August 4

4 August

1790Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton’s proposal to build ten cutters to protect the new nation’s revenue (Stat. L. 145, 175). Alternately known as the system of cutters, Revenue Service, and Revenue-Marine this service would officially be named the Revenue Cutter Service (12 Stat. L., 639) in 1863. The cutters were placed under the control of the Treasury Department. This date marks the officially recognized birthday of the Coast Guard.
1830 – Plans for the city of Chicago were laid out.
1846 – Sailors and Marines from USS Congress capture Santa Barbara.
1855 – In the Battle of Ty-Ho Bay, China, Marines from the USS Powhatan captured 17 pirate junks near Hong Kong.
1858 – First trans-Atlantic cable completed by USS Niagara and British ship Agamemnon.
1863Four boat crews under Lieutenants Alexander F. Warley and John Payne from C.S.S. Chicora and Palmetto State and a Confederate Army detachment captured a Union picket station and an un-finished battery at Vincent’s Creek, Morris Island. The sharp engagement took place at night, after Confederates discovered that the Union men, under Acting Master John Haynes, USN, had been observing Southern movements at Cumming’s Point and signaling General Gillmore’s batteries so that effective artillery fire could be thrown on transports moving to the relief of Fort Wagner.
1864A Union operation against Confederate defenses around Atlanta, Georgia, stalls when infighting erupts between Yankee generals. The problem arose when Union General William T. Sherman began stretching his force—consisting of the Army of the Ohio, the Army of the Tennessee, and the Army of the Cumberland—west of Ezra Church, the site of a major battle on July 28, to Utoy Creek, west of Atlanta. The Confederate army inside of Atlanta, commanded by General John Bell Hood, had attacked Sherman’s army three times in late July and could no longer mount an offensive operation. Sherman now moved General John Schofield, who commanded the Army of the Ohio, from the east side of Atlanta to the west in an attempt to cut the rail lines that supplied the city from the south and west. Schofield’s force arrived at Utoy Creek on August 3. The Army of the Cumberland’s Fourteenth Corps, commanded by General John Palmer, had also been sent by Sherman to assist Schofield. But on August 4, the operation came to a standstill because Palmer refused to accept orders from anyone but General George Thomas, commander of the Army of the Cumberland. Although Schofield was the director of the operation, Palmer felt that Schofield was his junior. The two men had been promoted to major general on the same day in 1862, but Schofield’s appointment had expired four months later. Schofield had been reappointed with his original date of promotion, November 29, 1862, but Palmer insisted that the reappointment placed Schofield behind him in seniority. Agreeing only to relay Schofield’s order to his division commanders, Palmer refused even to accept Sherman’s orders. On August 5, Sherman declared that Schofield was senior to Palmer, upon which Palmer resigned and returned to his Illinois home. The delay provided the Confederates ample time to extend their defenses and protect their western rail links. An example of how generals’ egos could be both large and fragile, the incident would be laughable if it were not for the event’s consequences. When the Yankees attacked on August 6, they were repulsed with the loss of 300 casualties, which might have been prevented if the squabble had not occurred.
1864 – Federal troops fail to capture Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, one of the Confederate forts defending Mobile Bay.
1864Landing party under Commander George M. Colvocoresses, composed of 115 officers and men, raided a meeting of civilians forming a coastal guard at McIntosh Court House, Georgia. Colvocoresses marched his men overland after coming ashore during the night of 2 August, destroyed a bridge to prevent being cut off by Confederate cavalry, and captured some 26 prisoners and 22 horses before making his way safely back to U.S.S. Saratoga. Rear Admiral Dahlgren, amused at the circumstances of the expedition and pleased with its results, reported to the men of his squadron: “Captain Colvocoresses having been favored with a sight of the notice in a Savannah paper, and feeling considerable interest in the object of the meeting, concluded that he would attend it also, which he did, with a number of United States citizens serving at the time on board the U.S.S. Saratoga as officers, seamen, and marines. . . . When the appointed time arrived, Mr. Miller [Boatswain Philip J. Miller] set fire to the bridge [outside the town] and at the signal the main body rushed out and joined the meeting. . . . Captain Colvocoresses then read to the meeting from the newspaper the order of Colonel Gaulden [CSA] for their assembling, and, regretting that the Colonel had failed to attend, he invited the meeting to accompany him, which they did, and arrived safely on board the Saratoga, where they meet daily under the United States flag.” The Admiral later reported to Secretary Welles of the prisoners: “. . . . it is hoped that under the old flag the deliberations may be of a more beneficial tendency, as the parties are now relieved of their proposed responsibility as a coast guard.”
1873While protecting a railroad survey party in Montana, Custer and his 7th Cavalry clash for the first time with the Sioux Indians, who will defeat them three years later at Little Big Horn. During the previous two years, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry had not fought a single battle against the hostile Indians of the western Plains. Hungry for action, Custer was pleased when the 7th Cavalry was ordered to help protect a party of surveyors laying out the route for the proposed Northern Pacific Railroad. The new transcontinental railroad (the third in the United States) was to pass through territory controlled by hostile Sioux Indians. Custer was optimistic that the assignment would give him a chance to improve his reputation as an Indian fighter. Initially, the military escort saw little action. The hostile Indians seemed to be avoiding or ignoring the survey party. For Custer, the mission turned into something of a lark. He spent much of his time shooting buffalo, antelope, elk, and other animals. To find good hunting, he often led the 7th Cavalry far away from the survey party and the main body of the military escort. On this day in 1873, Custer was far ahead of the rest of the force, camping along the Tongue River in southeastern Montana. Suddenly, a large band of Sioux warriors appeared on the horizon and attacked. The Indians were led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, but the young braves seemed to have attacked impetuously and with little planning. Custer, who had been taking an afternoon nap, reacted quickly and mounted an effective defense. After a brief skirmish, the Indians withdrew. Since only one soldier and one Indian were killed in the skirmish, Custer’s short battle along the Tongue River seemed relatively insignificant at the time. However, Custer’s easy escape in his first encounter with Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse may have given him a dangerously scornful view of their fighting abilities. It helped to confirm his belief that the Plains warriors tended to flee rather than fight. As a result, when Custer again encountered Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse at the Little Big Horn River three years later, his greatest fear was that they would withdraw before he could attack, and he rushed in without proper reconnaissance. That time, though, the Indians stood and fought, leaving Custer and more than 200 of his men dead.
1912 – The 1st detachment of American forces requested by President Diaz, arrived at Managua, Nicaragua, from Corinto. It was a handful of seamen from the USS ANNAPOLIS.
1914 – Britain declares war on Germany at 2300 hours as the Germans reject a British ultimatum demanding that they leave Belgian soil.
1914 – Germany declares war on Belgium and its armies invade in force. Leading the main attack are the First Army commanded by General Alexander von Kluck and General Karl von Buelow’s Second Army.
1914As World War I erupts in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson formally proclaims the neutrality of the United States; a position a vast majority of Americans favored. However, Wilson’s hope that America could be “impartial in thought as well as in action” was soon compromised by Germany’s attempted quarantine of the British Isles. Britain was one of America’s closest trading partners, and tension arose between the United States and Germany when several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines. In February 1915, Germany announced unrestricted warfare against all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain. One month later, Germany announced that a German cruiser had sunk the William P. Frye, a private American vessel that was transporting grain to England when it disappeared. President Wilson was outraged, but the German government apologized and called the attack an unfortunate mistake. In early May 1915, several New York newspapers published a warning by the German embassy in Washington that Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so at their own risk. The announcement was placed on the same page as an advertisement of the imminent sailing of the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner from New York to Liverpool. On May 7, the Lusitania was torpedoed without warning by a German submarine just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans. It was revealed that the Lusitania was carrying about 173 tons of war munitions for Britain, which the Germans cited as further justification for the attack. The United States eventually sent three notes to Berlin protesting the action, and Germany apologized and pledged to end unrestricted submarine warfare. In November, however, a U-boat sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. Public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany. In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare. The United States broke off relations with Germany, and on February 22 Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. Two days later, British authorities gave the U.S. ambassador to Britain a copy of the “Zimmermann Note,” a coded message from German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann to Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German ambassador to Mexico. In the telegram, intercepted and deciphered by British intelligence, Zimmermann stated that in the event of war with the United States, Mexico should be asked to enter the conflict as a German ally. In return, Germany promised to restore to Mexico the lost territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. On March 1, the U.S. State Department published the note, and American public opinion was galvanized against Germany. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany. Two days later, the House of Representatives endorsed the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally entered World War I. On June 26, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat. After four years of bloody stalemate along the western front, the entrance of America’s well-supplied forces into the conflict was a major turning point in the war. When the war finally ended on November 11, 1918, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and some 50,000 of these men had lost their lives.
1916 – The United States purchased the Danish Virgin Islands for $25 million.
1918 – America’s second highest-scoring ace, Frank Luke, begins his short but distinguished career. He downs 14 observation balloons and four aircraft in a few weeks. He is forced down behind German lines in late September, and refusing to surrender, will be shot.
1933 – The New York Stock Exchange was shut down again, this time when gas bombs exploded near the Exchange building in downtown New York. Though the blasts didn’t deter trading, safety concerns led officials to close shop at 12:30.
1937 – Marine Corps League incorporated by Congress.
1943 – On New Georgia, Americans capture Munda and the air field.
1943 – American forces continue to fight for Troina, Sicily.
1944German forces in Brittany, elements of the 25th Corps (General Farmbacher), fall back on the major ports: St. Malo, Brest, Lorient and St. Nazaire. The US 12th Army Group continues offensive operations. The US 8th Corps (part of US 3rd Army) occupies Rennes and continues to advance toward Vannes. The US 5th and 14th Corps (both part of US 1st Army) also advance.
1944 – A group from Task Force 38 (Admiral Clark) attacks Japanese positions on the island of Iwo Jima causing substantial damage.
1944 – A group from Task Force 38 (Admiral Clark) attacks Japanese positions on the island of Chichi Jima causing substantial damage.
1945 – American aircraft drop leaflets warning of air attacks on 12 more cities.
1945 – In Singapore, Japanese guards execute seven captured American airmen.
1945 – American bombers attack Japanese positions at Surabaya on Java.
1945 – The area of command under General MacArthur is extended to include the Ryukyu Islands, south of Kyushu.
1947 – Birthdate of the Navy Medical Service Corps
1949Congress approved Public Law 207, which revised, codified and enacted into law title 14 of the United Stated Code. This set forth for the first time a clear, concise statutory statement of the duties and functions of the U.S. Coast Guard. The Act confirmed that the Coast Guard was a branch of the armed forces of the United States, confirmed it in its general functions of marine safety, maritime law enforcement, and military readiness to operate as a service in the Navy upon declaration of war or when the president directs.
1950 – Fleet Air Wing 6 was established in Tokyo, Japan, under the acting command of Captain John C. Alderman. The wing was assigned operational control over all U.S. and British patrol squadrons in the Japan-Korea area.
1950 – Eighth Army established a defensive line along the Naktong River just 50 miles short of the sea. Journalists labeled this line as the Pusan Perimeter.
1952 – Helicopters from the U.S. Air Force Air Rescue Service landed in Germany, completing the first transatlantic flight by helicopter in 51 hours and 55 minutes of flight time.
1953Speaking before the Governor’s Conference in Seattle, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warns that the situation in Asia is becoming “very ominous for the United States.” In the speech, Eisenhower made specific reference to the need to defend French Indochina from the communists. By 1953, U.S. officials were becoming increasingly concerned with events in Asia and elsewhere in the so-called “Third World.” During the early years of the Cold War (1945 to 1950), the focus of America’s anticommunist foreign policy was on Europe. With the outbreak of war in Korea in 1950, however, the American government began to shift its focus to other areas of the globe, particularly Asia. During the presidential campaign of 1952, Eisenhower was harshly critical of President Harry S. Truman’s foreign policy, declaring that too little attention had been paid to Asia and that the Korean War was the result of ignoring communist intentions in that corner of the world. Shortly after taking office in early 1953, the victorious Eisenhower adopted a “get tough” policy toward the situation in Korea, even hinting that nuclear weapons might be employed to break the military stalemate between U.S. and communist forces. On July 27, 1953, an armistice was signed, bringing the Korean War to an end. Just over a week later, Eisenhower addressed the Governor’s Conference and suggested that the communist danger in Asia was far from over. He specifically noted the communist threat in French Indochina, where the French military was battling Vietnamese revolutionaries for control of Vietnam. Eisenhower defended his decision to approve a $400 million aid package to help the French in their effort as “the cheapest way that we can prevent the occurrence that would be of most terrible significance to the United States.” According to Eisenhower, communist victory in Indochina would have far-reaching consequences. “Now let us assume that we lose Indochina. If Indochina goes, several things happen right away. The Malay Peninsula, that last little bit of land hanging on down there, would be scarcely defensible. The tin and tungsten that we so greatly value from that area would cease coming.” One by one, other Asian nations would be toppled. “So you see, somewhere along that line, this must be blocked and it must be blocked now.” Eisenhower’s speech marked the first appearance of what would come to be known as the “domino theory”–the idea that the loss of Indochina to communism would lead to other Asian nations following suit, like a row of dominos. The speech also indicated that the United States was fully committed to the defense of Indochina to prevent this possibility. After the defeat of the French in 1954, America took France’s place in fighting the Vietnamese communist revolutionaries, thus beginning its slow but steady immersion into the Vietnam War.
1955 – Eisenhower authorized $46 million for the construction of CIA headquarters.
1964At 8 p.m., the destroyers USS Maddox and USS C. Turner Joy, operating in the Gulf of Tonkin, intercept radio messages from the North Vietnamese that give Captain John Herrick of the Maddox the “impression” that Communist patrol boats are planning an attack against the American ships, prompting him to call for air support from the carrier USS Ticonderoga. Eight Crusader jets soon appeared overhead, but in the darkness, neither the pilots nor the ship crews saw any enemy craft. However, about 10 p.m. sonar operators reported torpedoes approaching. The U.S. destroyers maneuvered to avoid the torpedoes and began to fire at the North Vietnamese patrol boats. When the action ended about two hours later, U.S. officers reported sinking two, or possibly three of the North Vietnamese boats, but no American was sure of ever having seen any enemy boats nor any enemy gunfire. Captain Herrick immediately communicated his doubts to his superiors and urged a “thorough reconnaissance in daylight.” Shortly thereafter, he informed Admiral U. S. Grant Sharp, commander of the Pacific Fleet, that the blips on the radar scope were apparently “freak weather effects” while the report of torpedoes in the water were probably due to “overeager” radar operators. Because of the time difference, it was only 9:20 a.m. in Washington when the Pentagon received the initial report of a potential attack on the U.S. destroyers. When a more detailed report was received at 11 a.m. there was still a lot of uncertainty as to just what had transpired. President Johnson, convinced that the second attack had taken place, ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to select targets for possible retaliatory air strikes. At a National Security Council meeting, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, recommended to the president that the reprisal strikes be ordered. Johnson was cautious at first, but in a follow-up meeting in the afternoon, he gave the order to execute the reprisal, code-named Pierce Arrow. The President then met with 16 Congressional leaders to inform them of the second unprovoked attack and that he had ordered reprisal attacks. He also told them he planned to ask for a Congressional resolution to support his actions. At 11:20 p.m., McNamara was informed by Admiral Sharp that the aircraft were on their way to the targets and at 11:26, President Johnson appeared on national television and announced that the reprisal raids were underway in response to unprovoked attacks on U.S. warships. He assured the viewing audience that, “We still seek no wider war.” However, these incidents proved to be only the opening moves in an escalation that would eventually see more than 500,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam.
1969The first secret negotiating session takes place between Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese representative Xuan Thuy, at the apartment of French intermediary Jean Sainteny in Paris. Kissinger reiterated an earlier proposal put forth on May 14 for a mutual withdrawal of North Vietnamese and U.S. troops and also warned that if no progress was made by November 1 toward ending the war, the United States would consider measures of “grave consequences.” Xuan Thuy responded with the standard North Vietnamese line that the United States would have to withdraw all its troops and abandon the Thieu government before there would be any “logical and realistic basis for settling the war.” The negotiations ended with only an agreement to keep open the new secret channel of communications. These secret talks would continue, but would not bear fruit until late 1972, after the North Vietnamese Nguyen Hue Offensive had failed and President Nixon had launched Operation Linebacker II, the “Christmas bombing” of North Vietnam.
1981 – Oliver North was assigned to White House duty.
1988 – US Congress voted $20,000 to each Japanese-American interned during WW II.
1989 – Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani offered to help end the hostage crisis in Lebanon, prompting President Bush to say he was “encouraged.”
1990 – The European Community imposed an embargo on imports of oil from Iraq and Kuwait to protest the Baghdad government’s invasion of its oil-rich neighbor.
1992 – The crew of the space shuttle Atlantis encountered difficulties as they tried to reel out a satellite attached to miles of thin cord as part of an electricity-producing experiment.
1993 – Two GIs are WIA in a convoy ambush near Bale Dogle, Somalia.
1997U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan approves a revised Iraqi aid distribution plan under the U.N. oil-for-food program. Since late May, Iraq has refused to sell any oil until the U.N. approved the revised aid distribution plan which is designed to speed up the procedure for approving shipments of humanitarian goods.
1998 – The US Air Force announced plans to group its combat aircraft into ten teams over the next 2 years.
1998 – The Egyptian Jihad under Dr. Zawahri denounced the CIA-led arrests in Albania and said Americans should soon receive a response “in the only language that they understand.”
2001 – Philippine soldiers rescued 13 hostages of the 36 seized by Abu Sayyaf rebels on Aug 2.
2002 – Hans Blix rejects the Iraqi request that he travel to Baghdad for technical talks, saying he would not do so until Saddam Hussein approved the return of weapons inspectors.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 24 May 1921, Centralia, Ill. Accredited to: Illinois. Citation For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, 2d Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces at Tinian Island, Marianas Group, on 4 August 1944. As 1 of a group of marines advancing through heavy underbrush to neutralize isolated points of resistance, Pfc. Wilson daringly preceded his companions toward a pile of rocks where Japanese troops were supposed to be hiding. Fully aware of the danger involved, he was moving forward while the remainder of the squad, armed with automatic rifles, closed together in the rear when an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the group. Quick to act, Pfc. Wilson cried a warning to the men and unhesitatingly threw himself on the grenade, heroically sacrificing his own life that the others might live and fulfill their mission. His exceptional valor, his courageous loyalty and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave peril reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. Wilson and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

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