August 31

31 August

1756 – The British at Fort William Henry, New England, surrendered to Louis Montcalm of France.
1777Samuel Mason, a captain in command of Fort Henry on the Ohio frontier, survives a devastating Indian attack only to become one of the young nation’s first western desperados. The son of a distinguished Virginia family, Samuel Mason became a militia officer and was assigned to the western frontier post of Fort Henry in present-day West Virginia. In the summer of 1777, with the colonies fighting a war for independence, Mason feared attacks by the Indian allies of the British. On this day in 1777, a band of Native Americans from several eastern tribes did attack the fort. The Indians initially fired only on several men who were outside the fort rounding up horses. Hearing the shots, Mason gathered 14 men and rode to their rescue. This was exactly what the warriors hoped he would do. They lay in wait and ambushed the party, killing all but Mason. Badly wounded, Mason escaped death by hiding behind a log. A second party that attempted to come to his rescue suffered the same fate as the first. All told, Mason lost 15 men compared to only one fatality among the attackers. Mason recovered from his wounds and continued to command Fort Henry for several years. Following the end of the war, though, he seems to have fallen on hard times. Repeatedly accused of being a thief, he moved farther west into the lawless frontier of the young American nation. By 1797, he had become a pirate on the Mississippi River, preying on boatmen who moved valuable goods up and down the river. He also reportedly took to robbing travelers along the Natchez Trace (or trail) in Tennessee, often with the assistance of his four sons and several other vicious men. By the early 1800s, Mason had become one of the most notorious desperados on the American frontier, a precursor to Jesse James, Cole Younger, and later outlaws of the Wild West. In January 1803, Spanish authorities arrested Mason and his four sons and decided to turn them over to the Americans. En route to Natchez, Tennessee, Mason and his sons killed the commander of the boat and escaped. Determined to apprehend Mason, the Americans upped the reward for his capture, dead or alive. The reward money soon proved too tempting for two members of Mason’s gang. In July 1803 they killed Mason, cut off his head, and brought it into the Mississippi territorial offices to prove that they had earned the reward. The men were soon identified as members of Mason’s gang, however, and they were arrested and hanged.
1778 – British killed 17 Stockbridge Indians in Bronx during Revolution.
1803 – Captain Meriwether Lewis left Pittsburgh to meet up with Captain William Clark and begin their trek to the Pacific Ocean.
1819The cutters Alabama and Louisiana captured the privateer Bravo in the Gulf of Mexico. The master, Jean Le Farges — a lieutenant of Jean Lafitte — was later hanged from the Louisiana’s yardarm on the Mississippi River. The cutters then sailed for Patterson’s Town on Breton Island to destroy the notorious pirates’ den there.
1822 – Fitz John Porter (d.1901), Major General (Union volunteers), was born.
1835 – Angry mob in Charleston, South Carolina, seized U-S mail containing abolitionist literature and burned it in public.
1842 – US Naval Observatory was authorized by an act of Congress.
1842Congress replaces the Board of Navy Commissioners, a group of senior officer who oversaw naval technical affairs, with the five technical Bureaus, ancestors of the Systems Commands. One of the 1842 Bureau, the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, continues to serve under its original name.
1852The Lighthouse Board was created and charged with administering the Lighthouse Service, as the Revenue Cutter Service was again decentralized. The board was comprised of Army and Navy officers, and civilian scientists. Channel marking and light operation acquired scientific precision and engineering. Classical lenses and lateral buoy systems were introduced. The Life-Saving Service separated from the Revenue Cutter Service in 1852 also.
1864At the Democratic convention in Chicago, General George B. McClellan was nominated for president. McClellan ran on a Copperhead platform climing the war had been a failure and was hopelessly lost. Only a peace with honor allowing the Southern states their independence could save the North from ruin. This was a scan 8 months before the end of the war.
1864General William T. Sherman launches the attack that finally secures Atlanta, Georgia, for the Union, and seals the fate of Confederate General John Bell Hood’s army, which is forced to evacuate the area. The Battle of Jonesboro was the culmination of a four-month campaign by Sherman to capture Atlanta. He had spent the summer driving his army down the 100-mile corridor from Chattanooga, Tennessee, against a Confederate force led by General Joseph Johnston. General Hood, who replaced Johnston in July on the outskirts of Atlanta, proceeded to attack Sherman in an attempt to drive him northward. However, these attacks failed, and by August 1 the armies had settled into a siege. In late August, Sherman swung his army south of Atlanta to cut the main rail line supplying the Rebel army. Confederate General William Hardee’s corps moved to block Sherman at Jonesboro, and attacked the Union troops on August 31, but the Rebels were thrown back with staggering losses. The entrenched Yankees lost just 178 men, while the Confederates lost nearly 2,000. On September 1, Sherman attacked Hardee. Though the Confederates held, Sherman successfully cut the rail line and effectively trapped the Rebels. Hardee had to abandon his position, and Hood had no choice but to withdraw from Atlanta. The fall of Atlanta was instrumental in securing the reelection of Abraham Lincoln in the fall.
1865 – The US Federal government estimated the American Civil War had cost about eight-billion dollars. Human costs have been estimated at more than one-million killed or wounded.
1899 – Paul E. Garber, US founder and 1st curator of National Air & Space Museum, was born.
1920The first radio news program is broadcast by 8MK (WWJ today) in Detroit, Michigan. It was primary election day, and it was announced that the returns — local, state and congressional — would be sent to the public that night by means of the radio. The next day the following announcement was made: “The sending of the election returns by The Detroit News’ radiophone Tuesday night was fraught with romance and must go down in the history of man’s conquest of the elements as a gigantic step in his progress. In the four hours that the apparatus, set up in an out-of-the-way corner of The News Building, was hissing and whirring its message into space, few realized that a dream and a prediction had come true. The news of the world was being given forth through this invisible trumpet to the waiting crowds in the unseen market place.”
1935 – President Roosevelt signed the first Neutrality Act, an act prohibiting the export of U.S. arms to belligerents.
1939At noon, despite threats of British and French intervention, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler signs an order to attack Poland, and German forces move to the frontier. That evening, Nazi S.S. troops wearing Polish uniforms staged a phony invasion of Germany, damaging several minor installations on the German side of the border. They also left behind a handful of dead German prisoners in Polish uniforms to serve as further evidence of the alleged Polish attack, which Nazi propagandists publicized as an unforgivable act of aggression. At dawn the next morning, 58 German army divisions invaded Poland all across the 1,750-mile frontier. Hitler expected appeasement from Britain and France–the same nations that had given Czechoslovakia away to German conquest in 1938 with their signing of the Munich Pact. However, neither country would allow Hitler’s new violation of Europe’s borders, and Germany was presented with an ultimatum: Withdraw by September 3 or face war with the Western democracies. At 11:15 a.m. on September 3, a few minutes after the expiration of the British ultimatum, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain appeared on national radio to announce solemnly that Britain was at war with Germany. Australia, New Zealand, and India immediately followed suit. Later that afternoon, the French ultimatum expired, and at 5:00 p.m. France declared war on Germany. The European phase of World War II began.
1940 – US National Guard assembled. They will be mobilized for 1 year, extended to 2, to train and assist in war games to test new tactics.
1940 – 56 U-boats were sunk this month (268,000 ton).
1941 – US Agricultural Secretary Claude Wickard announces that meat rationing will probably be necessary.
1942 – The Battle of Guadalcanal. Japanese General Kawaguchi lands 1200 troops on the island.
1942 – 3rd Marines leave San Diego bound for American Samoa.
1943 – American carrier based aircraft strike Marcus island. The Independence, Essex and Yorktown are involved. These ships are part of the newly formed Fast Carrier Task Force.
1943 – Commissioning of USS Harmon (DE-678), first Navy ship named for an African American Sailor.
1944 – US 4th Corps (part of US 5th Army) advances after German forces conduct withdrawals from some positions along the Arno River.
1944 – Carrier task group begins 3-day attack on Iwo Jima and Bonin Islands.
1944 – A US B-24-J bomber crashed into Maoer Mountain in China after having completed its bombing mission over the port of Takao in Taiwan. All 10 men onboard were killed. The wreckage was not discovered until Oct, 1996.
1945General MacArthur establishes the supreme allied command at the main port of Tokyo, as the first foreigner to take charge of Japan in 1000 years. In discussing the preparations for the formal surrender ceremony, scheduled for September 2nd, he said: “The surrender plan has been going splendidly. There is every indication that the occupation will continue without bloodshed or friction.” The American occupation is continuing at a rate of 300 troop planes per day.
1945 – The remaining Japanese troops in the Philippines formally surrender.
1945 – The Japanese garrison on Marcus Island surrenders to the American Admiral Whiting.
1945Field Marshal Brauchitsch and Field Marshal von Manstein are arrested by Allied authorities. Meanwhile, the civilian population is in flux. Germans who fled the bombing of their cities are going home to stake their claim on whatever remains of their property. One in five persons in the western zone of Germay is a refugee. There are also Germans driven out of Poland and Silesia as well as other parts of eastern Europe.
1949 – Six of the 16 surviving Union veterans of the Civil War attended the last-ever encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, held in Indianapolis, Indiana.
1950 – Far East Air Force B-29s completed air strikes on the docks and railway yards at Songjin and the industrial factory at Chinnampo. From Aug. 28-31, aircraft dropped 326 tons of bombs on Songjin and 284 tons on Chinnampo.
1950 – The second battle of the Naktong Bulge began as the North Korean I Corps crossed the lower Naktong River in a well-planned attack against the U.S. 2nd and 25th Infantry Divisions.
1951 – The former enemies of the world war reconvened in San Francisco to finalize negotiations on the peace treaty to formally end WW II. Japan agreed to pay the Int’l. Red Cross about $15 per POW while the allies agreed not to bring charges against it.
1951 – The last United Nations Command offensive of the war occurred when the 1st Marine Division began its assault against the Punchbowl and from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3. The 2nd Infantry Division seized Bloody Ridge at a cost of 2,700 casualties.
1954Under terms of the Geneva Agreement, a flow of almost one million refugees from North to South Vietnam begins. CIA Colonel Lansdale plays a role in encouraging Catholics and providing transportation. France and the United States, especially the US Navy, provide aircraft and ships. US Marine Colonel Victor J. Croziat, first US Marine assigned to the US MAAG in Saigon, creates refugee centers. The majority of the refugees are Catholics, led by their priests. Others include various factions opposed to the Vietminh. They furnish Prime Minister Diem, himself a Catholic, with a fiercely anti-Communist constituency in the South.
1955Secretary of State John Foster Dulles supports South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem’s position regarding his refusal to hold “national and general elections” to reunify the two Vietnam states. Although these elections were called for by the Geneva Accords of July 1954, Diem and his supporters in the United States realized that if the elections were held, Ho Chi Minh and the more populous north would probably win, thereby reuniting Vietnam under the Communist banner. Accordingly, he refused to hold the elections and the separation of North and South soon became permanent.
1961 – A concrete wall replaced the barbed wire fence that separated East and West Germany, it would be called the Berlin wall.
1962 – Last flight of Navy airship made at NAS Lakehurst, NJ.
1963At a National Security Council meeting, Paul Kattenburg, just returned from Saigon, suggests that the United States is backing the wrong man in Diem, and that this might be a good time to get out of Vietnam honorably. Dean Rusk replies that the United States will stay until victorious, McNamara asserts that the United States is winning, and Lyndon Johnson suggests that the war be prosecuted vigorously. Subsequently, Kennedy wonders aloud whether any government in Saigon can successfully resist the Communists.
1965Premier Nguyen Cao Ky announces that South Vietnam would not negotiate with the Communists without guarantees that North Vietnamese troops would be withdrawn from the South. He also said that his government would institute major reforms to correct economic and social injustices.
1965 – President Johnson signs into law a bill making it illegal to destroy or mutilate a U.S. draft card, with penalties of up to five years and a $10,000 fine.
1967Senate Preparedness Investigating Committee issues a call to step up bombing against the North, declaring that McNamara had “shackled” the air war against Hanoi, and calling for “closure, neutralization, or isolation of Haiphong.” President Johnson, attempting to placate Congressional “hawks” and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expanded the approved list of targets in the north, authorizing strikes against bridges, barracks, and railyards in the Hanoi-Haipong area and additional targets in the previously restricted areas along the Chinese border.
1972U.S. weekly casualty figures of five dead and three wounded are the lowest recorded since record keeping began in January 1965. These numbers reflected the fact that there were less than 40,000 American troops left in South Vietnam by this time and very few of these were involved in actual combat. U.S. troop withdrawals had begun in the fall of 1969 following President Richard Nixon’s announcement at the Midway conference on June 8, 1972, that he would begin reducing the number of American troops in Vietnam as the war was turned over to the South Vietnamese as part of his “Vietnamization” policy. Once the troop withdrawals began, they continued on a fairly regular basis, steadily reducing the troop level from the 1969 high of 543,400.
1990 – East & West Germany signed a treaty to join legal & political
1995 – NATO planes and UN artillery blasted Serb targets in Bosnia for a 2nd day in response to the market attack in Serajevo.
1996More than 100 members of the Iraqi National Congress in Irbil were captured by Iraqi secret police and apparently executed. The Congress was set up by the US in 1992 as an alternative to Saddam Hussein. Thousands of opposition members made it to Turkey and were flown to Guam by the US and promised asylum in the US.
1998 – Iraq accuses UNSCOM of spying for the United States and Israel and demands an investigation.
2002 – In Indonesia unidentified gunmen shot dead three people, including two Americans, and wounded up to 14 others in an attack on a vehicle convoy near a giant gold mine in Papua province. Indonesian soldiers were later implicated in the attack.
2002 – Kuwait will buy 16 attack helicopters from Boeing in a deal worth $886 million. Defense Minister Sheik Jaber Mubarak Al Hamad and U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones signed the deal.
2003 – Vowing revenge and beating their chests, more than 300,000 Shiites marched behind the rose-strewn coffin of a beloved cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, who had been assassinated in a car bombing in Najaf, Iraq.
2004 – A video purporting to show the methodical, grisly killings of 12 Nepalese construction workers kidnapped in Iraq was posted on a Web site linked to a militant group operating in Iraq.
2004 – In northern Iraq Ibrahim Ismael, head of Kirkuk’s education department, was killed in a drive-by shooting as he drove to work.
2010 – Gen. Ray Odierno was replaced by Gen. Lloyd Austin as Commander of US forces in Iraq.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

Rank and organization: Captain, Company F, 4th Missouri Cavalry. Place and date: At Jonesboro, Ga., 31 August 1864. Entered service at: St. Louis, Mo. Born: 4 August 1838, Germany. Date of issue: 24 February 1899. Citation: While acting as aide and carrying orders across a most dangerous part of the battlefield, being hindered by a Confederate advance, seized a rifle, took a place in the ranks and was conspicuous in repulsing the enemy.

Rank and organization: Master Sergeant (then Sfc.) U.S. Army, Company A, 72d Tank Battalion. Place and date: Vicinity of Agok, Korea, 31 August and 1 September 1950. Entered service at: Dwight, Nebr. Born: 23 November 1919, Dwight, Nebr. G.O. No.: 38, 4 June 1951. Citation: M/Sgt. Kouma, a tank commander in Company A, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. His unit was engaged in supporting infantry elements on the Naktong River front. Near midnight on 31 August, a hostile force estimated at 500 crossed the river and launched a fierce attack against the infantry positions, inflicting heavy casualties. A withdrawal was ordered and his armored unit was given the mission of covering the movement until a secondary position could be established. The enemy assault overran 2 tanks, destroyed 1 and forced another to withdraw. Suddenly M/Sgt. Kouma discovered that his tank was the only obstacle in the path of the hostile onslaught. Holding his ground, he gave fire orders to his crew and remained in position throughout the night, fighting off repeated enemy attacks. During 1 fierce assault, the enemy surrounded his tank and he leaped from the armored turret, exposing himself to a hail of hostile fire, manned the .50 caliber machine gun mounted on the rear deck, and delivered pointblank fire into the fanatical foe. His machine gun emptied, he fired his pistol and threw grenades to keep the enemy from his tank. After more than 9 hours of constant combat and close-in fighting, he withdrew his vehicle to friendly lines. During the withdrawal through 8 miles of hostile territory, M/Sgt. Kouma continued to inflict casualties upon the enemy and exhausted his ammunition in destroying 3 hostile machine gun positions. During this action, M/Sgt. Kouma killed an estimated 250 enemy soldiers. His magnificent stand allowed the infantry sufficient time to reestablish defensive positions. Rejoining his company, although suffering intensely from his wounds, he attempted to resupply his tank and return to the battle area. While being evacuated for medical treatment, his courage was again displayed when he requested to return to the front. M/Sgt. Kouma’s superb leadership, heroism, and intense devotion to duty reflect the highest credit on himself and uphold the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army.

Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company F, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Chup’a-ri, Korea, 31 August 1951. Entered service at: Old Hickory, Tenn. Birth: Hickman County, Tenn. G.O. No.: 4, 9 January 1953. Citation: Cpl. Lyell, a member of Company F, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. When his platoon leader was killed, Cpl. Lyell assumed command and led his unit in an assault on strongly fortified enemy positions located on commanding terrain. When his platoon came under vicious, raking fire which halted the forward movement, Cpl. Lyell seized a 57mm. recoilless rifle and unhesitatingly moved ahead to a suitable firing position from which he delivered deadly accurate fire completely destroying an enemy bunker, killing its occupants. He then returned to his platoon and was resuming the assault when the unit was again subjected to intense hostile fire from 2 other bunkers. Disregarding his personal safety, armed with grenades he charged forward hurling grenades into 1 of the enemy emplacements, and although painfully wounded in this action he pressed on destroying the bunker and killing 6 of the foe. He then continued his attack against a third enemy position, throwing grenades as he ran forward, annihilating 4 enemy soldiers. He then led his platoon to the north slope of the hill where positions were occupied from which effective fire was delivered against the enemy in support of friendly troops moving up. Fearlessly exposing himself to enemy fire, he continuously moved about directing and encouraging his men until he was mortally wounded by enemy mortar fire. Cpl. Lyell’s extraordinary heroism, indomitable courage, and aggressive leadership reflect great credit on himself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

One thought on “August 31

  1. Howard says:

    1961 – The Iron Curtain separated East and West Germany. The Berlin Wall, however, separated East and West Berlin.

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