1691 – Yorktown, Va., was founded.
1777 – The Americans led by General John Stark rout British and Brunswick troops under Friedrich Baum at the Battle of Bennington in Walloomsac, New York.
1780 – American troops under Gen. Horatio Gates were badly defeated by the British at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina.
1812 – During the War of 1812, American General William Hull surrenders Fort Detroit and his army to the British without a fight. Hull, a 59-year-old veteran of the American Revolution, had lost hope of defending the settlement after seeing the large English and Indian force gathering outside Detroit’s walls. The general was also preoccupied with the presence of his daughter and grandchildren inside the fort. Of Hull’s 2,000-man army, most were militiamen, and British General Isaac Brock allowed them to return to their homes on the frontier. The regular U.S. Army troops were taken as prisoners to Canada. With the capture of Fort Detroit, Michigan Territory was declared a part of Great Britain and Shawnee chief Tecumseh was able to increase his raids against American positions in the frontier area. Hull’s surrender was a severe blow to American morale. In September 1813, U.S. General William Henry Harrison, the future president, recaptured Detroit. In 1814, William Hull was court-martialed for cowardice and neglect of duty in surrendering the fort, and sentenced to die. Because of his service in the revolution, however, President James Madison remitted the sentence.
1812 – USS Constitution recaptures American merchant brig Adeline.
1858 – A telegraphed message from Britain’s Queen Victoria to President Buchanan was transmitted over the recently laid trans-Atlantic cable. The cable linked Ireland and Canada and failed after a few weeks.
1861 – President Lincoln prohibited the states of the Union from trading with the seceding states of the Confederacy.
1861 – Union and Confederate forces clashed near Fredericktown and Kirkville, Missouri.
1862 – Naval forces under Lieutenant Commander S. L. Phelps, including U.S.S. Mound City, Benton, and General Bragg, and rams Monarch, Samson, Lioness, and Switzerland, under Colonel Ellet, con-voyed and covered Army troops under Colonel Charles R. Woods in a joint expedition up the Mississippi from Helena as far as the Yazoo River. The force was landed at various points en route, capturing steamer Fairplay above Vicksburg, with large cargo of arms, and dispersing Confederate troop encampments. The joint expedition also destroyed a newly erected Confederate battery about 20 miles up the Yazoo River.
1863 – Chickamauga campaign took place in GA. Union General William S. Rosecrans moved his army south from Tullahoma, Tennessee to attack Confederate forces in Chattanooga.
1863 – U.S.S. Pawnee, Commander Balch, escaped undamaged when a floating Confederate torpedo exploded under her stern, destroying a launch, shortly after midnight at Stono Inlet, South Carolina. Four hours later, another torpedo exploded within 30 yards of the ship. In all, four devices exploded close by, and two others were picked up by mortar schooner C. P. Williams. In addition, a boat capable of holding 10 torpedoes was captured by Pawnee. Commander Balch informed Rear Admiral Dahlgren that the torpedoes were ingenious and exceedingly simple” and suggested that ‘they may be one of the means” which the Confederates would use to destroy Northern ships stationed in the Stono River. The threat posed by the torpedoes floating down rivers caused grave concern among Northern naval commanders, and Dahlgren came to grips with it at once. Within 10 days, Lieutenant Commander Bacon, U.S.S. Commodore McDonough reported from Lighthouse Inlet that a net had been stretched across the Inlet “for the purpose of stopping torpedoes. . . .”
1864 – Battle of Front Royal, VA. (Guard Hill).
1864 – Ships of the James River Division, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, transported and supported Union troops in an advance from Dutch Gap, Virginia. Captain M. Smith described the supporting deployment: “The Mount Washington was detained to transport the troops from Dutch Gap to Aiken’s [Landing], and to lie off that point and use her 32 pounder, holding herself ready to reembark troops if necessary. Just above her the Delaware, a little farther above the Mackinaw, and at the bend of Dutch Gap the Canonicus were stationed to cover the advance by shelling the enemy’s line, the Canonicus also devoting attention to Signal Hill Battery.” Throughout the long months of virtually stalemated operations in the James River area, naval forces operated intimately with the Army, facilitating the small advances that were made and checking reverses with the big guns that could swiftly be brought to bear on points of decision near the river.
1864 – Boat expedition by Commander Colvocoresses, U.S.S. Saratoga, consisting of men from that ship and T. A. Ward, Acting Master Babcock, captured some 100 prisoners and a quantity of arms on a daring raid into Mcintosh County, Georgia. Commander Colvocoresses also destroyed a salt works and a strategic bridge across the South Newport River on the main road to Savannah.
1864 – Confederate General John Chambliss is killed during a cavalry charge at Deep Bottom, Virginia—one of the sieges of Petersburg. Union General Ulysses S. Grant had bottled the army of Confederate General Robert E. Lee behind a perimeter that stretched from Petersburg to the Confederate capital at Richmond, 20 miles north. By June 1864, the armies had settled into trench warfare, with little movement of the lines. In August, Grant sought to break the stalemate by attacking the Southern defenses near Richmond. In an attempt to regain control of a section of trenches breached by the Yankees, the Confederates counterattacked, and Chambliss was killed. His body was recovered by a former West Point classmate, Union General David Gregg, who made a surprising discovery: a detailed map of the Richmond defenses. Gregg gave the plan to Union topographical engineers, who then looked for a way to copy and distribute the map through the army’s command structure. Using a new photographic technique known as Margedant’s Quick Method, which did not require a camera, the engineers traced Chambliss’s map and laid it over a sheet of photographic paper. The paper was then exposed to the sun’s rays, which darkened the paper except under the traced lines. The result was a mass-produced negative of the map, which was distributed to all Union officers in the area within 48 hours. It may not have helped the Union capture Richmond—that would take another seven months—but it may have reduced casualties by preventing foolhardy attacks on well-defended positions.
1896 – Sometime prospector George Carmack stumbles across gold while salmon fishing along the Klondike River in the Yukon. George Carmack’s discovery of gold in that region sparked the last great western gold rush, but it was pure chance that he found it. In contrast to the discoverers of many of the other major American gold fields, Carmack was not a particularly serious prospector. He had traveled to Alaska in 1881 drawn by the reports of major gold strikes in the Juneau area, but failing to make a significant strike, he headed north into the isolated Yukon Territory. There he spent his days wandering the wilderness with the friendly Tagish Indians and fishing for salmon. On this day in 1896, Carmack and two Tagish friends were salmon fishing on Rabbit Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River. As he habitually did, Carmack occasionally stopped to swirl a bit of the river sand in his prospector’s pan. He had seen a little gold, but nothing of particular note. At day’s end, the men made camp along the creek, and Carmack said he spotted a thumb-sized nugget of gold jutting out from the creek bank. The two Tagish Indians later said that Carmack had been napping that evening and one of them found the nugget while washing a dishpan. Regardless, further investigation revealed gold deposits “lying thick between the flaky slabs of rock like cheese in a sandwich.” Subsequent expeditions in the spring and summer of the following year turned up other sizeable gold deposits. In part, because the summer of 1897 was a slow one for news, the major mass-circulation newspapers played up the story of the gold strikes, sparking a nationwide sensation. In the years to come, as many as 50,000 eager gold seekers arrived in the Klondike-Yukon region. Few found any wealth, though their hardships and adventures inspired the highly romanticized Yukon tales of Jack London and the poems of Robert Service. Carmack did get rich, reportedly taking a million dollars worth of gold out of his Klondike claims and retiring to Vancouver, B.C. He died in 1922 at the age of 61, a wealthy and honored benefactor of the city.
1914 – Austrian-born Adolf Hitler volunteers to fight with the German Army. He will serve throughout the conflict on the Western Front as a messenger, suffer wounds, and receive various medals for valor.
1918 – US troops overthrew Archangel (Russia).
1924 – Conference about German recovery payments opened in London.
1934 – US ended its occupation of Haiti (begun in 1915).
1937 – The American Adviser on Political Relations asked the Secretary of State for reinforcements for the 4th Marine Regiment in Shanghai, China; two officers and 102 enlisted from Cavite, Philippines, responded.
1940 – Roosevelt announces that there have been conversations with the UK on the acquisition of bases for western hemisphere defense. He does not disclose as yet that Britain wants some old US destroyers in return.
1942 – The US Navy L-8 patrol blimp crash-landed at 419 Bellevue St., Daly City, Ca., after drifting in from the ocean. The ship’s crew, Lt. Ernest Dewitt Cody (27) and Ensign Charles E. Adams (38), were missing and no trace of them was ever found.
1943 – British forces attempt a small amphibious operation on the east coast but fail to cut off any of the retreating Axis forces. In the evening US patrols reach Messina.
1943 – Japanese airfields around Wewak are attacked by planes of the US 5th Air Force, based in Australia.
1944 – US 20th Corps (part of Us 3rd Army) captures Chartres.
1944 – The French 2nd Corps (de Lattre), part of US 7th Army, comes ashore and moves forward.
1945 – The Emperor issues an Imperial Rescript (decree) at 1600 hours (local time) ordering all Japanese forces to cease fire. The Cabinet resigns. General Prince Higashikumi becomes the prime minister of Japan and forms a new government. He orders the Imperial Army to obey the Emperor’s call and lay down their arms.
1945 – Honolulu Coast Guard District transferred to Navy.
1945 – Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, (captured by the Japanese on the island of Corregidor, in the Philippines), is freed by Russian forces from a POW camp in Manchuria, China. When President Franklin Roosevelt transferred Gen. Douglas MacArthur from his command in the Philippines to Australia in March 1942, Maj. Gen. Wainwright, until then under MacArthur’s command, was promoted to temporary lieutenant general and given command of all Philippine forces. His first major strategic decision was to move his troops to the fortified garrison at Corregidor. When Bataan was taken by the Japanese, and the infamous Bataan “Death March” of captured Allies was underway, Corredigor became the next battle ground. Wainwright and his 13,000 troops held out for a month despite heavy artillery fire. Finally, Wainwright and his troops, already exhausted, surrendered on May 6. The irony of Wainwright’s promotion was that as commander of all Allied forces in the Philippines, his surrender meant the surrender of troops still holding out against the Japanese in other parts of the Philippines. Wainwright was taken prisoner, spending the next three and a half years as a POW in Luzon, Philippines, Formosa (now Taiwan), and Manchuria, China. Upon Japan’s surrender, Russian forces in Manchuria liberated the POW camp in which Wainwright was being held. The years of captivity took its toll on the general. The man who had been nicknamed “Skinny” was now emaciated. His hair had turned white, and his skin was cracked and fragile. He was also depressed, believing he would be blamed for the loss of the Philippines to the Japanese. When Wainwright arrived in Yokohama, Japan, to attend the formal surrender ceremony, Gen. MacArthur, his former commander, was stunned at his appearance-literally unable to eat and sleep for a day. Wainwright was given a hero’s welcome upon returning to America, promoted to full general, and awarded the Medal of Honor.
1945 – Following the surrender of the Japanese, Ho Chi minh and his ‘People’s Congress’ create a National liberation Committee of Vietnam to form a provisional government. Bao Dai abdicates on 23 August and the Committee establishes the provisional government on the 29th, including Bao Dai as its ‘supreme advisor.’
1950 – The first 313 KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army) recruits left Pusan by ship to join the badly under strength U.S. 7th Infantry Division in Japan. Once started, the flow of Koreans reached nearly 2,000 per day until a total of 8,625 Korean officers and men joined the division.
1954 – Operation Passage to Freedom begins. The operation transports refugees from Haiphong to Saigon, Vietnam. To carry out the operation, the Pacific Fleet concentrates 74 tank landing ships (LST), transports, attack cargo ships, dock landing ships (LSD), and other vessels in the South China Sea under Rear Adm. Lorenzo S. Sabin, Commander Amphibious Force, Western Pacific and Commander Amphibious Group 1. The operation lasted until May 1955.
1959 – William F. Halsey (Bull Halsey), US vice-admiral (WW II Pacific), died.
1960 – Air Force COL Joseph Kittinger parachutes from a balloon over New Mexico at 102,800 feet (31,300 m), setting three records that held until 2012: High-altitude jump, free fall, and highest speed by a human without an aircraft.
1964 – General Nguyen Khanh, elected president by the Military Council, ousts Duong Van Minh as South Vietnamese chief of state and installs a new constitution, which the U.S. Embassy had helped to draft. Khanh said that he was not becoming a military dictator, but it was clear that he was now the chief power in the Saigon government. Within the week, student demonstrations against Khanh and the military government quickly turned into riots. Meanwhile, Henry Cabot Lodge, former ambassador to South Vietnam, went to Western Europe as a personal emissary of President Johnson to explain U.S. policy in Vietnam and to obtain more support from allies. Lodge returned with pledges from West Germany, Holland, Belgium, Great Britain, and Spain to provide nonmilitary technical aid to South Vietnam, but none agreed to provide military support.
1965 – The Watts riots ended in south-central LA after six days with the help of 20,000 National Guardsmen; the riots left 34 dead, 857 injured, over 2,200 arrested, and property valued at $200 million destroyed. The riots started when police on August 11th brutally beat a black motorist suspected of drunken driving in Watts area of LA.
1966 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins investigations of Americans who have aided the Viet Cong. The committee intends to introduce legislation making these activities illegal. Anti-war demonstrators disrupt the meeting and 50 people are arrested.
1967 – President Johnson’s broad interpretation of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is attacked in the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee by the Chairman, Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas, who feels that Johnson has no mandate to conduct the war on the present scale.
1972 – U.S. fighter-bombers fly 370 air strikes against North Vietnam, the highest daily total of the year; additionally, there are eight B-52 strikes in the North. Meanwhile, U.S. warplanes flew 321 missions (including 27 B-52 strikes) in South Vietnam, mostly in Quang Tri province. Despite this heavy air activity, hopes for an agreement to end the war rise as Henry Kissinger leaves Paris to confer with President Thieu and his advisers.
1990 – President Bush met with Jordan’s King Hussein in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he urged the monarch to close Iraq’s access to the sea through the port of Aqaba.
1990 – In Iraq, President Saddam Hussein issued a statement in which he repeatedly called Bush a “liar” and said the outbreak of war could result in “thousands of Americans wrapped in sad coffins.”
1999 – For the first time, weapons were fired from a Coast Guard HITRON helicopter “to execute the interdiction of a maritime drug smuggler.”
2001 – Zacarias Moussaoui (33), a French citizen of Moroccan descent, was arrested in Minneapolis on immigration charges. He was taking lessons on flying Boeing jets with no interest in taking off or landing. He was later suspected as a 5th member of one of the Sep 11 WTC attack teams. In Nov the FBI reported that Moussaoui wanted to learn how to take off and land but not to fly. Mueller also said Ramzi Omar of Yemen, aka Ramsi Binalshibh, may have been the 20th hijacker. The local FBI contacted the CIA for action on Moussaoui when FBI managers failed to take action. Agent Coleen Rowley later charged that senior officials fumbled an opportunity to possibly prevent the Sep 11 terrorist attacks.
2002 – Sabri al-Banna, aka Abu Nidal (65), Palestinian guerrilla commander and head of the Fatah-Revolutionary Council, died from gunshot wounds in his Baghdad home. Iraqi officials said he killed himself.
2004 – Pres. Bush announced plans to pull 70-100 thousand US troops from Europe and Asia and redeploy them to meet the demands of the global war on terrorism.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
* HARDENBERGH, HENRY M.
Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 39th Illinois Infantry. Place and date: At Deep Run, Va., 16 August 1864. Entered service at: Bremen, Ill. Birth: Noble County, Ind. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation. Capture of flag. He was wounded in the shoulder during this action. He was killed in action at Petersburg on 28 August 1864.
Rank and organization: Private, Company A, 6th New York Cavalry. Place and date: At Front Royal, Va., 16 August 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 26 August 1864. Citation: Capture of flag.
SHELLENBERGER, JOHN S.
Rank and organization: Corporal, Company B, 85th Pennsylvania Infantry. Place and date: At Deep Run, Va., 16 August 1864. Entered service at: Perryopolis, Pa. Birth: ——. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation: Capture of flag.
BURNETT, GEORGE R.
Rank and organization. Second Lieutenant, 9th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Cuchillo Negro Mountains, N. Mex., 16 August 1881. Entered servlce at: Spring Mills, Pa. Birth. Lower Providence Township Pa. Date of issue: 23 July 1897. Citation. Saved the life of a dismounted soldier, who was in imminent danger of being cut off, by alone galloping quickly to his assistance under heavy fire and escorting him to a place of safety, his horse being twice shot in this action.
Rank and organization: Private, Company I, 9th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Cuchillo Negro Mountains, N. Mex., 16 August 1881. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Reistertown, Md. Date of issue: 1 October 1890. Citation: Bravery in action with hostile Apaches.
Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company I, 9th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At foothills of the Cuchillo Negro Mountains, N. Mex., 16 August 1881. Entered service at. ——. Birth: Carrollton, La. Date of issue: 12 November 1896. Citation: Rallied a detachment, skillfully conducted a running flght of 3 or 4 hours, and by his coolness, bravery, and unflinching devotion to duty in standing by his commanding officer in an exposed position under a heavy fire from a large party of Indians saved the lives of at least 3 of his comrades.