1806 – While hunting for elk along the Missouri River, Meriwether Lewis is shot in the hip, probably by one of his own men. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had embarked on their epic journey to the Pacific two years earlier. The 33 members of the Corps of Discovery had experienced many adventures and narrowly escaped disaster on several occasions, but they had lost only one man (Sergeant Floyd, a probable victim of appendicitis) and suffered relatively few serious injuries. Now, at last, they were returning home; St. Louis was scarcely a month away. A few weeks earlier, Lewis and Clark had divided the party in order to explore additional new territory. The two groups were supposed to reunite at the junction of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. Lewis, traveling with nine men, hurried down the Missouri, eager to be reunited with Clark and the main body of the expedition. However, he periodically had to take time to stop and hunt for game to feed the hardworking men. On the morning of this day in 1806, Lewis spotted some elk on a bar in the river thickly overgrown with willows. He put to shore and set out to hunt accompanied by Private Cruzatte. Spotting an elk, Lewis was just about to fire his rifle when he was hit in the buttocks by a bullet. The blow spun him around and slashed a three-inch gash in his hip. Knowing that Cruzatte was blind in one eye and nearsighted in the other, Lewis immediately assumed the private had mistaken him for an elk. “Damn you,” Lewis cried. “You have shot me.” When Cruzatte did not respond, Lewis feared Indians might have attacked him. Rushing back to the boat, he rallied the men and sent them off to save Cruzatte. Twenty minutes later, the men returned with Cruzatte. They had seen no Indians, and Cruzatte denied having shot Lewis and claimed he had not heard his shouts. For the rest of his days, Cruzatte insisted he had not shot his captain. Lewis, however, had the offending bullet: A .54 caliber slug from a modern U.S. Army rifle. Lewis was shot by a gun identical to the one carried by Cruzatte, and one unlikely to be in the hands of any Indian. The near-sighted Cruzatte probably mistook the leather-clad Lewis for an elk, though it is unlikely the private’s guilt will ever be proven with absolute certainty. His wound was not serious, but Lewis spent the next several days lying faced down in the bottom of a canoe as the party proceeded down river. The following day, they caught up with Clark. By the time they reached St. Louis on September 23, Lewis’ wound had healed and the excitement of homecoming overshadowed the event.
1807 – David Atchison, legislator, was born. He was president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, and president of U.S. for one day [March 4, 1849], the Sunday before Zachary Taylor was sworn in.
1812 – USS Constitution captures and destroys brig Lady Warren.
1817 – The ship Margaret, which sailed on Sunday, August 10, 1817, for Amelia Island with a number of persons on board, supposed to be going out for the purpose of joining the pirates, was brought back by the RC Active, under the command of Revenue Captain John Cahoone, and anchored 11 August in the Bay. The cutter fired several shots at the Margaret before she hove to. Is is said that she has also munitions of war on board.
1856 – A band of rampaging settlers in California killed four Yokut Indians. The settlers had heard unproven rumors of Yokut atrocities.
1860 – The first US successful silver mill began operation near Virginia City, Nev.
1862 – President Abraham Lincoln appointed Union General Henry Halleck to the position of general in chief of the Union Army.
1864 – Confederate General Jubal Early pulls out of Winchester, Virginia, as Union General Philip Sheridan approaches the city. Wary of his new foe, Early moved away to avoid an immediate conflict. Since June, Early and his 14,000 troops had been campaigning in the Shenandoah Valley and the surrounding area. He had been sent there by General Robert E. Lee, whose Army of Northern Virginia was pinned near Richmond by the army of Union General Ulysses S. Grant. Early’s expedition was intended to distract Grant, and he carried out his mission well. In July, Early moved down the Shenandoah Valley to the Potomac River, brushing aside two Federal forces before arriving on the outskirts of Washington. Grant dispatched troops from his army to drive Early away, but Early simply returned to the Shenandoah and continued to operate with impunity. Now Grant sent General Philip Sheridan to deal with Early. Sheridan had been appointed on August 1 to command the Army of the Shenandoah, and he was quick to take action when he arrived on the scene. On August 10, he marched his force toward Winchester. Early was alarmed, and pulled out of the city on August 11 to a more defensible position 20 miles south of Winchester. Sheridan followed with his force, settling his troops along Cedar Creek—just north of Strasburg, Virginia. As ordered by Grant, Sheridan stopped to await reinforcements. His army, consisting of both infantry and cavalry, would eventually total about 37,000 troops. Sheridan waited for a few days, but Confederate raider John Mosby and his Rangers burned a large store of Sheridan’s supplies. Alarmed and nearly out of food, Sheridan pulled back on August 16. This retreat was reminiscent of many Union operations in Virginia during the war. Early and others thought Sheridan was as timid and uncertain as other Federal commanders. That opinion changed little in the next month as Sheridan continued to wait and gather his force. However, Sheridan would later prove he was very different from previous Yankee leaders. In September, he began a campaign that drove the Confederates from the valley and then rendered the area useless to the Southern cause by destroying all the crops and supplies.
1864 – Small steamers U.S.S. Romeo, Acting Master Thomas Baldwin, and U.S.S. Prairie Bird, Acting Master Thomas Burns, and transport steamer Empress engaged battery at Gaines Landing, Arkan-sas, on the Mississippi River which the Confederates had secretly wheeled into place. On 10 August, Empress had been attacked by the batteries, enduring a withering fire which disabled her and killed Captain John Molloy. Romeo closed, fired upon the Confederate guns, and towed Empress to safety. Next day, however, the Southerner’s artillery again opened heavily on Prairie Bird which was passing the same point near Gaines Landing. Hearing the firing from upstream, Romeo came down and joined in the brisk engagement; the Confederates ultimately broke off the action and withdrew. All three ships were severely damaged in the two-day exchange, Empress alone taking some sixty-three hits.
1877 – Professor Asaph Hall of Naval Observatory discovers first of two satellites of Mars. He found the second one within a week.
1898 – In the Spanish–American War, American troops enter the city of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.
1909 – The SOS distress signal was first used by an American ship, the Arapahoe, off Cape Hatteras, N.C.
1921 – Carrier arresting gear first tested at Hampton Roads.
1923 – MCRD transferred from Mare Island to its present location at San Diego.
1942 – Actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil receive a patent for a Frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system that later became the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi.
1942 – The SS began exterminating 3,500 Jews in Zelov Lodz, Poland.
1943 – German forces begin a six-day evacuation of the Italian island of Sicily, having been beaten back by the Allies, who invaded the island in July. The Germans had maintained a presence in Sicily since the earliest days of the war. But with the arrival of Gen. George S. Patton and his 7th Army and Gen. Bernard Montgomery and his 8th Army, the Germans could no longer hold their position. The race began for the Strait of Messina, the 2-mile wide body of water that separated Sicily from the Italian mainland. The Germans needed to get out of Sicily and onto the Italian peninsula. While Patton had already reached his goal, Palermo, the Sicilian capital, on July 22 (to a hero’s welcome, as the Sicilian people were more than happy to see an end to fascist rule), Montgomery, determined to head off the Germans at Messina, didn’t make his goal in time. The German 29th Panzergrenadier Division and the 14th Panzer Corps were brought over from Africa for the sole purpose of slowing the Allies’ progress and allowing the bulk of the German forces to get off the island. The delaying tactic succeeded. Despite the heavy bombing of railways leading to Messina, the Germans made it to the strait on August 11. Over six days and seven nights, the Germans led 39,569 soldiers, 47 tanks, 94 heavy guns, 9,605 vehicles, and more than 2,000 tons of ammunition onto the Italian mainland. (Not to mention the 60,000 Italian soldiers who were also evacuated, in order to elude capture by the Allies.) Although the United States and Britain had succeeded in conquering Sicily, the Germans were now reinforced and heavily supplied, making the race for Rome more problematic.
1944 – Elements of US 3rd Army cross the Loire River.
1944 – German troops abandoned Florence, Italy, as Allied troops closed in on the historic city.
1945 – US Secretary of State, James Byrnes, replies to the Japanese offer to surrender with a refusal to make any compromise on the demand for unconditional surrender. His note states that the Allies envisage an unconditional surrender as one where the emperor will be “subject to” the supreme commander of the Allied powers and the form of government will be decided the the “will of the Japanese people.”
1945 – On Mindanao, American mopping up operations are completed.
1950 – Maj Vivian Moses became the first casualty of Marine Air Group 33. He crash-landed his F-4U Corsair in a rice paddy after being hit with ground fire and was thrown from the cockpit. Knocked unconscious, Moses drowned minutes before an air rescue team could get to him.
1952 – The 1stMarDiv participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill during the Korean War.
1954 – After nearly eight years of war, the Geneva brokered ceasefire is operating throughout all Indochina. by this time, the US Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) commanded by LTG John W. O’Daniel, US Army, based in Saigon, has 324 men in South Vietnam.
1960 – USNS Longview, using Navy helicopters and frogmen, recovers a Discover satellite capsule after 17 orbits. This is first recovery of U.S. satellite from orbit.
1965 – What should have been a routine traffic stop in the Watts neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles developed into one of the worst racial riots in American history. Tensions between the African American community and city law enforcement erupted into war-like acts as snipers and arsonists attacked the police and fire department personal sent to quell the disturbance. In one of the largest deployments of aid to civil authority in American history up to that time, 12,758 California Guardsmen, drawn from two divisions (7,560 men from the 40th Armored and 5,198 from the 49th Infantry), were put on the streets to help restore order and protect people and property. Air Guard units from California and Arizona flew a total of 18 C-97 and five C-119 transport aircraft to airlift the 49th Division’s men from Northern California to the LA area. While a number of Guardsmen returned sniper fire, it remains unclear if any civilians were killed by the Guard. After six days and nights of terror the city’s streets were restored to peace, but at a very high cost; 34 dead (no Guardsmen), more than 1,000 injured (including several Guardsmen), 4,000 arrested and over 1,000 buildings destroyed. Government and civic leaders, including some in the black community, praised the Guardsmen for their courage, devotion to duty and fair treatment of citizens regardless of race. Four Guardsmen were award the California Military Cross for bravery.
1966 – CGC Point Welcome was attacked in the pre-dawn hours of 11 August 1966 by U.S. Air Force aircraft while on patrol in the waters near the mouth of the Cua Viet River, about three-quarters of a mile south of the Demilitarized Zone (the 17th Parallel) in South Vietnam. Her commanding officer, LTJG David Brostrom, along with one crewmen, EN2 Jerry Phillips, were killed in this “friendly fire” incident. The Point Welcome’s executive officer, LTJG Ross Bell, two other crewmen, GM2 Mark D. McKenney and FA Houston J. Davidson, a Vietnamese liaison officer, LTJG Do Viet Vien, and a freelance journalist, Mr. Timothy J. Page, were wounded. Crewman BMC Richard Patterson saved his cutter and the surviving crew at great risk to himself. He was awarded a Bronze Star with the combat “V” device for his actions
1967 – For the first time, U.S. pilots are authorized to bomb road and rail links in the Hanoi-Haiphong area, formerly on the prohibited target list. This permitted U.S. aircraft to bomb targets within 25 miles of the Chinese border and to engage other targets with rockets and cannon within 10 miles of the border. The original restrictions had been imposed because of Johnson’s fear of a confrontation with China and a possible expansion of the war.
1970 – As part of the Vietnamization effort, South Vietnamese troops relieve U.S. units of their responsibility for guarding the Cambodian and Laotian borders along almost the entire South Vietnamese frontier. Nixon’s strategy in Vietnam was to improve the fighting capability of the South Vietnamese forces so that they could assume the responsibility for the war and, allowing for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. The assumption of the responsibility for the border areas was significant because those areas had previously required the presence of large U.S. combat formations.
1972 – The last U.S. ground combat unit in South Vietnam, the Third Battalion, Twenty-First Infantry, departs for the United States. The unit had been guarding the U.S. air base at Da Nang. This left only 43,500 advisors, airmen, and support troops left in-country. This number did not include the sailors of the Seventh Fleet on station in the South China Sea or the air force personnel in Thailand and Guam.
1975 – The United States vetoed the proposed admission of North and South Vietnam to the United Nations, following the Security Council’s refusal to consider South Korea’s application.
1975 – Anthony C. McAuliffe (77), US General, commandant 101st div (Nuts!), died.
1982 – Members of a 7th District TACLET stood bridge watch aboard the USS Sampson, the first time a CG TACLET had served aboard a Navy vessel. The SECDEF approved the use of Coast Guard TACLETs aboard Navy warships only two days earlier.
1982 – A bomb explodes on Pan Am Flight 830, en route from Tokyo, Japan to Honolulu, Hawaii, killing one teenager and injuring 15 passengers.
1984 – A joke about “outlawing” the Soviet Union by President Ronald Reagan turns into an international controversy. The president’s remark caused consternation among America’s allies and provided grist for the Soviet propaganda mill. As he prepared for his weekly radio address, President Reagan was asked to make a voice check. Reagan obliged, declaring, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Since the voice check was not actually broadcast, it was not until after he delivered his radio address that news of his “joke” began to leak out. In Paris, a leading newspaper expressed its dismay, and stated that only trained psychologists could know whether Reagan’s remarks were “a statement of repressed desire or the exorcism of a dreaded phantom.” A Dutch news service remarked, “Hopefully, the man tests his missiles more carefully.” Other foreign newspapers and news services called Reagan “an irresponsible old man,” and declared that his comments were “totally unbecoming” for a man in his position. In the Soviet Union, commentators had a field day with Reagan’s joke. One stated, “It is said that a person’s level of humor reflects the level of his thinking. If so, aren’t one and the other too low for the president of a great country?” Another said, “We would not be wasting time on this unfortunate joke if it did not reflect once again the fixed idea that haunts the master of the White House.” Reagan’s joke provided additional ammunition for commentators at home and abroad who believed that the anticommunist crusader was a reckless “cowboy” intent on provoking a conflict with the Soviet Union. Putting the lie to these commentators, the man who also referred to Russia as an “evil empire” went on to establish a close personal relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev after the latter came to power in 1985. The two men later signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987, which eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons.
1987 – Britain and France ordered minesweepers to the Persian Gulf, but said they would not be used in combined operations with the United States as it escorted reflagged Kuwaiti ships.
1990 – Egyptian and Moroccan troops arrived in Saudi Arabia to join US forces in helping to protect the desert kingdom from possible Iraqi attack.
1991 – Shiite Muslim kidnappers in Lebanon released two Western captives: Edward Tracy, an American held nearly five years, and Jerome Leyraud, a Frenchman who had been abducted by a rival group three days earlier.
1991 – The space shuttle “Atlantis” returned safely from a nine-day journey.
1995 – President Clinton banned all US nuclear tests, calling his decision “the right step as we continue pulling back from the nuclear precipice.”
1995 – Pres. Clinton vetoed a congressional move to end the arms embargo on Bosnia and sent Envoy Richard Holdbrooke on a new peace mission.
1997 – It was reported that the US Energy Dept. was short of tritium for nuclear weapons and would borrow space from a civilian power plant for its production.
2000 – British and US bombers struck southern Iraq.
2002 – Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, a bioweapons expert under scrutiny for anthrax-laced letters, fiercely denied any involvement and said he had cooperated with the investigation.
2003 – In Afghanistan NATO took command of the 5,000-strong international peacekeeping force in Kabul, its 1st deployment outside Europe.
2003 – Hambali (39), an Indonesian whose real name is Riduan Isamuddin, was captured in a raid in the ancient temple city of Ayutthaya, Thailand. Hambali, the operational head of Jemaah Islamiyah, was handed over to US authorities and flown out of the country. He was al Qaeda’s top man in Southeast Asia and the suspected mastermind behind a string of deadly bombings including the Bali attacks.
2004 – Ahmad Chalabi, former Iraqi Governing Council member who fell out of favor with the United States, returned to Iraq to face counterfeiting charges.
2004 – U.S. jet fighters bombed the turbulent city of Fallujah.
2004 – Pakistani officials arrested around a dozen local and foreign militants who hatched a plot to launch strikes on August 13 and Pakistan’s 57th Independence Day celebrated on August 14. The plot was masterminded by an Egyptian Al-Qaeda suspect named Sheikh Esa alias Qari Ismail.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
*WHEAT, ROY M.
Rank and organization: Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company K, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 11 August 1967. Entered service a*: Jackson, Miss. Born: 24 July 1947, Moselle, Miss. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. L/Cpl. Wheat and 2 other marines were assigned the mission of providing security for a Navy construction battalion crane and crew operating along Liberty Road in the vicinity of the Dien Ban District, Quang Nam Province. After the marines had set up security positions in a tree line adjacent to the work site, L/Cpl. Wheat reconnoitered the area to the rear of their location for the possible presence of guerrillas. He then returned to within 10 feet of the friendly position, and here unintentionally triggered a well concealed, bounding type, antipersonnel mine. Immediately, a hissing sound was heard which was identified by the 3 marines as that of a burning time fuse. Shouting a warning to his comrades, L/Cpl. Wheat in a valiant act of heroism hurled himself upon the mine, absorbing the tremendous impact of the explosion with his body. The inspirational personal heroism and extraordinary valor of his unselfish action saved his fellow marines from certain injury and possible death, reflected great credit upon himself, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.