1680 – War started when the Spanish were expelled from Santa Fe, New Mexico, by Indians under Chief Pope.
1777 – American explosive device made by David Bushnell explodes near British vessel off New London, CT.
1779 – The Royal Navy defeats the Penobscot Expedition with the most significant loss of United States naval forces prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
1831 – Nat Turner sees a solar eclipse, which he believes is a sign from God. Eight days later he and 70 other slaves kill approximately 55 whites in Southampton County, Virginia, beginning the rebellion that bears his name.
1846 – The American flag was raised for the first time in Los Angeles as a joint expedition led by CDR Robert Stockton seizes the city.
1862 – Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest defeated a Union army under Thomas Crittenden at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
1863 – A naval force under Lieutenant Bache reconnoitered the White River above Clarendon, Arkansas, to gain information as to the whereabouts of [Confederate General Sterling] Price’s Army, to destroy the telegraph at Des Arc and capture the operator, and catch the steamboats Kaskaskia and Thos. Sugg.” The force, including U.S.S. Lexington, Lieutenant Bache; U.S.S. Cricket, Acting Lieutenant Langthorne; and U.S.S. Marmora, Acting Lieutenant R. Getty, with Army troops embarked, burned a large warehouse at Des Arc, destroyed the telegraph lines for a half a mile, and “obtained some information that we wanted.
1864 – Sensing a weakness in the Confederate defenses around Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia, Union General Ulysses S. Grant seeks to break the siege of Petersburg by concentrating his force against one section of the Rebel trenches. However, Grant miscalculated, and the week-long operation that began on August 13 failed to penetrate the Confederate defenses. Grant was operating on the information that General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, was sending part of his force to the Shenandoah Valley to support General Jubal Early, who had spent the summer fending off Union forces and threatening Washington, D.C. Without realizing that this information was false, Grant believed that a section of the Confederate trenches around Deep Bottom Run, between Richmond and Petersburg, was now lightly defended. Grant shipped parts of three corps north across the James River on August 13. Led by General Winfield Scott Hancock, the plan called for a series of attacks along the Confederate fortifications. Beginning on August 14, the Yankees tried for six days to find a weakness. Although a Union force broke through at Fussell’s Mill, a lack of reinforcements left the Federals vulnerable to a Confederate attack, and the Rebels quickly restored the broken line. The campaign cost 3,000 Union casualties and about 1,500 for the Confederates. The Southern defensive network, stretching over 20 miles, remained intact, but the failed operation prevented Lee from shipping troops to Early in the Shenandoah; Early would soon face defeat at the hands of a larger Union force commanded by General Philip Sheridan.
1864 – U.S.S. Agawam, Commander Rhind, engaged three different Confederate batteries near Four Mile Creek on the James River. The 975-ton double-ender was fired upon early in the afternoon, countered immediately and maintained a heavy fire for over four hours when, “finding our ammunition running short, having expended 228 charges, we weighed anchor and dropped down.” Next day Agawam again engaged the batteries, in support of Union troops advancing along the river.
1864 – Ships of the Confederate James River Squadron, including C.S.S. Virginia II, Fredericksburg, Commander Rootes, C.S.S. Hampton, Lieutenant John W. Murdaugh, C.S.S. Nansemond, Lieutenant Charles W. Hays, C.S.S. Drewry, Lieutenant William W. Hall, shelled Union Army positions near Dutch Gap, Virginia. At the request of the Confederate Army, Flag Officer Mitchell kept up the fire, intended to support Confederate troop movements in the area, for over 12 hours. The Union entrenchments, however, were largely beyond the range of his guns and hidden by hills. Union gunboats took position below the James River barricade; but their guns could not reach the ships of Mitchell’s squadron. The Confederate fire was, however, returned briskly by Union shore emplacements. Mitchell ordered his ships to return to their anchorages at nightfall.
1870 – Armed tug Palos becomes first U.S. Navy ship to transit Suez Canal.
1876 – Reciprocity Treaty between US and Hawaii was ratified.
1898 – When the U.S. declared war against Spain in April it was to help the Cubans gain their independence from Spanish colonial rule. Nothing was said about Spain’s other colonies, including the Philippines. However, as part of America’s war effort, it was quickly decided to take the islands as a colony of the United States. Commodore George Dewey’s decisive naval victory destroying the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1st opened the way for land forces to be used to capture the colonial capital city of Manila on the island of Luzon. By June American troops, most of them in state volunteer units, began arriving to besiege the city. Among these units was the “Utah Battery” actually composed of two batteries each armed with 3-inch rifled guns. As the U.S. soldiers arrived they were confronted by two armies, one composed of Spanish soldiers and the other of Philippine rebels who wanted their freedom from Spanish rule. American political leaders want the islands too, so a three-way stand-off was in the making. When enough American troops were in position around Manila it was decided to attack the city; however, Spanish officials agreed to surrender to the Americans only after a brief, honor saving, attack. So on this date the Utah batteries found themselves firing in support of almost uncontested American advances into the city. This soon changed when the rebels also attacked, trying to seize the old part of Manila, containing most of the government buildings. American troops got into fire fights with Filipinos while attempting to save Spanish lives from marauding rebels out for revenge. By the end of the day, most of the city was in American hands and an uneasy peace settled over the area. While coming under enemy fire at least once and forced to change position several times during the engagement the Utah units lost no men in action.
1906 – At Fort Brown, Texas, some 10-20 armed men engaged an all-Black Army unit in a shooting rampage that left one townsperson dead and a police officer wounded. A 1910 inquiry placed guilt on the soldiers and Pres. Roosevelt ordered all 167 discharged without honor. In 1970 John Weaver (d.2002) authored “The Brownsville Raid,” an account of the incident that led the Army to exonerate all 167 men.
1918 – Opha M. Johnson enlisted at HQMC, becoming the first woman Marine.
1942 – Major General Eugene Reybold of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorizes the construction of facilities that would house the “Development of Substitute Materials” project, better known as the Manhattan Project.
1943 – The Quebec Conference begins. British and American military leaders meet in Quebec. They are joined by Roosevelt and Churchill to discuss Allied strategy.
1943 – The US 5th Air Force raids the oilfields at Balikpapan with 380 planes from bases in Australia.
1944 – The US 15th Corps (part of US 3rd Army) captures Argentan. General Bradley, commanding US 12th Army Group, orders a halt to the 3rd Army advance in this direction. Meanwhile, US 12th and 20th Corps advance on Orleans and Chartres from Le Mans.
1945 – French troops are deployed in Berlin and take up garrison duties in the designated parts of the American and British zones in the west of the city.
1945 – Japanese surrender documents, approved by President Truman, are sent to General MacArthur.
1945 – About 1600 American aircraft fly over Tokyo and other Japanese cities dropping millions of leaflets explaining the position reached in the surrender negotiations and the state of affairs in Japan. Most Japanese “hawks” still refuse to admit defeat. Japanese Sub-Lieutenant Saburo Sakai, the one-eyed fighter ace (with 64 victories), shoots down a B-29 near Tokyo during the night (August 13-14).
1948 – Responding to increasing Soviet pressure on western Berlin, U.S. and British planes airlift a record amount of supplies into sections of the city under American and British control. The massive resupply effort, carried out in weather so bad that some pilots referred to it as “Black Friday,” signaled that the British and Americans would not give in to the Soviet blockade of western Berlin. Berlin, like all of Germany, was divided into zones of occupation following World War II. The Russians, Americans, and British all received a zone, with the thought being that the occupation would be only temporary and that Germany would eventually be reunited. By 1948, however, Cold War animosities between the Soviets and the Americans and British had increased to such a degree that it became obvious that German reunification was unlikely. In an effort to push the British and Americans out of their zones of occupation in western Berlin, the Soviets began to interfere with road and rail traffic into those parts of the city in April 1948. (Though divided into zones of occupation, the city of Berlin was geographically located entirely within the Russian occupation area in Germany.) In June 1948, the Russians halted all ground and water travel into western Berlin. The Americans and British responded with a massive airlift to supply the people in their Berlin zones of occupation with food, medicine, and other necessities. It was a daunting logistical effort, and meant nearly round-the-clock flights in and out of western Berlin. August 13, 1948, was a particularly nasty day, with terrible weather compounding the crowded airspace and exhaustion of the pilots and crews. Nevertheless, over 700 British and American planes landed in western Berlin, bringing in nearly 5,000 tons of supplies. The joint British-American effort on what came to known as “Black Friday” was an important victory for two reasons. First and foremost, it reassured the people of western Berlin that the two nations were not backing down from their promise to defend the city from the Soviets. Second, it was another signal that the Soviet blockade was not only unsuccessful but was also backfiring into a propaganda nightmare. While the Soviets looked like bullies and heartless despots for their efforts to starve western Berlin into submission, the British and Americans–flaunting their technological superiority–were portrayed as heroes by the worldwide audience.
1950 – Pres. Truman gave military aid to the Vietnamese regime of Bao-Dai.
1960 – The first two-way telephone conversation by satellite took place with the help of Echo 1, a balloon satellite.
1962 – Two Americans, David Healy and Leonard Oeth, skyjack a charter plane heading to Miami, Florida, and force its pilot to fly to Cuba. Apparently unwelcome, they were later returned to the United States and jailed. Over the next few years, skyjacking became relatively common in America. But, in 1968, the trend absolutely exploded: There were at least 10 plane hijackings to Cuba in a six-month period between February and August. The first attempted skyjacking to Cuba took place on August 3, 1961, when Leon Bearden and his 17-year-old son Cody boarded a Continental jet in Phoenix, Arizona, carrying 65 passengers. Leon had a long criminal record and was looking for a fresh start in Cuba. The pilot of the airliner, Bryon Richards, had–remarkably enough–been the victim of the first recorded hijacking of a plane back in 1931. As someone with experience in the matter, Richards calmly convinced Bearden that they would need to land in El Paso, Texas, to have enough fuel to fly to Cuba. With the FBI waiting at the airport when they touched down, Bearden was persuaded to allow 61 passengers to leave the plane during the refueling. As the plane was moving down the runway to take off for Cuba, several agents disabled its tires and engine with machine gunfire. When an FBI agent boarded the plane, Bearden became enraged and threatened to shoot the remaining hostages. However, one of the hostages managed to knock Bearden out with a well-placed punch, and young Cody was glad to surrender. Leon Bearden received a life sentence, but his son only remained in a juvenile facility until he was 21. The strangest skyjacking occurred in 1969, when Anthony Raymond forced an Eastern jet to Cuba by drunkenly waving a pocketknife in front of the stewardess. When he sobered up in Cuba, he almost immediately sought to come back to the United States. He blamed a credit card company for giving him a card that would enable him to get drunk and buy the airline ticket in the first place. The judge rejected his novel defense and sentenced him to 15 years in prison, but wondered why the flight crew had agreed to take orders from Raymond, who was too inebriated to even stand up while he was hijacking the flight.
1969 – The Apollo 11 astronauts are released from a three-week quarantine to enjoy a ticker tape parade in New York, New York. That evening, at a state dinner in Los Angeles, California, they are awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Richard Nixon.
1972 – Communist sappers (demolitions specialists) attack the ammo dump at Long Binh, destroying thousands of tons of ammunition. Some observers said that the Communists might have been reverting to guerrilla tactics due to the overall failure of the Nguyen Hue Offensive that had been launched in March.
1987 – A rented Piper Cherokee airplane flew close to President Reagan’s helicopter in restricted airspace over Southern California; the pilot and passenger of the plane were arrested.
1989 – The space shuttle Columbia returned from a secret military mission.
1990 – President Bush ordered Defense Secretary Dick Cheney to the Persian Gulf for the second time since Iraq invaded Kuwait. American combat troops in Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, were told to prepare for a long stay.
2001 – In Macedonia a peace deal was signed by rival leaders of the 2 main ethnic groups and paved the way for NATO troops to arrive and disarm ethnic Albanian rebels.
2001 – Iraqi Vice-President Ramadan announces that Syria will soon hire contractors to build a new oil pipeline stretching from the Iraqi border to Syria.The pipeline would replace an old one that was shut down in 1982, but is reported to be operating.
2003 – In southern Afghanistan a bomb ripped through a bus in Lashkargah, killing 15 people, including six children. Officials blamed al-Qaida and remnants of the Taliban militia for the bombing, the deadliest in nearly a year. Heavy fighting erupted between government soldiers and Taliban remnants. 43 deaths were reported in the fighting.
2003 – Iraq began pumping crude oil from its northern oil fields for the first time since the start of the war.
2004 – Iraqi officials and aides to a radical Shiite cleric negotiated to end fighting that has raged in the holy city of Najaf for 9 days, after American forces suspended an offensive against Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia.
2004 – An Islamic Web site posted still pictures that purportedly show Iraqi militants beheading an Egyptian man they claim was spying for the U.S. military.
2004 – A southern Philippines court sentenced 17 members of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militant group to death for kidnapping nurses from a hospital there three years ago.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
*KILMER, JOHN E.
Rank and organization: Hospital Corpsman, U.S. Navy, attached to duty as a medical corpsman with a Marine rifle company in the 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Korea, 13 August 1952. Entered service at: Houston, Tex. Born: 15 August 1930, Highland Park, Ill. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against enemy aggressor forces. With his company engaged in defending a vitally important hill position well forward of the main line of resistance during an assault by large concentrations of hostile troops, HC Kilmer repeatedly braved intense enemy mortar, artillery, and sniper fire to move from 1 position to another, administering aid to the wounded and expediting their evacuation. Painfully wounded himself when struck by mortar fragments while moving to the aid of a casualty, he persisted in his efforts and inched his way to the side of the stricken marine through a hail of enemy shells falling around him. Undaunted by the devastating hostile fire, he skillfully administered first aid to his comrade and, as another mounting barrage of enemy fire shattered the immediate area, unhesitatingly shielded the wounded man with his body. Mortally wounded by flying shrapnel while carrying out this heroic action, HC Kilmer, by his great personal valor and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice in saving the life of a comrade, served to inspire all who observed him. His unyielding devotion to duty in the face of heavy odds reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for another.