short wave radio at Anacostia, DC, starts Navy development of radar.
1928 – The United States said it was recognizing the Nationalist Chinese government.
1938 – League of Nations declared Japan the aggressor against China.
1939 – 140,000 Polish troops are taken prisoner by the German invaders as Warsaw surrenders to the superior mechanized forces of Hitler’s army. The Poles fought bravely, but were able to hold on for only 26 days. On the heels of its victory, the Germans began a systematic program of terror, murder, and cruelty, executing members of Poland’s middle and upper classes: Doctors, teachers, priests, landowners, and businessmen were rounded up and killed. The Nazis had given this operation the benign-sounding name “Extraordinary Pacification Action.” The Roman Catholic Church, too, was targeted, because it was a possible source of dissent and counterinsurgency. In one west Poland church diocese alone, 214 priests were shot. And hundreds of thousands more Poles were driven from their homes and relocated east, as Germans settled in the vacated areas. This was all part of a Hitler master plan. Back in August, Hitler warned his own officers that he was preparing Poland for that “which would not be to the taste of German generals”–including the rounding up of Polish Jews into ghettos, a prelude to their liquidation. All roads were pointing to Auschwitz.
1940 – Black leaders protested discrimination in US armed forces.
1940 – The Axis powers are formed as Germany, Italy, and Japan become allies with the signing of the Tripartite Pact in Berlin. The Pact provided for mutual assistance should any of the signatories suffer attack by any nation not already involved in the war. This formalizing of the alliance was aimed directly at “neutral” America–designed to force the United States to think twice before venturing in on the side of the Allies. The Pact also recognized the two spheres of influence. Japan acknowledged “the leadership of Germany and Italy in the establishment of a new order in Europe,” while Japan was granted lordship over “Greater East Asia.” A footnote: There was a fourth signatory to the Pact-Hungary, which was dragged into the Axis alliance by Germany in November 1940.
1941 – Launch of first Liberty ship, SS Patrick Henry, in Baltimore, MD. 13 sister ships are launched the same day.
1942 – Glenn Miller and his Orchestra performed together for the last time, at the Central Theater in Passaic, N.J., prior to Miller’s entry into the Army.
1942 – The S.S. Stephen Hopkins, a Liberty Ship with an all-San Francisco crew, engaged the German raider Stier and her tender, Tannenfels. It shelled and brought down the Stier and hit the Tannenfels before it was sunk. Of a crew of 58, only 15 survived. They reached the shore of Brazil after a 31-day voyage in an open lifeboat.
1942 – 1st Class Signalman Douglas A. Munro, U.S. Coast Guard, rescued Marines of 1/7 during Operation Pestilence on Guadalcanal. He is the only Medal of Honor recipient for the U.S. Coast Guard.
1944 – Thousands of British troops were killed as German forces rebuffed their massive effort to capture the Arnhem Bridge across the Rhine River in Holland.
1944 – Special Air Task Force (STAG-1) commences operations with drones, controlled by TBM aircraft, against Japanese in Southwestern Pacific
1944 – The US 20th Corps (part of US 3rd Army) begins attacks on the outer defenses of the fortress town of Metz. Meanwhile, the British 2nd Army achieves limited advances south of Arnhem in the Netherlands.
1944 – The Kassel Mission results in the largest loss by a USAAF group on any mission in World War II.
1949 – HUAC held hearings on alleged communist infiltration of the Radiation Laboratory at UC Berkeley.
1950 – While considerable mopping up remained, Seoul fell to the 1st Marine Division augmented by ROK Marines and troops of the 7th Infantry Division with the 17th ROK Regiment attached. Marine Private First Class Luther Leguire of Tampa, Fl, raised the Stars and Stripes above the looted residence of American Ambassador John J. Muccio.
1950 – President Truman authorized military operations north of the 38th parallel.
1950 – The Secretary of Defense authorized the Army to plan for 17 Army divisions and a strength of 1,263,000 for fiscal year 1951 and 18 divisions and a strength of 1,353,000 for fiscal year 1952.
1950 – For the purpose of alleviating attrition during the Korean War, Executive Order 10164 authorized the Coast Guard, in cases where enlisted personnel did not immediately reenlist in the Coast Guard, to extend enlistments for one year, if the date of expiration of enlistment occurred prior to 9 July 1951. The Coast Guard, however, adopted a policy of permitting the discharge of men upon expiration of enlistment, provided they immediately enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserve.
1956 – USAF Captain Milburn G. Apt becomes the first man to exceed Mach 3 while flying the Bell X-2. Shortly thereafter, the craft goes out of control and Captain Apt is killed.
1959 – Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev concluded his visit to the United States. During the visit he debated with Richard Nixon. He also saw the filming of Can Can and found the dance immoral. Bassetts produced 50 tubs of borscht sorbet in honor of Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Philadelphia.
1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald visited the Cuban consulate in Mexico.
1964 – The Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is released after a 10-month investigation, concluding that there was no conspiracy in the assassination, either domestic or international, and that Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, acted alone. The presidential commission, headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, also found that Jack Ruby, the nightclub owner who murdered Oswald on live national television, had no prior contact with Oswald. According to the report, the bullets that killed President Kennedy and injured Texas Governor John Connally were fired by Oswald in three shots from a rifle pointed out of a sixth floor window in the Texas School Book Depository. Oswald’s life, including his visit to the Soviet Union, was described in detail, but the report made no attempt to analyze his motives. Despite its seemingly firm conclusions, the report failed to silence conspiracy theories surrounding the event, and in 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in a preliminary report that Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy” that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime. The committee’s findings, as with the findings of the Warren Commission, continue to be widely disputed.
1969 – President Nguyen Van Thieu says his government entertains no “ambition or pretense” to take over all fighting by the end of 1970, but given proper support South Vietnamese troops could replace the “bulk” of U.S. troops that year. Thieu said his agreement on any further U.S. troops withdrawals would hinge on whether his requests for equipment and funds for ARVN forces were granted. These comments were in response to President Nixon’s continued emphasis on “Vietnamizing” the war so that U.S. forces could be withdrawn.
1977 – A U.S. Navy McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II crashes into a residential neighborhood in Yokohama, Japan, killing two children on the ground and injuring seven other people.
1979 – Congress gave final approval to forming the Department of Education, the 13th Cabinet agency in U.S. history.
1983 – Richard Stallman announces the GNU project to develop a free Unix-like operating system.
1990 – The deposed emir of Kuwait delivered an emotional address to the UN General Assembly in which he denounced the “rape, destruction and terror” inflicted upon his country by Iraq.
1991 – President Bush announced in a nationally broadcast address that he was eliminating all U.S. battlefield nuclear weapons, and called on the Soviet Union to match the gesture.
1996 – US Defense Sec. William Perry said the 3 Baltic nations would not be among the first new NATO members drawn from Eastern Europe.
1996 – The Taliban, with military support by Pakistan and financial support from Saudi Arabia, seized Kabul and founded the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. They imposed their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam in areas under their control, issuing edicts forbidding women to work outside the home, attend school, or to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative.
1997 – The space shuttle Atlantis blasted off, docking hours later with the problem-plagued Russian Mir station to drop off American David Wolf and pick up Michael Foale.
1997 – Communications are suddenly lost with the Mars Pathfinder space probe.
2001 – Pres. Bush announced enhanced airport security measures that included national guard soldiers at checkpoints and armed air marshals on planes as a first step toward federal control of airline security.
2001 – US and British warplanes struck 2 artillery sites in Iraq’s southern no-fly zone.
2001 – Def. Sec. Donald Rumsfeld displayed the new Medal for the Defense of Freedom to be awarded to all Defense Dept. civilian employees killed or wounded in the sep 11 terrorist attacks.
2001 – In Afghanistan the Taliban said it had delivered an official request for Osama bin Laden to leave the country.
2001 – In Jakarta, Indonesia, protesters burned US flags outside the US Embassy and threatened to kill Americans.
2002 – President Bush said the UN should have a chance to force Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction before the US acted on its own against Iraq, but told a Republican fund-raising event in Denver that action had to come quickly.
2002 – U.S. and British jets bomb two Iraqi surface-to-air missile sites south of Baghdad after Iraqi forces fire on allied aircraft. The U.S. Defence Department said the planes hit targets near Qalat Sikur, about 200km south-east of Baghdad.
2003 – President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Iran and North Korea to abandon suspected nuclear weapons programs, but disagreed over how to deal with both countries; Putin also declined at the end of a two-day summit at Camp David to pledge any postwar help for Iraq.
2004 – U.S. jets pounded suspected Shiite militant positions in the Baghdad slum of Sadr City.
2004 – Lebanon said Ismail Katib, a local al Qaeda operative captured a week earlier, died “of a heart attack” while in police custody.
2006 – Legislation passes in the U.S. House and Senate giving President Bush authority to detain, interrogate and try terrorism detainees before military commissions.
2007 – NASA launches the Dawn probe. Dawn is a space probe to study two of the most massive objects of the asteroid belt – the protoplanet Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres. Currently en route to Ceres, it is expected to arrive in April 2015. Dawn was the first spacecraft to visit Vesta, entering orbit on July 16, 2011, and successfully completing its fourteen month survey mission of Vesta in late 2012. Should its entire mission succeed, it will also be the first spacecraft to visit Ceres and to orbit two separate extraterrestrial bodies.
2009 – General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, formally requests more troops for the War in Afghanistan.
2011 – Fugitive hijacker George Wright is caught in Portugal, thirty-nine years after he and members of the Black Liberation Army took control of Delta Air Lines Flight 841 and flew it to Algeria.
2013 – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during P5+1 and Iran talks, the highest-level direct contact between the United States and Iran in six years.
2013 – President Barack Obama reveals he talked with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, marking the first time leaders from the U.S. and Iran have directly communicated since the Iranian revolution.
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