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THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
This page displays the day to day history events of America and the Military.

 

August 23, 1784 - Eastern Tennessee settlers declared their area an independent state and named it Franklin; a year later the Continental Congress rejected it.

August 23, 1819 - Oliver Hazard Perry, naval hero, died on his 34th birthday.

August 23, 1820 - The Revenue Cutter Louisiana captured four pirate vessels.

August 23, 1861 - Allen Pinkerton, head of the new secret service agency of the Federal government, places Confederate spy Rose O'Neal Greenhow under house arrest in Washington, D.C. Greenhow was a wealthy widow living in Washington at the outbreak of the war. She was well connected in the capital and was especially close with Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson. The Maryland native was openly committed to the Southern cause, and she soon formed a substantial spy network. Greenhow's operation quickly paid dividends for the Confederacy. One of her operatives provided key information to Confederate General Pierre G. T. Beauregard concerning the deployment of Union General Irwin McDowell's troops before the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. Beauregard later testified that this dispatch, along with further information provided by Greenhow herself, was instrumental in Beauregard's decision to request additional troops. The move led to a decisive victory by the Rebels. It did not take the Federals long to track down the leaks in Washington. Pinkerton placed Greenhow under house arrest, and he soon confined other suspected women in her home. However, Greenhow was undeterred. She was allowed visitors, including Senator Wilson, and was able to continue funneling information to the Confederates. Frustrated, Pinkerton finally confined Greenhow and her daughter to the Old Capitol Prison for five months in early 1862. In June 1862, she and her daughter, "Little Rose," were released and exiled to the South. Greenhow traveled to England and France to drum up support for the Southern cause, and she penned her memoirs while abroad. She returned to the Confederacy in September 1864, but a Yankee war vessel ran her ship aground in North Carolina. Weighted down by a substantial amount of gold, Greenhow's lifeboat overturned and she drowned.

August 23, 1863 - A ruthless band of guerillas attacks the town of Lawrence, Kansas, killing every man and boy in sight. Led by William Quantrill and William "Bloody Bill" Anderson, the guerillas were said to have carried out the brutal attack on behalf of the Confederacy. Included in their group was Jesse James' brother Frank and Cole Younger, who would also play a large role in the James gang later on. Bloody Bill Anderson got his name for his love of shooting unarmed and defenseless people. Reportedly, he carried as many as eight handguns, in addition to a saber and a hatchet. His horse was also outfitted with several rifles and backup pistols. Although he claimed to have political motives for his terrorism, Anderson more likely used the Civil War as an opportunity to kill without repercussion. Jesse James, only 17 at the time, teamed up with Bloody Bill after he split from Quantrill's band of killers. On September 24, 1864, their small splinter group terrorized and destroyed most of the town of Centralia, Missouri. They also ambushed a small troop of Union soldiers whose train happened to stop at Centralia. Twenty-five Northern soldiers were stripped and lined up while Anderson and Arch Clement proceeded to shoot each of them down in cold blood, sparing only the sergeant. A month later, Anderson paid for his crimes: He was caught by a full contingent of Union army troops in Missouri and killed in the ensuing battle. Jesse James was never brought to justice by the North for his war crimes and went on to become the 19th century's most infamous criminal.

August 23, 1863 - Confederate boat expedition under Lieutenant Wood, CSN, captured U.S.S. Reliance, Acting Ensign Henry Walter, and U.S.S Satellite, Acting Master Robinson, off Windmill Point, on the Rappahannock River. Wood had departed Richmond 11 days before with some 80 Confederates and 4 boats placed on wheels. These were launched on the 16th, 2 miles from the mouth of the Piankatank River and rowed into the bay. Concealing themselves by day and venturing forth by night, the Confederates sought for a week to find Union ships in an exposed position. Shortly after 1 o'clock in the morning, 23 August, Reliance and Satellite were found at anchor "so close to each other," Wood reported, "that it was necessary to board both at the same time." The two ships were quickly captured and taken up the Rappahannock to Urbanna. A "daring and brilliantly executed" plan, the capture of the two steamers shocked the North. Only a limited supply of coal on board the prizes and poor weather prevented Wood from following up his initial advantage more extensively.

August 23, 1863 - As operations against the Charleston defenses continued, ironclads under Rear Admiral Dahlgren, including U.S.S. Weehawken, Montauk, Nahant, Passaic, and Patapsco, opened on Fort Sumter shortly: after 3 a.m. Confederate batteries at Fort Moultrie replied, and three of the monitors turned their attention to that quarter as fog set in, obscuring the view of both sides. "Finding Sumter pretty well used up," Dahlgren wrote, "I concluded to haul off [at daybreak], for the men had been at work two days and two nights and were exhausted." Much of the firing had been within a range of 1,000 yards. Later that morning U.S.S. New Ironsides, Captain Rowan, steamed abreast of and engaged Fort Wagner for an hour. In the exchange New Ironsides lost a dinghy which was cut away by a shot from a Confederate X-inch gun.

August 23, 1864 - Having doggedly withstood naval bombardment for more than two weeks, and invested by Union soldiers ashore, Brigadier General Page surrendered Fort Morgan, the last Confederate bastion at Mobile Bay. "My guns and powder had all been destroyed, my means of defense gone, the citadel, nearly the entire quartermaster stores, and a portion of the commissariat burned by the enemy's shells," he reported. "It was evident the fort could hold out but a few hours longer under a renewed bombardment. The only question was: Hold it for this time, gain the eclat, and sustain the loss of life from the falling of the walls, or save life and capitulate?"

August 23, 1864 - Acting Master's Mate Woodman made his second dangerous reconnaissance up the Roanoke River, North Carolina, to gather intelligence on C.S.S. Albemarle and the defenses of Plymouth. Woodman reported: "At 10 a.m. I arrived on the Roanoke River, opposite Plymouth. The ram Albemarle was lying alongside of the wharf at Plymouth, protected with timbers, extending com-pletely around her . . . ." Woodman, who would make yet another reconnaissance mission, gained much vital information upon which Lieutenant Cushing planned the expedition which ended Albemarle's career.

August 23, 1864 - The Geneva Convention of 1864 for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick of Armies in the Field is adopted by 12 nations meeting in Geneva. The agreement, advocated by Swiss humanitarian Jean-Henri Dunant, called for nonpartisan care to the sick and wounded in times of war and provided for the neutrality of medical personnel. It also proposed the use of an international emblem to mark medical personnel and supplies. In honor of Dunant's nationality, a red cross on a white background--the Swiss flag in reverse--was chosen. In 1901, Dunant was awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize. In 1881, American humanitarians Clara Barton and Adolphus Solomons founded the American National Red Cross, an organization designed to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and natural disasters in congruence with the International Red Cross.

August 23, 1883 - Jonathan Wainwright, U.S. General, who fought against the Japanese on Corregidor in the Philippines and was forced to surrender, was born.

August 23, 1889 - The 1st ship-to-shore wireless message was received in US in SF.

August 23, 1927 - Despite worldwide demonstrations in support of their innocence, Italian-born anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed for murder. On April 15, 1920, a paymaster for a shoe company in South Braintree, Massachusetts, was shot and killed along with his guard. The murderers, who were described as two Italian men, escaped with more than $15,000. After going to a garage to claim a car that police said was connected with the crime, Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested and charged with the crime. Although both men carried guns and made false statements upon their arrest, neither had a previous criminal record. On July 14, 1921, they were convicted and sentenced to die. Anti-radical sentiment was running high in America at the time, and the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti was regarded by many as unlawfully sensational. Authorities had failed to come up with any evidence of the stolen money, and much of the other evidence against them was later discredited. During the next few years, sporadic protests were held in Massachusetts and around the world calling for their release, especially after Celestino Madeiros, then under a sentence for murder, confessed in 1925 that he had participated in the crime with the Joe Morelli gang. The state Supreme Court refused to upset the verdict, and Massachusetts Governor Alvan T. Fuller denied the men clemency. In the days leading up to the execution, protests were held in cities around the world, and bombs were set off in New York City and Philadelphia. On August 22, Sacco and Vanzetti were electrocuted. In 1961, a test of Sacco's gun using modern forensic techniques apparently proved it was his gun that killed the guard, though little evidence has been found to substantiate Vanzetti's guilt. Nevertheless, in 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation vindicating Sacco and Vanzetti, stating that they had been treated unjustly and that no stigma should be associated with their names.

August 23, 1939 - Lloyd's of London advanced war-risk rates as the Nazis threatened to invade Poland and Europe braced itself for war. The Dow responded to the news with a 3.25 drop to close the day at 131.82.

August 23, 1939 - Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact, stunning the world, given their diametrically opposed ideologies. But the dictators were, despite appearances, both playing to their own political needs. After Nazi Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia, Britain had to decide to what extent it would intervene should Hitler continue German expansion. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, at first indifferent to Hitler's capture of the Sudetenland, the German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia, suddenly snapped to life when Poland became threatened. He made it plain that Britain would be obliged to come to the aid of Poland in the event of German invasion. But he wanted, and needed, an ally. The only power large enough to stop Hitler, and with a vested interest in doing so, was the Soviet Union. But Stalin was cool to Britain after its effort to create a political alliance with Britain and France against Germany had been rebuffed a year earlier. Plus, Poland's leaders were less than thrilled with the prospect of Russia becoming its guardian; to them, it was simply occupation by another monstrous regime. Hitler believed that Britain would never take him on alone, so he decided to swallow his fear and loathing of communism and cozy up to the Soviet dictator, thereby pulling the rug out from the British initiative. Both sides were extremely suspicious of the other, trying to discern ulterior motives. But Hitler was in a hurry; he knew if he was to invade Poland it had to be done quickly, before the West could create a unified front. Agreeing basically to carve up parts of Eastern Europe-and leave each other alone in the process-Hitler's foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, flew to Moscow and signed the non-aggression pact with his Soviet counterpart, V.M. Molotov (which is why the pact is often referred to as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact). Supporters of bolshevism around the world had their heretofore romantic view of "international socialism" ruined; they were outraged that Stalin would enter into any kind of league with the fascist dictator. But once Poland was German-occupied territory, the alliance would not last for long.

August 23, 1942 - The 1st US flights landed on Guadalcanal.

August 23, 1942 - In an attempt to cover the ferrying of supplies to their forces at Guadalcanal, both the Japanese and the American send major warships.

August 23, 1943 - American destroyers bombard Finschafen in support of air operations against Wewak.

August 23, 1944 - US 1st Army (part of US 12th Army Group) also drives forward to the Seine. The US 19th Corps captures Evreux. French forces are employed as the spearhead of the US 5th Corps advance toward Paris. On the Atlantic coast, elements of the US 3rd Army link up with French resistance members near Bordeaux.

August 23, 1944 - Elements of the French 2nd Corps (part of US 7th Army) reach the outskirts of Marseilles and Toulon.

August 23, 1944 - The last Japanese resistance on the island of Numfoor is overcome and most of the American force is redeployed.

August 23, 1945 - A US B-24 crashed into a school in Freckelton, England, and 76 were killed.

August 23, 1945 - British, American and French troops enter Vienna.

August 23, 1945 - Clarence V. Bertucci is granted a discharge from the Army and sent to a mental institution for further tests and evaluation. He is responsible for the massacre of German POWs at Camp Salina, Utah on July 8th.

August 23, 1945 - General MacArthur orders the release of some 5000 Filipinos interned for security reasons.

August 23, 1950 - Up to 77,000 members of the U.S. Army Organized Reserve Corps were called involuntarily to active duty to fight the Korean War.

August 23, 1951 - The Navy recommissioned the battleship USS Iowa under the command of Captain William R. Smedberg, III.

August 23, 1958 - In Taiwan Straits Crisis, Units of 7th Fleet move into Taiwan area to support Taiwan against Chinese Communists. This massive concentration of the Pacific Fleet in Quemoy-Matsu area prevents invasion of islands by China. Marines from Okinawa prepare to reinforce Chinese Nationalists at Taiwan.

August 23, 1963 - The first satellite communications ship, USNS Kingsport (T-AG-164) in Lagos, Nigeria, connected President John F. Kennedy with Nigerian Prime Minister Balewa who was aboard for the first satellite (Syncom II) relayed telephone conversation between heads of state.

August 23, 1966 - The American cargo ship Baton Rouge Victory strikes a mine laid by the Viet Cong in the Long Tao River, 22 miles south of Saigon. The half-submerged ship blocked the route from the South Vietnamese capital to the sea. Seven crewmen were killed.

August 23, 1968 - Communist forces launch rocket and mortar attacks on numerous cities, provincial capitals, and military installations. The heaviest shelling was on the U.S. airfield at Da Nang, the cities of Hue and Quang Tri. North Vietnamese forces numbering between 1200 and 1500 troops attacked the U.S. Special Forces camp at Duc Lap, 130 miles northeast of Saigon near the Cambodian border. The camp fell but was retaken by an allied relief column led by U.S. Special Forces on August 25. A reported 643 North Vietnamese troops were killed in the battle.

August 23, 1973 - Secretary of Defense Melvin R Laird announces the adoption of the “Total Force Policy” as the new doctrine of American military preparedness. The war in Vietnam has just ended. One of the major conclusions drawn from that experience was that the American people had not supported the war because it was fought without a stated declaration and the Johnson Administration failed to mobilize and use large numbers of Reserve Component (RC) forces, including the National Guard. By conscripting (drafting) individual men for service there is little notice by the larger community. However, when an RC unit is mobilized, often taking dozens to hundreds of personnel at one time, attracting big local headlines and impacting whole communities in numerous ways. Only by having a supportive populous, one backing the effort, can American military objectives be met. By restructuring missions, training and equipment to more fully integrate RC units in with their active duty counterparts, it was hoped that the U.S. could never commit itself to another war without the debate sure to come by mobilizing the Guard and Reserves. This proved true first in Operations DESERT SHIELD/STORM in 1990-1991 and again in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM starting in 2001. So many necessary elements of the American military now belong to the RC that active duty forces can not fight a major conflict with RC mobilization. This is just what the planners of Total Force envisioned.

August 23, 1979 - The keel of the first of the new 270-foot class medium endurance cutters, the CGC Bear, was laid.

August 23, 1984 - The last Marines to serve peace-keeping duty in Lebanon arrived home. The 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) arrived off the coast of Lebanon on 9 April to relieve Marines of the 22d MAU who were guarding the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. The 24th MAU left Beirut on 31 July, marking the last presence of U.S. combat troops in Beirut since Marines entered almost two years earlier.

August 23, 1989 - The markets took a nosedive and the Dow lost a hefty 76.73 points just a month after it nearly broke the 3,000 point barrier. The culprit for the decline? Wall Street's increasing fears about the Persian Gulf crisis, which began in early August when the Iraqi army rolled into the oil-rich territory of its neighbor, Kuwait. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein openly declared his intention of annexing Kuwait, prompting President George Bush to deride the invasion as an act of "naked aggression." As Bush and Hussein faced off, oil prices marched upward, in turn triggering the sell-off on Wall Street. Indeed, fears of war and escalating prices were written all over the markets: during the week of the 23rd, the Dow lost 6 percent of its total value.

August 23, 1990 - US began to call up of 46,000 reservists to the Persian Gulf.

August 23, 1990 - East and West Germany announced that they would unite Oct 3.

August 23, 1990 - Iraqi state television showed President Saddam Hussein meeting with a group of about 20 Western detainees, telling the group—whom he described as "guests"—that they were being held "to prevent the scourge of war."

August 23, 1991 - In the wake of a failed coup by hard-liners in the Soviet Union, President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin acted to strip the Communist Party of its power and take control of the army and the KGB.

August 23, 1994 - A new Coast Guard record for people rescued was set on 23 August 1994 when 3,253 Cubans were rescued from dangerously overloaded craft during Operation Able Vigil.

August 23, 1999 - US and British warplanes attacked targets in northern Iraq after being fired upon by an Iraqi military radar station.

August 23, 1999 - It was reported that the US was training a 950-man Colombian army counter narcotics battalion to regain control of guerrilla controlled territory.

August 23, 2000 - Boeing made the first successful launch of its Delta III rocket.

August 23, 2001 - Brian Regan (38), retired US Air Force master sergeant and cryptanalyst, was arrested by the FBI at Dulles Int’l. Airport on charges of spying. In 2002 Regan was accused of trying to spy for Iraq, Libya and China.

August 23, 2001 - NATO soldiers streamed into Macedonia as part of a mission to help end 6 months of ethnic hostilities by collecting and destroying rebel weapons.

August 23, 2002 - U.S. warplanes bombed an air defense site in northern Iraq after being targeted by an Iraqi missile guidance radar system.

August 23, 2002 - The United States imposed symbolic sanctions on a North Korean company and the North Korean government for exporting medium or long-range missile components.

August 23, 2003 - Taliban fighters ambushed a truck full of government soldiers in the southern province of Zabul. Gov. Hafizullah Khan said five soldiers and three Taliban were killed.

August 23, 2004 - Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai arrived in Pakistan for talks with his Pres. Pervez Musharraf on eradicating Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters from their common border.

August 23, 2004 - Antigua and Barbuda's prime minister and American officials signed an agreement extending the lease of the U.S. Air Force base in the Caribbean country until 2008.

 

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