The Ides of March. In the ancient Roman calendar the 15th day of March, May, July and Oct. or the 13th day of the other months.
1493 – Christopher Columbus returned to Spain, concluding his first voyage to the Western Hemisphere.
1521 – Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippine Islands, where he was killed by natives the following month.
1697 – A band of Abnaki Indians made a raid on Haverhill, Massachusetts. Twenty-seven women and children were killed in the raid. Less than a week from childbed, Hannah Duston was captured along with her infant daughter and a nurse, Mary Neff. Hannah’s husband managed to escape with their seven other children. The baby was brutally killed, and Hannah and Mary were taken northward by their captors. After a march of 100 miles, the party paused at an island (afterward known as Penacook, or Dustin, Island) in the confluence of the Merrimack and Contoocook rivers above the site of present-day Concord, New Hampshire. There the two women were held and told that after a short journey to a further village they would be stripped and scourged. On the island they met Samuel Lennardson (or Leonardson), an English boy who had been captured more than a year earlier. During the night of March 30, Hannah and the boy secured hatchets and attacked their captors; 10 were killed, 9 of them by Hannah. The three captives then stole a canoe and escaped, but Hannah turned back and scalped the 10 corpses so as to have proof of the exploit. They reached Haverhill safely and on April 21 presented their story to the General Court in Boston, which awarded the sum of 25 pounds to Hannah Duston and half that to each of her companions.
1744 – After signing the Second Family Compact with Spain, France joins the Spanish war against England. Known in the American colonies as King George’s War, and in Europe as the War of the Austrian Succession, this conflict will last until 1748. Hostilities between the French and the English in North America will continue to escalate.
1767 – Andrew Jackson is born in the Garden of the Waxhaws, South Carolina. The son of Irish immigrants, Jackson spent much of his early life in the rough-and-tumble frontier regions of South Carolina and Tennessee. His father died from injuries sustained while lifting a heavy log, and his mother was left with few resources to support the family. Jackson received only a minimal formal education, but he learned a great deal about the practical realities of frontier life by mixing with the rowdy frontiersmen around him. As a young man, Jackson settled in the still relatively untamed Tennessee area, where he worked as a self-taught lawyer. After playing an important role in winning statehood for Tennessee, Jackson became the state’s first federal congressman. He achieved national recognition during the War of 1812 for his victories over both Indian and British warriors, paving the way for his election to the presidency in 1828. Jackson represented a sharp break from the presidents who preceded him, all of whom had been well-educated men born to privilege. Americans eager to create a more democratic nation embraced the rough-hewn Jackson as their leader, celebrating him as a representation of the egalitarian spirit of the frontier. Jackson played to these sentiments, although he was no frontiersman in comparison to trailblazers and explorers like Daniel Boone or John Sevier. Still, Jackson was a man who had risen from backwoods poverty to become a successful lawyer, farmer, officer, and politician-a path to success that many average Americans hoped they might follow. More than any other president, Jackson was associated with westward expansion. A notorious Indian fighter as a young man, Jackson believed that Indians were obstacles to American progress. Once elected president, Jackson supported and vigorously executed the goals of the Removal Act of 1830, which cleared Indians from large areas of the frontier and opened the land to Anglo settlement. Jackson’s election to the presidency also signaled a sharp shift in the American view of frontier inhabitants. Previously seen as slovenly, lazy, and ill-educated troublemakers who interfered with elite plans for an orderly settlement of the West, frontiersmen started to be regarded as the archetypal American hero. During Jackson’s presidency, Americans embraced a powerful new unifying myth that the nation’s frontier experience would foster democracy, equality, and strength. Throughout his life, and even well after his death in 1845, Jackson symbolized and embodied this new American fascination with the transformative power of the western frontier.
1781 – In the Battle of Guildford Courthouse, North Carolina, British General Cornwallis achieves a Phyrric victory over the American forces of General Greene and General Morgan. Cornwallis suffers such severe losses that he abandons the campaign to establish British control over the Carolinas. It is the largest, most hotly-contested action of the Revolutionary War’s climactic Southern Campaign. Major General Nathanael Greene and his army of 4,400 Americans contested the British invasion of North Carolina at Guilford Courthouse. Lt. Gen. Charles, Earl Cornwallis, commanded the tough professional force of 1,900 British soldiers. Greene deployed his men into smaller groups to take advantage of the terrain. The Courthouse battle was fierce. The veteran British troops were severely crippled. Cornwallis lost a quarter of his army and almost a third of his officers. Greene lost only six percent of his men. With greatly diminished ranks and depleted supplies, Cornwallis withdrew to the coast, 200 miles away.
1783 – Washington personally addresses the regular meeting of officers at Newburgh, New York, advising moderation and patience, and promising expeditious congressional action on the salary and pension demands of the soldiers. A week later Congress allots the officers a lump sum equaling five years’ pay each.
1820 – As part of the Missouri Compromise between the North and the South, Maine is admitted into the Union as the 23rd state. Administered as a province of Massachusetts since 1647, the entrance of Maine as a free state was agreed to by Southern senators in exchange for the entrance of Missouri as a slave state. In 1604, French explorer Samuel de Champlain visited the coast of Maine and claimed it as part of the French province of Acadia. However, French attempts to settle Maine were thwarted when British forces under Sir Samuel Argall destroyed a colony on Mount Desert Island in 1613. Sir Ferdinando Gorges, a leading figure in the Plymouth Company, initiated British settlement in Maine after receiving a grant and royal charter, and upon Gorges’ death in 1647 the Massachusetts Bay Colony claimed jurisdiction. Gorges’ heirs disputed this claim until 1677, when Massachusetts agreed to purchase Gorges’ original proprietary rights. As part of Massachusetts, Maine developed early fishing, lumbering, and shipbuilding industries and in 1820 was granted statehood. In the 19th century, the promise of jobs in the timber industry lured many French Canadians to Maine from the Canadian province of Quebec, which borders the state to the west. With 90 percent of Maine still covered by forests, Maine is known as the “Pine Tree State” and is the most sparsely populated state east of the Mississippi River.
1831 – Confederate General Edward Aylesworth Perry is born in Richmond, Massachusetts. The transplanted Yankee led a Florida brigade during the war, and served as governor of the state after the war. Perry received his education at Lee Academy in Massachusetts and then at Yale University. In 1852, he moved to Georgia to teach school and study law. After a sojourn in Alabama, he settled in Pensacola, Florida, to practice. When the war erupted, Perry took up arms for his adopted state, becoming a captain in the Pensacola Rifle Rangers. His company was later absorbed into the 2nd Florida Infantry. He participated in the occupation of the Pensacola navy yard before joining the Confederate army in Virginia. The 2nd Florida fought in the Peninsular campaign, defending Yorktown in the face of General George B. McClellan’s invading Union army. Perry become the regiment’s commander when Colonel George Ward was killed near Williamsburg, and Perry led the unit through hard fighting during the Seven Days’ battles in June 1862. Three months later, the Floridians fought at the Battle of Antietam and suffered heavy losses. Perry was promoted to brigadier general and received command of two other Florida regiments. He fought at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, but typhoid fever caused him to miss the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, where his brigade lost more than half of its men. Perry returned to command, but he was seriously wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864. He was forced to relinquish control of his brigade, and after his recovery he spent the rest of the war commanding reserve troops in Alabama. He served as governor of Florida from 1884 to 1888, and in that post he signed a bill providing pensions for Confederate veterans. His failing health forced him to Texas in 1889, where he died from a stroke at Kerrville on October 15. He is buried in St. John’s Cemetery in Pensacola.
1862 – General John Hunt Morgan began four days of raids near the city of Gallatin, Tenn. “The Yankees will never take me a prisoner again,” vowed Confederate General John Hunt Morgan. 1864 – After ordering ironclads U.S.S. Benton and Essex to remain at Fort De Russy in support of the Army detachment engaged in destroying the works, Rear Admiral Porter convoyed the main body of troops up the Red River toward Alexandria, Louisiana. Porter dispatched U.S.S. East port, Lex-ington, and Ouachita ahead to try to overtake the Confederate vessels seeking to escape above the Alexandria rapids. The Confederate ships were too far ahead, however, and the Union gunboats arrived at the rapids half an hour behind them. Confederate steamer Countess grounded in her hasty attempt to get upstream and was destroyed by her crew to prevent capture.
1864 – The Red River Campaign: U.S. Navy fleet arrives at Alexandria, Louisiana.
1889 – The Samoan Islands have been in the throes of a civil war since 1878 when the Hayes Administration negotiated a treaty for a US coaling station on Pago Pago. Germany has backed the insurgent forces fighting Samoan King Malietoa, whose rule is backed by the US. The British are watching the conflict but have not taken sides and it appears that Germany and the US may actively go to war directly. The Germans have placed Americans and British on Samoa under military law. Warships from all three great powers gather in the harbor of Apia to influence the outcome of negotiations between Germany and the US which are deteriorating. On the eve of what seems an unavoidable conflict, a hurricane hits smashing all but one of the warships anchored there to bits. Only the British corvette HMS Calliope escapes to the open sea. The three powers meet again on 29 April and restore King Malietoa, but the retain the power to appoint the presiding judge of the one-man Supreme Court.
1916 – General Pershing and his 15,000 troops chased Pancho Villa into Mexico. US troops pursued the guerillas, killing 50 on US soil and 70 more in Mexico. General Pershing failed to capture the Villa dead or alive. Villa was assassinated at Parral in 1923.
1916 – The Army Reorganization bill passes the House. The Senate has unanimously voted to bring the Army to full authorized strength. On June 3, the National Defense Act will pass, authorizing a standing Army of 175,000 and incorporates an idea promoted by Douglas MacArthur, the use ovreseas of the National Guard, intact, which will reach a strength of 450,000. By the end of June the Congress will authorize an appropriation of $128,000,000, the largest military budget to date.
1917 – Czar Nicholas II abdicates. Proposals to replace him with his son Aleksey are rejected by the czar who favors his own brother, Grand Duke Mikhail.
1919 – The American Legion is founded in Paris by 1000 veterans of the American Expeditionary Force who met to discuss transition to civilian life and what veterans could do to help each other adjust and to work together to further the rights of veterans.
1923 – Charles F. Cramer, assistant to Charles R. Forbes, head of the Veterans’ Bureau, commits suicide. He is one of President Hardings inner circle, the so-called Ohio Gang. Another suicide, that of Jesse Smith, close friend of Attorney General Daughtery and an unethical Washington power-broker, occurred after Harding himself had told Smith to get out of Washington. “Colonel” Forbes will soon resign as director of the Veterans’ Bureau.
1930 – The USS Nautilus, the 1st streamlined submarine of US Navy, was launched.
1941 – In an important speech Roosevelt promises that the United States will supply Britain and the Allies “aid until victory” and that there will be an “end to compromise with tyranny.”
1942 – The 172-foot tender CGC Acacia was en route from Curacao, Netherlands West Indies to Antigua, British West Indies, when she was sunk by shellfire from the German submarine U-161. The entire crew of Acacia was rescued. She was the only Coast Guard buoy tender sunk by enemy action during the war.
1943 – The US 7th Fleet (Admiral Carpender) is formed to control naval operations around New Guinea.
1944 – Forces of the US 5th Army launches new attacks on Cassino. A preliminary bombardment consisting of 14,000 tons of bombs and 190,000 shells is directed on the town. The New Zealand 2nd Division then attacks with the 4th Indian Division to follow up against the monastery. Armored support is hampered by the rubble created during the bombardment. The German 1st Paratroop Division offers strong resistance. Allied forces make some gains at Castle Hill and Hangman’s Hill.
1944 – On Bougainville, there are renewed attacks by Japanese forces against the American beachhead. US forces hold the effort.
1944 – On Manus Island, elements of the US 7th and 8th Cavalry Divisions land on the north coast, near Lugos Mission. The Americans advance toward Lorengau along two routes.
1945 – The US 7th Army launches attacks in the area around Saarbrucken and Bitche in a joint effort with US 3rd Army to eliminate German forces from the area between the Saar, Moselle and Rhine rivers.
1945 – On Iwo Jima, US 5th Amphibious Corps continues to engage the Japanese forces which are now confined a small area in the northwest of the island.
1945 – Admiral McCrea commands a squadron of American cruisers and destroyers in a bombardment of Matsuwa.
1946 – For the first time, U.S. Coast Guard aircraft supplemented the work of the Coast Guard patrol vessels of the International Ice Patrol, scouting for ice and determining the limits of the ice fields from the air.
1947 – Ensign John W. Lee becomes first African American officer commissioned in regular Navy. He was assigned to USS Kearsage.
1951 – Eighth Army recaptured Seoul.
1951 – U.S. Navy ships fired on Wonsan for a full seven minutes, killing an estimated 8,000 Chinese troops.
1955 – The U.S. Air Force unveiled a self-guided missile.
1964 – Cambodia was receiving military aid from Communist China.
1965 – Gen. Harold K. Johnson, Army Chief of Staff, reports on his recent visit to Vietnam to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. He admitted that the recent air raids ordered by President Johnson had not affected the course of the war and said he would like to assign an American division to hold coastal enclaves and defend the Central Highlands. General Johnson also advocated creating a four-division force of Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and U.S. troops to patrol the Demilitarized Zone along the border separating North and South Vietnam and Laos. Nothing ever came of General Johnson’s recommendation on the SEATO troops, but President Johnson ordered the 173rd Airborne Brigade to Vietnam in May 1965 and followed it with the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in September of the same year. These forces, along with the first contingent of U.S. Marines–which had arrived in March–were only the first of a massive American build up. By 1969, there were more than 540,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam.
1966 – Establishment of River Squadron Five in Vietnam.
1973 – President Nixon hints that the United States might intervene again in Vietnam to prevent communist violations of the truce. A cease-fire under the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords had gone into effect on January 27, 1973, but was quickly and repeatedly violated by both sides as they jockeyed for control of territory in South Vietnam. Very quickly, both sides resumed heavy fighting in what came to be called the “cease-fire war.” Nixon had been instrumental in convincing the reluctant South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to sign the peace treaty, promising him repeatedly that, “We will respond with full force should the settlements be violated by North Vietnam.” As the fighting continued throughout 1973 and into 1974, Thieu appealed to Nixon to make good on his promises. For his part, Nixon was increasingly embroiled in the developing Watergate scandal, and resigned from office in August 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford, was unable to persuade a hostile Congress to provide the promised support to South Vietnam. The United States did nothing when the North Vietnamese launched their final offensive in the spring of 1975. South Vietnam was defeated in less than 55 days, surrendering unconditionally to the North Vietnamese on April 30.
1980 – The Penobscot Indians settle a claim for land taken in a violation of the Indian Nonintercourse Act of 1790.
1980 – Masked terrorists believed to be Puerto Rican nationalists raid Carter campaign headquarters in Chicago and Bush campaign headquarters in New York City.
1980 – U.S. Navy reports critical shortage of qualified aircraft carrier pilots.
1983 – The Coast Guard retired its last HC-131A Samaritan.
1985 – The first Internet domain name is registered (symbolics.com).
1987 – Peggy Say, the sister of Terry Anderson, the Associated Press correspondent held hostage in Lebanon, said President Reagan was being “unjustly castigated” for his arms-for-hostages deal.
1993 – Searchers found the body of the sixth and last missing victim of the World Trade Center bombing in New York.
1997 – Greek frogmen and U.S. Marines evacuated hundreds of foreigners trapped in Albania after that country’s descent into anarchy.
1997 – Operation Gulf Shield begins. This operation is a counterpart to the counter narcotics operation Frontier Shield.
2000 – In Iraq US and British warplanes hit southern Iraqi targets.
2000 – In Kosovo US troops raided 5 locations in southeastern Kosovo and seized large quantities of arms and ammunition from militant Albanians.
2002 – Adm. Zinni, US envoy, met with Yasser Arafat in Ramallah and demanded that he reign in militants and enforced a cease fire.
2003 – In Pakistan authorities near Lahore arrested Yassir al-Jaziri, a suspected key al-Qaeda figure.
2003 – American defense officials say a long-range B1-B bomber aircraft has been used for the first time against Iraqi targets in the no-fly zone in southern Iraq.
2004 – The U.S. military said it released 23 Afghan and three Pakistani citizens from the U.S. Navy prison for terrorist suspects in Cuba, leaving about 610 still in detention.
2004 – Pakistani police diffused a large bomb inside a van parked in front of the US Consulate in Karachi.
2004 – In Saudi Arabia authorities killed Khaled Ali Haj, a Yemeni, and Ibrahim bin Abdul-Aziz bin Mohammed al-Mezeini, a Saudi. Haj, who also uses the name Abu Hazim al-Sha’ir, was the “most dangerous” al-Qaida operative in the region. Haj was third on the government’s list of Saudi Arabia’s 26 most wanted militants.
2005 – The US charged 18 people with a scheme to smuggle shoulder-fired missiles and other military gear from former Soviet states. One person was still at large.
2009 – Space Shuttle Discovery successfully launches from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. STS-119 (ISS assembly flight 15A) was a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS) which was flown by Space Shuttle Discovery. It delivered and assembled the fourth starboard Integrated Truss Segment (S6), and the fourth set of solar arrays and batteries to the station. Discovery successfully landed on 28 March 2009, at 15:13 pm EDT.
2010 – The passing of the United States generation that fought in World War I is marked by the funeral of Frank Buckles, who died on 27 February 2011, aged 110, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Frank Woodruff Buckles (born Wood Buckles, February 1, 1901 – February 27, 2011) was a United States Army soldier and the last surviving American veteran of World War I. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 and served with a detachment from Fort Riley, driving ambulances and motorcycles near the front lines in Europe. During World War II, he was captured by Japanese forces while working in the shipping business, and spent three years in the Philippines as a civilian prisoner. After the war, Buckles married in San Francisco and moved to Gap View Farm near Charles Town, West Virginia. A widower at age 98, he worked on his farm until the age of 105. In his last years, he was Honorary Chairman of the World War I Memorial Foundation. As chairman, he advocated the establishment of a World War I memorial similar to other war memorials in Washington, D.C.. Toward this end, Buckles campaigned for the District of Columbia War Memorial to be renamed the National World War I Memorial. He testified before Congress in support of this cause, and met with President George W. Bush at the White House. Buckles was awarded the World War I Victory Medal at the conclusion of that conflict, and the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal retroactively following the medal’s creation in 1941, as well as the French Legion of Honor in 1999.
2015 – The United States embassy and consulates in Saudi Arabia close for Sunday and Monday due to heightened security concerns.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
SMITH, HENRY I.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company B, 7th lowa Infantry. Place and date: At Black River, N.C., 15 March 1865. Entered service at: Shell Rock Fall, Cerro Gordo County, lowa. Born: 4 May 1840, England. Date of issue: 7 September 1894. Citation: Voluntarily and under fire rescued a comrade from death by drowning.
HERRERA, SILVESTRE S.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company E, 142d Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Mertzwiller, France, 15 March 1945. Entered service at: Phoenix, Ariz. Birth: El Paso, Tex. G.O. No.: 75, 5 September 1945. Citation: He advanced with a platoon along a wooded road until stopped by heavy enemy machinegun fire. As the rest of the unit took cover, he made a 1-man frontal assault on a strongpoint and captured 8 enemy soldiers. When the platoon resumed its advance and was subjected to fire from a second emplacement beyond an extensive minefield, Pvt. Herrera again moved forward, disregarding the danger of exploding mines, to attack the position. He stepped on a mine and had both feet severed but, despite intense pain and unchecked loss of blood, he pinned down the enemy with accurate rifle fire while a friendly squad captured the enemy gun by skirting the minefield and rushing in from the flank. The magnificent courage, extraordinary heroism, and willing self-sacrifice displayed by Pvt. Herrera resulted in the capture of 2 enemy strongpoints and the taking of 8 prisoners.
PIERCE, FRANCIS JUNIOR
Rank and organization: Pharmacist’s Mate First Class, U.S. Navy serving with 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division. Place and date: Iwo Jima, 15 and 16 March 1945. Entered service at lowa Born: 7 December 1924, Earlville, lowa. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, during the Iwo Jima campaign, 15 and 16 March 1945. Almost continuously under fire while carrying out the most dangerous volunteer assignments, Pierce gained valuable knowledge of the terrain and disposition of troops. Caught in heavy enemy rifle and machinegun fire which wounded a corpsman and 2 of the 8 stretcher bearers who were carrying 2 wounded marines to a forward aid station on 15 March, Pierce quickly took charge of the party, carried the newly wounded men to a sheltered position, and rendered first aid. After directing the evacuation of 3 of the casualties, he stood in the open to draw the enemy’s fire and, with his weapon blasting, enabled the litter bearers to reach cover. Turning his attention to the other 2 casualties he was attempting to stop the profuse bleeding of 1 man when a Japanese fired from a cave less than 20 yards away and wounded his patient again. Risking his own life to save his patient, Pierce deliberately exposed himself to draw the attacker from the cave and destroyed him with the last of his ammunition Then lifting the wounded man to his back, he advanced unarmed through deadly rifle fire across 200 feet of open terrain. Despite exhaustion and in the face of warnings against such a suicidal mission, he again traversed the same fire-swept path to rescue the remaining marine. On the following morning, he led a combat patrol to the sniper nest and, while aiding a stricken marine, was seriously wounded. Refusing aid for himself, he directed treatment for the casualty, at the same time maintaining protective fire for his comrades. Completely fearless, completely devoted to the care of his patients, Pierce inspired the entire battalion. His valor in the face of extreme peril sustains and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
*SARGENT, RUPPERT L.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company B, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. Place and date: Hau Nghia Province, Republic of Vietnam, 15 March 1967. Entered service at: Richmond, Va. Born: 6 January 1938, Hampton, Va. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While leading a platoon of Company B, 1st Lt. Sargent was investigating a reported Viet Cong meeting house and weapons cache. A tunnel entrance which 1st Lt. Sargent observed was booby trapped. He tried to destroy the booby trap and blow the cover from the tunnel using hand grenades, but this attempt was not successful. He and his demolition man moved in to destroy the booby trap and cover which flushed a Viet Cong soldier from the tunnel, who was immediately killed by the nearby platoon sergeant. 1st Lt. Sargent, the platoon sergeant, and a forward observer moved toward the tunnel entrance. As they approached, another Viet Cong emerged and threw 2 hand grenades that landed in the midst of the group. 1st Lt. Sargent fired 3 shots at the enemy then turned and unhesitatingly threw himself over the 2 grenades. He was mortally wounded, and his 2 companions were lightly wounded when the grenades exploded. By his courageous and selfless act of exceptional heroism, he saved the lives of the platoon sergeant and forward observer and prevented the injury or death of several other nearby comrades. 1st Lt. Sargent’s actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military services and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.