This Day in U.S. Military History…… September 7

7 September
1630 – The Massachusetts town of Trimontaine (Shawmut), was renamed Boston, and became the state capital. It was named after a town of the same name in Lincolnshire, England.
1776 – During the Revolutionary War, the American submersible craft Turtle attempts to attach a time bomb to the hull of British Admiral Richard Howe’s flagship Eagle in New York Harbor. It was the first use of a submarine in warfare. Submarines were first built by Dutch inventor Cornelius van Drebel in the early 17th century, but it was 150 years later before they were first used in naval combat. David Bushnell, an American inventor, began building underwater mines while a student at Yale University. Deciding that a submarine would be the best means of delivering his mines in warfare, he built an eight-foot-long wooden submersible that was christened the Turtle for its shape. Large enough to accommodate one operator, the submarine was entirely hand-powered. Lead ballast kept the craft balanced. Donated to the Patriot cause after the outbreak of war with Britain in 1775, Ezra Lee piloted the craft unnoticed out to the 64-gun HMS Eagle in New York Harbor on September 7, 1776. As Lee worked to anchor a time bomb to the hull, he could see British seamen on the deck above, but they failed to notice the strange craft below the surface. Lee had almost secured the bomb when his boring tools failed to penetrate a layer of iron sheathing. He retreated, and the bomb exploded nearby, causing no harm to either the Eagle or the Turtle. During the next week, the Turtle made several more attempts to sink British ships on the Hudson River, but each time it failed, owing to the operator’s lack of skill. Only Bushnell was capable of executing the submarine’s complicated functions, but because of his physical frailty he was unable to pilot the Turtle in any of its combat missions. During the Battle of Fort Lee, the Turtle was lost when the American sloop transporting it was sunk by the British. Despite the failures of the Turtle, General George Washington gave Bushnell a commission as an army engineer, and the drifting mines he constructed destroyed the British frigate Cereberus and wreaked havoc against other British ships. After the war, he became commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stationed at West Point.
1778 – Shawnee Indians attacked and laid siege to Boonesborough, Kentucky.
1813 – The earliest known printed reference to the United States by the nickname “Uncle Sam” occurred in the Troy Post.
1814 – USS Wasp captures HMS Avon.
1825 – The Marquis de Lafayette, the French hero of the American Revolution, bade farewell to President John Quincy Adams at the White House.
1863 – Army transports and naval warships of the joint amphibious expedition arrived at Sabine Pass and anchored off the bar. Union plans called for the seizure of Sabine Pass as a base for strategic operations against western Louisiana and eastern and central Texas. Through a series of mishaps, as Major General Franklin reported, “the attack, which was intended to be a surprise, became an open one, the enemy having had two nights’ warning that a fleet was off the harbor, and during Monday [7 September] a full view of most of the vessels comprising it . . . .”
1864 – In preparation for his march to the sea, Union General William T. Sherman orders residents of Atlanta, Georgia, to evacuate the city. Even though Sherman had just successfully captured Atlanta with minimal losses, he was worried about his supply lines, which stretched all the way to Louisville, Kentucky. With Confederate cavalry leader Nathan Bedford Forrest on the loose, Sherman expected to have a difficult time maintaining an open line of communication and reasoned that he could not stay in Atlanta for long. The number of troops committed to guarding the railroad and telegraph lines was almost as many as he had with him in Atlanta. For Sherman, the defeated residents of Atlanta could only hinder him in his preparations since they represented mouths to feed in addition to his own army. Furthermore, he did not want to bear responsibility for women and children in the midst of his army. Eviction of the residents was Sherman’s most logical solution. He wrote, “I have deemed it to the interest of the United States that the citizens now residing in Atlanta should remove, those who prefer it to go South, and the rest North.” The mayor of Atlanta, James Calhoun, protested, but Sherman curtly replied, “War is cruelty and you cannot refine it.” The general provided transportation south of the city, where the refugees would be let loose near the defeated army of Confederate General John Bell Hood. Between September 11 and 16 some 446 families, about 1,600 people, left their homes and possessions. One young Atlanta woman, Mary Gay, lamented bitterly that her fellow citizens “were dumped out upon the cold ground without shelter and without any of the comforts of home.” They had only the “cold charity of the world.” Sherman’s order surely didn’t win him any fans among the Southerners, but he was only starting to build his infamous reputation with the Confederates. In November, he embarked on his march to the sea, during which his army destroyed nearly everything that lay in its path.
1864 – Union General Phil Sheridan’s troops skirmished with the Confederates under Jubal Early outside Winchester, Virginia.
1864 – USS Wachusett captures commerce raider, CSS Florida at Bahia, Brazil.
1867 – President Andrew Johnson extended amnesty to all but a few of the leaders of the Confederacy.
1876 – In Northfield, Minnesota, Jesse James and the James–Younger Gang attempt to rob the town’s bank but are driven off by armed citizens.
1901 – The Peace of Peking (Beijing) ended the Boxer Rebellion in China.
1903 – Marines from the USS Brooklyn landed at Beirut to protect American lives.
1927 – American television pioneer Philo T. Farnsworth, 21, succeeded in transmitting an image through purely electronic means by using a device called an image dissector. When Philo T. Farnsworth was 13, he envisioned a contraption that would receive an image transmitted from a remote location–the television. Farnsworth submitted a patent in January 1927, when he was 19, and began building and testing his invention that summer. He used an “image dissector” (the first television camera tube) to convert the image into a current, and an “image oscillite” (picture tube) to receive it. On this day his tests bore fruit. When the simple image of a straight line was placed between the image dissector and a carbon arc lamp, it showed up clearly on the receiver in another room. The New York World’s Fair showcased the television in April 1939, and soon afterward, the first televisions went on sale to the public.
1940 – Nazi Germany began its initial blitz on London during the World War II Battle of Britain. The German Luftwaffe blitzed London for the 1st of 57 consecutive nights. Nazi Germany launched the aerial bombing of London that Adolf Hitler believed would soften Britain for an invasion. The invasion, “Operation Sea Lion,” never materialized. The Luftwaffe lost 41 bombers over England. The blitz only strengthened Britain’s resistance. The defense of London was for the Royal Air Force what Churchill called “their finest hour.”
1942 – First air evacuation of casualties to hospital ships off shore occurs at Guadalcanal.
1942 – First flight of the Consolidated B-32 Dominator. The B-32 (Consolidated Model 34) was a heavy bomber made for United States Army Air Forces during World War II, and had the distinction of being the last Allied aircraft to be engaged in combat during World War II. It was developed in parallel with the Boeing B-29 Superfortress as a fallback design should the Superfortress prove unsuccessful. It only reached units in the Pacific during mid-1945, and subsequently only saw limited combat operations against Japanese targets before the end of the war. Most of the extant orders of the B-32 were cancelled shortly thereafter and only 118 B-32s of all types were built.
1942 – A force of Marine Corps Raiders, 600 in strength, attack the Japanese base at Taivu. The raid succeeds in damaging the base and disrupting the Japanese preparation for an attack on the main American position at Guadalcanal.
1944 – Elements of US 1st Army (part of US 12th Army Group) are approaching Liege.
1945 – Japanese forces on Wake Island, which they had held since December of 1941, surrender to U.S. Marines.
1950 – Slightly more than two months after the United Nations approved a U.S. resolution calling for the use of force to repel the communist North Korean invasion of South Korea, the Security Council rejects a Soviet resolution that would condemn the American bombing of North Korea. The Security Council action was another victory for the United States in securing U.N. support for the war in Korea. In June 1950, armed forces from communist North Korea attacked South Korea. Days after the invasion, the United States secured approval in the U.N.’s Security Council for a resolution calling for the use of force to repel the communists. The Soviet Union could have vetoed the resolution, but its representatives were boycotting the Security Council because of the U.N. decision not to seat the communist government of the People’s Republic of China. Just a few days after the Security Council resolution was passed, President Harry S. Truman ordered U.S. military forces into South Korea. The introduction of the U.S. forces turned the tide of the war, and by September 1950, the North Korean forces were in retreat and U.S. planes were bombing military targets inside North Korea. On September 7, the Soviet representative on the Security Council proposed a resolution condemning the United States for its “barbarous” bombing of North Korea. Referring to U.S. policies in Korea as “Hitlerian,” the Russian representative called the bombings “inhuman.” The U.S. representative responded by charging the North Koreans with numerous war crimes, including murdering prisoners of war. He also denied that the bombings were “inhuman,” insisting that the United States was using every effort to warn North Korean civilians to stay away from the military targets being hit. He concluded by stating, “The moral is plain: Those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind. Moral guilt rests heavily upon the aggressors.” By a vote of 9 to 1, the Security Council defeated the Soviet resolution, with only the Russian representative voting to support it. The Security Council defeat of the Russian resolution was another victory for the United States in securing U.N. support for the war effort in Korea. This war marked the first time the United Nations had ever approved the use of force, and U.S. officials were determined to maintain U.N. support for what was, in effect, a U.S. military effort. America supplied the vast majority of the ground, air, and sea forces that responded to the Security Council’s resolution calling for the use of force in Korea. The Soviets, sensing the grave consequences of their absence from the vote on that resolution, now desperately tried to attack U.S. actions in Korea. As they discovered with the crushing defeat of their resolution condemning the U.S. bombings, it was too late.
1950 – The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade withdrew from combat in the Naktong Perimeter and reassembled at Pusan to embark for the Inchon invasion.
1951 – The U.S. destroyer Barton struck a mine killing five sailors and wounding seven in the vicinity of Wonsan Harbor.
1951 – The US signs an agreement with Saigon for direct aid to South Vietnam. American presence in Saigon is increased as civilian government employees join the military already there. general Jean de Lattre de Tassigny finds many in Washington who agree that France is preventing a ‘red tide’ from engulfing South Vietnam, the ‘barrier in Southeast Asia’ against Communism.
1965 – U.S. Marines and South Vietnamese forces launch Operation Pirahna on the Batangan Peninsula, 23 miles south of the Marine base at Chu Lai. This was a follow-up to Operation Starlight, which had been conducted in August. During the course of the operation, the Allied forces stormed a stronghold of the Viet Cong 1st Regiment, claiming 200 enemy dead after intense fighting.
1967 – U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara announces plans to build an electronic anti-infiltration barrier to block communist flow of arms and troops into South Vietnam from the north at the eastern end of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The “McNamra Line,” as it became known, would employ state-of-the-art, high-tech listening devices to alert U.S. forces when North Vietnamese troops and supplies were moving south so that air and artillery strikes could be brought to bear on them. It was estimated that the cost of completing and maintaining the project would be more than $800 million per year. Construction on the barrier line, initially code named “Practice Nine” and later changed to “Dye Marker,” began almost at once. But in the end, the concept proved impractical as the North Vietnamese just shifted their infiltration routes to other areas.
1977 – In Washington, President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian dictator Omar Torrijos sign a treaty agreeing to transfer control of the Panama Canal from the United States to Panama at the end of the 20th century. The Panama Canal Treaty also authorized the immediate abolishment of the Canal Zone, a 10-mile-wide, 40-mile-long U.S.-controlled area that bisected the Republic of Panama. Many in Congress opposed giving up control of the Panama Canal–an enduring symbol of U.S. power and technological prowess–but America’s colonial-type administration of the strategic waterway had long irritated Panamanians and other Latin Americans. The rush of settlers to California and Oregon in the mid 19th century was the initial impetus of the U.S. desire to build an artificial waterway across Central America. In 1855, the United States completed a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama (then part of Colombia), prompting various parties to propose canal-building plans. Ultimately, Colombia awarded the rights to build the canal to Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French entrepreneur who had completed the Suez Canal in 1869. Construction on a sea-level canal began in 1881, but inadequate planning, disease among the workers, and financial problems drove Lesseps’ company into bankruptcy in 1889. Three years later, Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla, a former chief engineer of the canal works and a French citizen, acquired the assets of the defunct French company. By the turn of the century, sole possession of the proposed canal became a military and economic imperative to the United States, which had acquired an overseas empire at the end of the Spanish-American War and sought the ability to move warships and commerce quickly between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In 1902, the U.S. Congress authorized purchase of the French canal company (pending a treaty with Colombia) and allocated funding for the canal’s construction. In 1903, the Hay-Herran Treaty was signed with Columbia, granting the United States use of the territory in exchange for financial compensation. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty, but the Colombian Senate, fearing a loss of sovereignty, refused. In response, President Theodore Roosevelt gave tacit approval to a Panamanian independence movement, which was engineered in large part by Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla and his canal company. On November 3, 1903, a faction of Panamanians issued a declaration of independence from Colombia. The U.S.-administered railroad removed its trains from the northern terminus of Colon, thus stranding Colombian troops sent to crush the rebellion. Other Colombian forces were discouraged from marching on Panama by the arrival of the U.S. warship Nashville. On November 6, the United States recognized the Republic of Panama, and on November 18 the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed with Panama, granting the United States exclusive and permanent possession of the Panama Canal Zone. In exchange, Panama received $10 million and an annuity of $250,000 beginning nine years later. The treaty was negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Hay and Bunau-Varilla, who had been given plenipotentiary powers to negotiate on behalf of Panama. Almost immediately, the treaty was condemned by many Panamanians as an infringement on their country’s new national sovereignty. In 1906, American engineers decided on the construction of a lock canal, and the next three years were spent developing construction facilities and eradicating tropical diseases in the area. In 1909, construction proper began. In one of the largest construction projects of all time, U.S. engineers moved nearly 240 million cubic yards of earth and spent close to $400 million in constructing the 40-mile-long canal (or 51 miles long, if the deepened seabed on both ends of the canal is taken into account). On August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal was inaugurated with the passage of the U.S. vessel Ancon, a cargo and passenger ship. During the next seven decades, the United States made a series of concessions to Panama, including regular increases in annual payments, the building of a $20 million bridge across the canal, and equal pay and working conditions for Panamanian and U.S. workers in the Canal Zone. The basic provisions of the 1903 treaty, specifically the right of the United States to control and operate the canal, remained unchanged until the late 1970s. In the 1960s, Panamanians repeatedly rioted in the Canal Zone over the refusal of U.S. authorities to fly the Panamanian flag and other nationalist issues. After U.S. troops crushed one such riot in 1964, Panama temporarily broke off diplomatic relations with the United States. After years of negotiations for a new Panama Canal treaty, agreement was reached between the United States and Panama in 1977. Signed on September 7, 1977, the treaty recognized Panama as the territorial sovereign in the Canal Zone but gave the United States the right to continue operating the canal until December 31, 1999. Despite considerable opposition in the U.S. Senate, the treaty was approved by a one-vote margin in September 1978. It went into effect in October 1979, and the canal came under the control of the Panama Canal Commission, an agency of five Americans and four Panamanians. On September 7, 1977, President Carter had also signed the Neutrality Treaty with Torrijos, which guaranteed the permanent neutrality of the canal and gave the United States the right to use military force, if necessary, to keep the canal open. This treaty was used as rationale for the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, which the saw the overthrow of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who had threatened to prematurely seize control of the canal after being indicted in the United States on drug charges. Democratic rule was restored in Panama in the 1990s, and at noon on December 31, 1999, the Panama Canal was peacefully turned over to Panama. In order to avoid conflict with end-of-the-millennium celebrations, formal ceremonies marking the event were held on December 14. Former president Jimmy Carter represented the United States at the ceremony. After exchanging diplomatic notes with Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, Carter simply told her, “It’s yours.”
1986 – Off the Coast of Florida — An F-106 “Delta Dart” of the 125th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron encounters a Soviet Air Force Tu-95 “Bear” bomber flying parallel to the twelve-mile limit of U.S. airspace as it makes its way from Russia to Cuba. These are routine flights which are just as routinely met by Air Guard fighters who act as ‘escorts’ to be sure the bombers pose no threat to the U.S. homeland. Since 1953 Air Guard fighter-interceptor units took on an air defense mission, challenging unidentified aircraft flying into American airspace. Air Guard pilots and aircraft stood alert 24 hours a day, every day. This mission grew each year and by 1965 the 22 interceptor squadrons flew 30,000 hours and completed 38,000 alert sorties. By 1988 the Air Guard provided 86% of the Air Force units assigned to national airspace security. In the post 9/11 environment the Air Guard has continued and expanded its role in homeland defense by flying overhead cover for major cities in times of heightened alert as well as investigating all suspicious air traffic heading toward or across the country.
1990 – The 13th MEU embarked and arrived in the Gulf of Oman, joining U.N. forces.
1991 – Iraq blocks UNSCOM’s use of helicopters to conduct inspections.
1993 – Two Rangers are WIA during a two-hour assault against an Aidid compound.
1994 – U.S. Marines began training on a Puerto Rican island amid talk in Washington of a U.S.-led intervention in Haiti.
1995 – The space shuttle “Endeavour” thundered into orbit with five astronauts on a mission to release and recapture a pair of science satellites.
1997 – The US F-22 Raptor Advanced Tactical Fighter took its first flight from Dobbins Air Reserve Base north of Atlanta, Ga. The plane was estimated to cost $100 million.
1999 – In NY twelve Puerto Rican prisoners agreed to accept Pres. Clinton’s offer of conditional amnesty. The House of Rep. Later condemned the offer in a symbolic vote of 311-41.
1999 – In Vietnam Madeleine Albright commissioned the new US consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.
2001 – The US State Dept. issued a memo that warned Americans “may be the target of a terrorist threat.”
2002 – Pres. Bush met with British PM Tony Blair at Camp David, Md., to work out a strategy for taking action against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. They said the world had to act against Saddam Hussein, arguing that the Iraqi leader had defied the United Nations and reneged on promises to destroy weapons of mass destruction.
2002 – U.S. Navy fighter jets dropped dummy bombs and inert missiles on Vieques in military exercises that have divided this outlying Puerto Rican island for years.
2003 – The top American commander in Afghanistan said Taliban fighters, paid and trained by al-Qaida, were pouring into Afghanistan from Pakistan.
2004 – US forces battled insurgents loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the Baghdad slum of Sadr City, in clashes that killed 34 people, including one American soldier. The US death toll in Iraq topped 1,000 since military operation began in March 2003. In private estimates Iraqi deaths ranged from 10,000 to 30,000 killed across the nation.
2004 – An Italian aid organization said that two Italian women were kidnapped from its office in Baghdad.
2005 – American hostage Roy Hallums is rescued in Iraq. He was kidnapped in November 2004 and later showed up on the video released by militants.
2007 – United States District Court judge Royce Lamberth orders Iran to pay $2.6 billion to victims and families in the 1983 Hezbollah bombing of a United States Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon that claimed 241 American lives.
2010 – United States Army General David Petraeus, the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, condemns plans by a small Florida church to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks as inflammatory.
2012 – U.S. Secretary of State Clinton notifies Congress of her intent to include the Haqqani network on the government’s terror list. An attaché at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington dismisses the decision as an “internal matter” of the United States and reaffirms Pakistan’s commitment to “combating extremism and terrorism.” Haqqani senior commanders say the decision will not help in bringing peace to Afghanistan.
2014 – The United States launches new airstrikes on ISIS in western Iraq, in an effort to protect the Haditha Dam.

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